AMAG stakes video claim

Sunday, June 1, 2008

TORRANCE, Calif.--While it made the new Symmetry Edge Network Controller, bringing PoE-enabled IP distributed intelligence to the door, the focus of its recent ISC West presence, AMAG had another story it was eager to tell: Hey, we’re video players now.

Known throughout the industry for its access control solutions, AMAG has, since the introduction in 2006 of its Symmetry Video Management Software and Edge Network Video Server, been slowly carving out a niche in the increasingly competitive IP video space. In late 2007, the company was especially active, announcing a collaboration with Vidient to incorporate its Smartcatch Intelligent Video Router into AMAG’s video management system; a partnership with Intransa providing AMAG resellers the opportunity to install Intransa IP storage systems; and a strategic alliance with Bosch to integrate its Dinion IP camera line into AMAG’s Symmetry system.

In the span of three months, AMAG created something of an ecosystem for its resellers that included software, an edge server, video analytics that could accommodate either analog or IP cameras, storage and an IP camera line.

“We’d added visitor management, ID management, intrusion, biometrics and smart cards,” said AMAG president Bob Sawyer, “so it made sense to say, ‘Alright, what’s missing?’ And what was missing was the video portion.”

“The way they’ve done it,” said Michael Riotto, vice president at integrator Advanced Video Surveillance, “is really innovative. It’s very flexible and we’ve had a lot of success with it.” AVS has been an AMAG dealer for eight years and, “When they offered the video solution, for a while they had the integration with the DVRs, and we were doing that, but when they came out with their own ENVS, we embraced it really heavily and our customers liked it.”

“It sits out on the network,” Riotto continued, “and all the video cameras are brought back there, which allows us to upgrade systems that have analog cameras and to use a lot of manufacturers. We get to spec the best camera for the applications, bring it back to the edge server, and if no one is requesting video, just record locally.”

Riotto said that school IT departments, particularly, have liked the new system, so much so they’ve ripped out existing DVR systems at other schools after new AMAG installations impressed them. Further, he said, even in this day of open architecture and talk of using best-of-breed components for each piece of a system, “most people, especially facility managers, they’ve run into troubles in the past where disparate companies don’t work together ... When you turn around and say we’ll just give you an AMAG system, it’s one point of contact, and there’s no finger pointing, there’s no arguing when something goes wrong.”

“That’s what the end user is going to want,” Sawyer said of the strategy, “a deeply integrated system, that just works seamlessly for them.

And that will never happen with an SDK [software development kit]. Some companies give us a lot with the SDK, but you’ll never get that deep integration with disparate systems ... But you will see less and less proprietary systems. We’re moving in that direction. The integration platform that we’re building is attempting to be as open as possible.”