Cisco Physical Security Updates Target Large-Scale IP Video Deployment

In a media briefing this week with Cisco executives, partners and customers, Guido Jouret, CTO of Cisco's emerging technologies group, said that it doesn't make sense to acquire technology from multiple vendors that play in the physical security space, such as Hewlett-Packard, Axis and Tyco, when Cisco has all the necessary pieces of the puzzle, from cameras to management software.

"You don't get end-to-end, you get lowest-common-denominator integration by buying each [piece] from different people," said Jouret, who urged customers not to mix and match platforms. Cisco not only knows what physical security looks like on a network, but also has "the best APIs in the business" for doing third-party application integration, he said.

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Physical security is now more than ever an IP networking discipline, Jouret argued, citing analyst estimates that by 2013 more than half of all video surveillance deployments will be managed by IT departments using an IP network. Customers also want to analyze the data they're collecting from those IP-enabled systems, from heat maps to the tracking of their customers to tighter integration between physical security infrastructure and other data center applications.

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The new version of Cisco Video Surveillance Manager, 7.0, is purpose-built for virtualized security operations in Cisco UCS B-series, UCS C-series and UCS Express deployments, according to Cisco. It can support up to 10,000 IP video surveillance cameras on a single server and, when combined with Cisco Physical Security Information Management applications, can manage more than 1 million video surveillance streams. VSM 7.0 also supports various Web and IT applications through APIs and SDKs.

VSM 7 also has a bigger role for Cisco's video network optimization technology, Medianet, which helps enable faster configuration and deployment of surveillance endpoints across network routers and switches, and Cisco's Media Services Proxy, which enables better prioritizing of video traffic, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based company.

Also new is a line of IP surveillance cameras, Cisco's 6000 series, which Cisco said offers on-board SD cards with flash memory, support for high definition and 2.1-megapixel resolution, and other features such as n+1 redundancy. The camera comes in four form factors: box IP camera, dome IP camera, indoor and outdoor.

Topping off Thursday's releases is a new set of Cisco Remote Management Services that partners can provide to customers seeking support for video surveillance, access control, unified incident management and other physical security applications.

Cisco doesn't break out exact revenue for its physical security products, but in response to a question from CRN, Jouret said Cisco is happy with its growth in the space.

"What I will say is, comparable to where we were in telephony in our first few years in the market, we are ahead of that, when we were in that business at that time," he said.

Most of Cisco's physical security channel business goes through about 50 specialized partners, Jouret said. Cisco's goal is to make its products and services easier to roll out, and VSM 7 advances the ball on that goal.

"We feel very good about VSM 7," Jouret said. "This is a much more powerful, much more simple way to deploy. So we will be looking at expanding to additional geographies and additional partners."

Ed Christmas, founder and managing principal of Sology Solutions, a Richardson, Texas-based solution provider specializing in physical security, said Cisco's approach showed understanding for that market's changing dynamics.

"Physical security and IT are talking together [about how] to integrate systems not just at a cabling level but at an application level," Christmas said.