Exclusive Analysis by Bill Zalud
Today’s darling of sometime security industry gurus, integrators and vendors of a certain mindset, Cisco Systems is spending big bucks in a middling economy to grow, expand and better position themselves as an enterprise service provider against such giant “partners” as Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
And there is more to come in 2010 as Cisco CEO John Chambers recently promised, “you will see us move with a lot of acquisitions over the next year.”
The firm acquired Tandberg, a Norwegian high definition video communications company, to help expand Cisco’s TelePresence room-sized videoconferencing systems from their enterprise clients to use on desks and through PCs. Cisco then acquired Starent Networks, which makes software and gear to manage data traffic for wireless devices. In both cases, pegged at about $3 billion each, there is tech that can easily apply to security buyers looking for high definition security video, smaller initial investments in new equipment and mobility of images and other data. The acquired companies will also gain from Cisco’s larger-than-life sales advantages with IT-centric buyers.
The business trick for Cisco is to spend its estimated $35 billion cash piggybank on companies that, when integrated into the San Jose-based firm, will help it hold on to huge profit margin with traditional routers and switchers, which analysts suggest is 60-65 percent or so.
Of course, Cisco is already directly in the physical security sector. At last month’s ASIS, Cisco displayed physical security solutions in video surveillance, IP cameras, access control, emergency response, and technology that converges voice, data, and security in one modular appliance. There’s no doubt Cisco also has significant influence on the IT side and with security integrators who proudly wear their Cisco Certified Network Associates and Cisco Wireless Field Engineer credentials.
The activities in San Jose as well as advances at Google and Amazon.com, to name two others, also point to emerging cloud computing and hosted security video services as ways for end-users big and small to handle any or all of their security video transmission, analytics, alarms, storage and retrieval, whether in central command centers or through mobile devices or both.
A Google executive told Zalud’s Blog that it handles about 20 petabytes of video a day. A petabyte, by the way, is 1,000 terabytes or 1,000,000 gigabytes. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a Web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make Web-scale computing easier for developers and integrators, who can obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction, while running on Amazon’s computing environment.
Consumer, business and security attraction for video accessed from and delivered to mobile devices also fits and Cisco master plan. It predicts that, by 2013, video will be about 60 percent of total data through mobile networks. In addition to the potential of big, new faces in the security industry, there are Software-as-a-service pioneers. For example, Brivo Systems LLC recently said it has integrated Samsung Electronics DVR technology from Samsung | GVI with Brivo’s ACS WebService 9.2 Release. Among the advantages: End-users can view live and archived video at multiple locations from a single Browser interface from anywhere, anytime.