IBM enters the physical security fray

Thursday, November 9, 2006

ARMONK, N.Y.--IT giant IBM announced in early November the introduction of what it's calling "the industry's most advanced digital surveillance technology ever." The analytics suite, called S3, will be available in the spring of 2007, as part of IBM's Digital Video Surveillance service product, which is currently available. DVS is based on IBM's successful IT service products, combining IBM hardware, software and support services with hardware and software from the likes of Broadware, Verint, NICE, Panasonic, Bosch, Pelco and Cisco, and installation support from ADT and Anixter.
"Our involvement in physical security is probably one of the best-kept secrets in the industry," said Sam Docknevich, IBM's security practice leader for Digital Video Surveillance. "We're hoping to change that next year."
Docknevich said the move into physical security comes at the behest of current clients, asking IBM for "an integrated approach that spans physical and logical security."
Dan Dunkel is president of consulting firm New Era Associates, specializing in IP technology and physical/logical convergence. He's been in discussions with IBM, and has these words of advice for physical security integrators: "You'd better get the IT expertise in-house so you can make the best presentation as to why IBM should partner with you. They're not experts in physical security, and they're looking for partners to educate themselves and their [IT reseller] channel. They want to [do this] faster than EMC or HP can do it."
As for the services product, Dunkel said few integrators understand the model IBM has in mind. "They see three dollars of integration services for every dollar of product they're going to sell," Dunkel said. Physical integrators who don't have the staffing or ability to manage an IP-networked based surveillance system after the fact "need to upgrade or merge with other integrators," Dunkel said.
Once IBM gets its advertising ramped up and is prominent in the market, Dunkel feels large firms will simply bring their business to IBM and say, "take care of this for me," because of IBM Global Services' reputation.
When it's released, IBM feels S3 will represent something else customers are asking for: analytics that offer the ability to search and index video by breaking video down into metadata that identifies discrete objects. Docknevich posited that if the authorities had had this capability during the DC sniper attacks, they would have been able to search for and identify all the white vans that matched the description of the suspects' vehicle on the reams of security video possessed by various private enterprises.
Though 3VR and Eptascape seem to offer similar capabilities, Docknevich said, “the last time I spoke with 3VR, they didn’t have the rules-based engine that broke the video into the discrete objects.” He was unfamiliar with Eptascape, but confident S3 was unique.
However, 3VR cofounder Tim Ross said he had never spoken with Docknevich, and refuted his claims of uniqueness. “We specificially do create discrete events,” he said, “and we’re able to do it with the most types of analytics on the market, including IBM, which has been talking about this since 2003. We’ve been doing this in the real world, with real customers, for more than two years.”
Ross said, however, that IBM’s interest in the analytics market is great validation of the market’s potential.
"S3 is really step one," said Docknevich. "One of the things we're known for is our number of patents, and there are some other new technologies that we're looking to develop to keep helping our customers make their video useful."