Cisco, Axis vets team at Next Level

New firm to sell integrated security 'at a cost point where it becomes a no-brainer'
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

CARLSBAD, Calif.—Pete Jankowski was chief technology officer of Cisco’s physical security business unit until the networking giant decided to close its San Diego offices. Not wanting to move, Jankowski has decided to return to his start-up roots—having been CEO and CTO of SyPixx before Cisco bought it in 2006—and has created Next Level Security Systems, keeping with him much of his former Cisco/SyPixx staff.

Joining him is Jumbi Edulbehram, most recently director of business development at Axis and before that VP of strategic marketing at analytics maker IntelliVid, which was purchased by Tyco in 2008.

As VP of business development, Edulbehram will be charged with spreading the word about Next Level’s value proposition, but he said he’s not quite ready to divulge exact details about what Next Level will be selling. The coming out party, he said, will be ISC West.

However, what he does have to say about the company is intriguing.

“We’re building systems,” he said, “hardware as well as software, and there will be several hardware components, enough to build out an entire system. The whole idea is to build a wholly integrated system, basically accomplish all the core security functions, and have everything available on the network and available to be offered as a hosted service.

“And intelligent,” he continued, “meaning that it will have all the kinds of intelligence that are available in the security industry.”

Intelligence, however, doesn’t mean expensive. “I wouldn’t have done this,” he said, “unless this whole package is available at a cost point where it becomes a no-brainer. No matter how great all this stuff is, if it’s at a price point that turns people off, it’s just not going to get traction.”

He said the solution will be so cheap—inexpensive, rather—that end users considering replacing a DVR, and not even a high-end DVR, will see the Next Level solution as comparable in price, but accomplishing all that a DVR accomplishes, plus access control and intrusion functionality.

“We thought: Why not integrate all the core functions,” Edulbehram said, “provide all the information on the network, but do it at a price that competes with DVRs?”

In addition to price, Next Level will focus on ease of installation and integration, he said. “In our industry, if integrators were capable of quickly integrating everything at the software level and customizing it, that would be great. But the truth is that they’re not. They want a device that does what they want it to do, it’s easy to install, and it’s easy to manage. And these open platforms that run on off-the-shelf equipment, we found they’re just not that easy to configure because that’s the price you pay for the openness. Ours is literally targeted to these applications—you plug it in, and it finds everything, it’s a basic configuration, and if you want to do more you can do more.”

Which is not to say the Next Level equipment will be incompatible with other systems. But it will be appliance based, and it will be a platform that other applications can plug into, something along the iPhone model.

The products will also feature pre-configured network security—“we’ve taken care of all of that,” Edulbehram said—that should make the product IT-department-friendly.

Edulbehram said the company is moving fast, and should have a suite of products ready to sell at ISC West. Because the company is privately funded, “we’re really moving at a breakneck speed,” he said.

“We don’t have to justify every decision we make to anybody.”