Cisco on standards, ISC West

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03/09/2009
There’s been quite a bit of buzz about Cisco’s doings in the industry. Any number of online ponderers have wondered openly about Cisco’s commitment level, especially considering their apparent absence from ISC West (not on the exhibitor list). So, I called up Pete Jankowski, director of product marketing at Cisco (actually, I arranged a conversation through a PR gal, but that’s just like calling someone up in this day and age), and Cisco’s liaison to the PSIA, who handed over a great deal of work that eventually turned into PSIA’s device discovery specification. Here's our conversation (the transcribing is a little quick and dirty, so forgive any typos): Sam: So, Pete, why’d Cisco join ONVIF, if you’re already so involved in the PSIA? Jankowski: One thing is, having the two standards is better than having multiple standards for every camera manufacturer out there. I’d like to get PSIA and ONVIF together, get their models together, maybe eventually getting one standard, getting that through SIA, and that’s eventually going to a ANSI standard. And Cisco has a lot of products that are just video, not necessarily surveillance, so we need to be able to support both PSIA and ONVIF. We’re working on a project called Medianet, an initiative to make the network much more video content friendly. It’s: recognize a camera, or an encoder, authenticate it, set up QoS for the video, set up an RSVP connection, which would change the bit rate, etc. So that’s what Cisco is working on internally, the switching and routing portion of the business, with our telepresence group, digital media signage group, Scientific Atlanta, and Linksys for home stuff. Just make it easier to deploy video and audio products, make it much easier to set up and the network a lot friendly to the video. If you drop packets or the bit rate, the video can fall apart, so making the networ more friendly for the video is what Medianet is all about. That being said, PSIA and OINFVI are building standards based on two different types of methodology. One is SOAP, which is ONVIF, then there’s PSIA which is REST and xml based. both of them have their merits. It’s almost a religion. Some like web services, some like xml. Sam: But they’re not mutually exclusive, right? Jankowski: There is overlap, the idea is eventually – what I’m hoping, the groups are still talking – the data is all the same. If you ask for the stream for the camera, it’s the same with both, an RTSP stream. The cameras are putting out the same thing, just over a different community request, but the end result is exactly the same, so eventually I’m hoping that we’ll get the data models pushed together and come up with more of a unified standard, but I don’t think that will happen right away. That will take a little bit of time. But either one is pretty good. They’re both going to be very helpful for integrators and customers, anyone deploying IP cameras, third-party software vendors, they only have to write to two of these, and it will make their lives so much easier. Currently ONFIV is using WS discover to bind the devices, and PSIA is using zero config, which is bonjour, the Apple standard. That’s what the discoveries are being based on, and then provisioning is RESTful and SOAP. But both groups are talking, and they’re planning a meeting at the ISC West show. There will be a lot of work together. This is not betamax vs. VHS, or blu-ray vs. HD – it’s just a way of talking to the devices, and currently the industry doesn’t have a standard, so this way there will only be two. Sam: And so how does this work with SIA? Jankowski: SIA has a whole data model put together, but they never really came together on the other side. That’s one reason these other two started up. We’re also all working with SIA, so it’s going to be all collaborative, hopefully. But I don’t think, in my opinion, that everyone will follow the SIA data model right now. And then you’ll start seeing PSIA has some initiatives around access control, video analytics, and storage, so those three initiatives that they’re starting up. And ONVIF is staring up in storage as well. So as these initiative are put together, the plan is to make them all interoperable. And I might be able to participate and help out. One of the things that’s lacking in a lot of the standards is network security, in my opinion, just stuff like encrypting the video, authenticating the video at the end of the network, when you’re logging in, password protection, device-attach protection, those types of things, almost none of the companies do a very good job of that at all. They put an Ethernet nick on the back, and almost use it like a serial port, they don’t consider the ramifications of physical network security, and we can help both of them get those network security standards in there and help them with those. So their end devices are secure end devices, that’s one of the big benefits that Cisco can offer. I’ve been pushing that with both. I’ll be doing a presentation to both groups on Medianet. Sam: Okay, so then I want to ask you about ISC West. There’s a lot of buzz about why you guys aren’t exhibiting. What’s happening there? Jankowski: That had something to do with our marketing budgets, we had our marketing budgets changed last year, and Cisco has a group that runs all their large trade shows, so they bill our business unit an extraordinary amount of money for a trade show. We couldn’t do it ourselves, so we had a choice between ISC and ASIS. So they made the decision that we’d do a huge splash at ASIS and do meeting rooms and seminars and speeches at ISC West, so we won’t do a booth, but we can now get around the Cisco requirement for supporting a booth. Sam: You mean you weren’t just going to do a 10x10 at ISC West, if you were going to do it, you were going to do it. Jankowski: We could have done a 10x10, actually, but if you go to a 20x20, it has to be corporate run, and it’s a huge amount of money. Even though we’ve got a bunch of new products, especially around IP cameras, we figured that AISS would be a bigger show and we could do a bigger splash. Everybody says you’ve got to be crazy not to have a booth at ISC. And I think that will change later, that position, we’ll be at ISC again. But that’s the reason why we’re not there this year. Sam: So, you’re not thinking of pulling out of physical security altogether, as some have posited? Jankowski: Security is on John Chambers’ top list, there’s going to be a lot of focus on it, probably a lot more focus, I would expect, in the next year.

Comments

When you find cisco on the show floor at ISC West ,in the Scansource booth, you will be amazed to see how their secuirty program is not just a fleetng glance. It may not move markets for the 800 pound guarilla but when Microsoft lines up at ISC West and IBM is alread there, the pieces of the high and mighty will all be under roof. At ISC. Where the security industry meets is the confluence of all IT . Where it leads is a mystery.

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