Post storm updates


I got back from vacation just in time for the big ‘ole snowstorm that shut down the East Coast Sunday and Monday.

Some of you who live in more hospitable climates might think that was poor timing; not I. As long as my power doesn’t go off for too long, I love a Nor’Easter. This one, at least in the Portland, Maine area, dropped enough snow to make it a work-from-home day, but we only lost power for a couple hours at my house, not long enough for my Mac or my iphone to lose its charge, or for the pipes to freeze, or for my kids to get nervous about me, then, losing my sense of humor. Really no technical difficulties at all, just a good snow day.

So, who said nothing happens in the business world over the holidays?

Busy couple of weeks in security land indeed.

I interviewed Aisling MacRunnels on Monday about 3VR’s plans for the $17 million it scored on Dec. 21 It’s the second time I’ve spoken to Aisling in a couple weeks. She’s 3VR’s new CMO, and she came to 3VR after running marketing for Sun Microsystems. We posted that story yesterday.

And how about the Ascent Media/Monitronics $1.2 billion deal going down after five on Friday, Dec. 17?  It’s well known that Monitronics has been available for purchase for a number of years. More than one person told me—after word started circulating last August that Monitronics was officially on the block—that the fact that this deal was being actively shopped said something good about the improving business climate and general confidence in security investments. If this deal actually went down, I heard, it would bode very well for the industry. Monitronics has a complicated capital structure. Having done many different rounds of funding, it has lots of investors who got in at various stages, valuations and time horizons. And, that makes it hard to make everyone happy.

I’ll be interested to see the final numbers on the deal. As Dan noted in his second-day story,  there’s a lot of missing information right now. And, because Monitronics is a dealer-based business, we really need to get a clearer picture of account creation costs and attrition rates before the deal can be compared to ADT/Broadview, Pro One and several other 2010 transactions.

And speaking of numbers and figuring, just before my vacation and as we were shipping off the January issue of SSN, I wrote a story about a new Total Cost of Ownership [TCO] study  that compares the cost of a hypothetical IP system with a hypothetical analog system for a retail application. Network camera maker Axis touted the study in a Dec. 8 press release, and I spoke to Axis's Fredrik Nilsson for the story I wrote. The study, by Lusax, a Sweden-based research group, found that the breakeven point where an IP system is less expensive than an analog system is 14 cameras.

The study was criticized by some, including Ari Erenthal of B&H Photo in Manhattan. A frequent commenter on Security Systems News stories and blogs, Ari contacted me with some criticisms. In general, he believes the study’s specifications were designed in such a way “to give the IP system the most advantages possible.”

He emphasized to me that he is not necessarily a proponent of one type of system over another. “I’m a security practitioner. My customers use surveillance as a tool to achieve security. I’m not supposed to be dedicated to one or another technology. I look at the need, and [give advice] to fill the need,” he told me. He also said “there are a lot of good reasons to choose an IP system, but price is not one of them.”

Furthermore, he noted that he’s a big fan of Axis cameras and is very likely to recommend an Axis product when he does an IP set up.
 In addition to a general comment, which I included in the story, Ari sent me some more specific criticism of the study and a “binding quote” which is good for 30 days. (Time’s running out on that 30 days at this point—you’ll have to call Ari to see if he’ll extend it for you.)

Below is a synopsis of what Ari sent me that I thought some of you installers out there may be interested in.

1) Erenthal said the camera requirement is too vague.  “The study says 12 indoor domes.” Erenthal questions; “What lux, what lens, what other features? The study does say 480 VTL ... I haven’t recommended a 480 VTL camera in years ... because your average camera is 520 or 540 or even 560 VTL.” Erenthal surmises that 480 VTL was specified to force the bidders to choose from “the few available 480 VTL cameras that have not been discontinued.” The specification for “Quality ‘brand’ name cameras” is vague, he said, and that allows researchers “to look at any dissenting bid and say, no, that isn’t what we meant—those cameras aren’t quality or brand name. “
“I specified 14 Bosch FlexiDome XT+ series domes. They’re indoor/outdoor, DN rated, 540 VTL, 3.7~12mm, which means they’re good for almost any application you can think of (not knowing exactly the application beyond ‘retail’). Retail price is $289.95” 

2) Erenthal said the length of the cable runs is another problem. The study calls for an average cable length of 100ft/camera (video coax) and 65foot/camera, he said. “Why not use Siamese cable to a power box at the DVR? It makes no sense to run two lines and then put the power at a location 45’ from the DVR unless you’re trying deliberately to run up installation costs. ... Therefore, I ignored that and put 1500’ of Siamese and a power box on my quote.”

3) Erenthal does not like the DVR specification. “They specify mid-end ‘brand’ name DVR H.264 compatible incl. storage, and for storage parameters, they ask for “In Store, Minimum 7 days @ 24 hours/day, Open Store: 15 fps (18 h/per day), Close store 1: fps (6/day). Outside Store Minimum 7 days @ 24 hours/day. 10 fps avg. (24 h)”
“These requirements are clearly chosen to maximize the attractiveness of an IP solution. It also never specifies a DVR, just ‘mid end brand name.’ I chose the Paragon 264 from Everfocus with a 2TB hard drive installed. That’ll give you 30 fps per camera, 24 hours a day, for about 6 weeks at D1, way past the required specs, for $2,599.95’ 
Ari says his total cost is $7,357.21 not including shipping, compared to the Lusax installation cost of  $10,000.

A few hours before the Monitronics deal was announced on Dec. 17 Samsung and GVI Security announced that their partnership is kaput. No hard feelings, but they’re breaking up as of Jan. 1, 11, ending the deal where GVI was master distributor for Samsung. I spoke to Samsung’s Frank De Fina that day. Here’s that story. And I caught up with GVI CEO Steve Walin yesterday about the termination of the partnership and GVI’s plans for 2011. Here’s that story.  

Other news? I caught up with Genetec EVP Alain Cote about Genetec's acquisition of Sipelia. Here’s that story. Oh, and summer-model company Pinnacle Security is in hot water again, this time in Ohio. Here’s Tess’s report on that.

HID’s parent company Assa Abloy closed the $1.62 million ActiveIdentity deal on Dec. 17; made plans to acquire Cardo on Dec. 16—Assa Abloy wants to keep Cardo's Entrance Solutions division and ditch Cardo’s other operations in wastewater solutions and paper processing equipment business; on Dec. 23, Assa announced that it would a pay $80 million for LasarCard. HID can’t talk further about the LasarCard deal until it’s closed, but I’ll be speaking tonight to Jay Beaghen of Imperial Capital. Imperial was the exclusive financial advisor to LasarCard on the deal.

Will any more deals get done before twenty-eleven dawns?