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Turn the music down

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Saturday, February 28, 2009
Here's an argument for turning the music down a tad.

TechSec worth the trip

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Friday, February 27, 2009
So I'm back from TechSec Solutions, and I have to say the action was pretty awesome. This was my first time at TechSec Solutions and I really enjoyed meeting all the presenters and exhibitors. TechSec presented a valuable opportunity for me to meet a portion of the people who comprise this industry upon which I report, as well as a chance for me to learn a little more about what makes security such an important and resilient industry. My trip to TechSec was not without its challenges. I traveled from Portland, Maine on Monday morning, February 23. My flight (which the airline assured me repeatedly was due to depart "on time") was supposed to leave at 6 a.m. Now, being a conscientious traveler, I wanted to be there two hours early, which meant I had to be there at 4 a.m. I live about an hour from Portland Jetport, which meant leaving my house at 3 a.m. Okay, that's pretty darn early, but when you factor in the blizzard we were having (complete with downed trees across the major roadways and area-wide blackouts) that actually meant getting up at 2 a.m. to ensure quality shoveling time with the 14 inches of heavy wet snow blocking my driveway. I arrived at the Jetport at 4 a.m. and was a little gratified and a little irritated when the x-ray machine operator at the security check point chuckled and said "Buddy, you're the first one through... hope your plane actually leaves." "You mean 'leaves on time,' right?" I asked. "Yeah, whatever you say, man," he said, shaking his head. My plane did leave, but not until around 8 a.m., after we'd sat at the gate for two hours, the tug trying and failing on the icy tarmac to taxi the plane out of the gate. It had been a long day already, and I wasn't even off the ground in Portland yet. Once in the air, things got a little better. I had some pretzels and a Diet Coke and took a little nap, waking up just in time to land in Newark, N.J. Ten minutes after my connection took off. The first thing I did was call NMC's Irving, Texas central station manager Stefan Rayner with whom I had a scheduled visit that afternoon. Obviously, I would be later than we had planned. He said not to worry and that he'd wait around until I could make it out there for a visit to NMC's cool new facility. I then got myself on a later flight and settled in for my layover, feeling kind of uncomfortable and sticky (I lost power while shoveling my way out of my house in Maine. I thought nothing of it while shoveling, and didn't realize the full implications of having an electric water pump until I'd finished shoveling and tried to take a shower--no such luck. Fortunately, Portland Jetport had power, and I had lots of time to kill since I'd gotten there two hours early. So I grabbed a shave and cleaned up a bit, much to the later delight, I'm sure, of Stefan and everyone setting up at TechSec.) I was rewarded in several ways on landing in Dallas. First of all, the snow I'd battled in the wee morning hours that morning was nothing more than a chilling memory in warm, sunny Dallas. Secondly, my visit to NMC's new monitoring center in nearby Irving was all I could have hoped for. My predecessor Leischen Stelter visited NMC last year, but it was before the center was fully staffed and operational. The facility is all glass and steel and concrete and chrome with stylish blue shaded lights hanging from the shadowed recesses of a high ceiling filled with ducts and piping. Stefan met me in a conference room off of the lobby, and when I asked to see the actual operator area, he walked to a wall of frosted, opaque glass and pushed a button. The glass wall immediately faded to clear, and I could see the banks of work stations on the other side, positioned below two large ceiling-mounted monitors dominating the room. I had a nice tour and talked at length with Stefan about NMC's Irving facility, the monitoring they do there, and what it was like to move from Aliso Viejo, California (where NMC's other monitoring center is) to Texas. Stefan was one of only three people to move from the original California center out to Texas to oversee the launch of the new facility. The third way in which I was rewarded upon my arrival in Texas was checking in at the Fairmont in downtown Dallas, where I finally took a shower, dressed in a clean suit, picked up my badge and began meeting and greeting attendees. The show went well. Everyone I spoke with enjoyed the networking and educational sessions. See ssnTVnews for highlights.

Panasonic hearts Pelco, and vice versa

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Friday, February 27, 2009
I'm working on a round-up of TechSec, day two, but in the meantime check out this announcement that came into my box this week: Panasonic and Pelco have entered into an "interoperability effort." Next up: cats on roller skates and a Bush/Castro family picnic. If you don't think the security market has changed significantly in the past five years, you're not paying attention. Whether it's the IP movement or just new business realities coming to bear, old rivals are making new bedfellows all over the place. Anyway, I don't have a web link, so here's a cut and paste of the release:
Panasonic and Pelco Enter Interoperability Effort. Secaucus, NJ (February 24, 2009) – Panasonic System Solutions Company and Pelco have aligned under the Panasonic Solution Developer Network (PSDN) in an effort to expand the interoperability of both companies’ video surveillance solutions to best serve the needs of customers. As a new PSDN member, Pelco plans to support Panasonic’s i-Pro network camera lineup under its enterprise-class IP-based video security system and management platforms. The joint effort reflects both companies’ commitment to interoperability and meeting the market demand for integrated security solutions at the enterprise level.
I mean, seriously, Pelco wants to make it possible for Panasonic cameras to more easily integrate with Pelco video management software? This seems like a really good sign for integrators and end users looking forward to an interoperable future.
Pelco currently supports Panasonic i-Pro network cameras with its Digital Sentry Digital Video Management System (DVMS). Expanded interoperability efforts will focus on Pelco’s Endura platform, supporting the i-Pro cameras. Panasonic and Pelco will work together to quickly accomplish the interoperability to meet existing customer demand. “Everything we do at Panasonic System Solutions Company is about empowering customers and serving their needs,” said J.M. Allain, President, Panasonic System Solutions Company. “We are committed to an ‘Open Infrastructure’ and are pleased to work with Pelco and other industry suppliers to meet the demands of end users on a common platform – the IT network.” “Delivering open and integrated systems is a cornerstone of Pelco’s product development focus,” said Dave deLisser, Director of Integration at Pelco. “We are excited about expanding our interoperability with Panasonic i-Pro cameras to our enterprise class video management systems.”
I actually believe those quotes to be true, but some of the old-school guys in the industry have got to be thinking this is bizarro-world.
Panasonic System Solutions created the PSDN program several years ago to develop partnerships that complement and extend its lineup of security and surveillance products to better meet both integrator and end user requirements. As part of its “Open Infrastructure” initiative, the PSDN program provides members, including Pelco, with development tools, technical information and assistance to integrate with Panasonic products. In September 2008, Panasonic announced the global expansion of its PSDN program, better enabling multinational integrators and end users with broader interoperability. Through PSDN, Panasonic is helping to provide resellers with expanded product solution offerings and end users with seamless security solutions.

ONVIF update

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Here's the confirmation of the Cisco membership in Axis-Bosch-Sony-driven specification-developing body ONVIF, along with a few more member and position announcements:
ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) announces today that the forum has accepted 18 new members since the beginning of 2009. Cisco, Samsung and Siemens have joined the forum as full members and Anixter and Milestone as contributing members. ONVIF has now grown to a total of 40 member companies. A complete listing can be found at www.onvif.org . In line with its growing member base, ONVIF has extended the number of seats in each forum committee to a total of five seats from the previous three. The new positions have been filled through an invitation and election process that was finalized in mid February. As a result, Cisco and Panasonic are now members of both the Steering Committee and the Technical Committee. Samsung was voted into the Technical Services Committee and the Communication Committee, and the final seats in the Technical Services Committee and Communication Committee were taken by Anixter and Hikvision respectively.
Get all the details here.

Addendum

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Well, this, I guess, could be an argument against security as a service. But only if you're doing managed access control through Google. (Which doesn't actually exist, to clarify.)

TechSec, Day 1

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Well, we had a great first day here in Dallas for TechSec Solutions, now in year 5, with some well-received presentations and some interesting technology on the show floor. Attendance is a bit down - I'm not sure how we could have avoided that in this climate - but spirits are surprisingly up. Those people who are here aren't exactly crowing of boom times, but most talk about the opportunity that a down economy presents for aggressive companies with technology that solves real problems. (Of course, I don't think any conference wants to open on a day when the Wall Street Journal leads with a story about how the market is 50 percent off its peak.) Anyway, remember that post where I wondered about whether IPv6 was a big deal or not? Well, our keynoter, Jack Johnson, former CSO for DHS, apparently feels IPv6 is a big deal. He used his presentation to argue that it presents quite a few difficulties for a security staff. Chief among them is the fact that, while security is built into IPv6, there are also inherent ways for malicious hackers to hide their efforts and the increase in addresses makes the 'Net far more difficult to police and scan. Further, it's possible hackers will be able to much more accurately target those they'd like to damage, and may even be able to actually keep tabs on, say, people they'd like to target for assassination, simply by tracking their IP-enabled mobile device using its unique global IP number. Kind of scary, really. This was followed up nicely with a presentation by the Open Security Exchange, including Laurie Aaron from Quantum Secure, Dan Moceri from Convergint, Chip LeBlanc from Imprivata, and Dan Dunkel, who consults as New Era Associates. Their message centered on convergence in real life, a bringing together of the IT and security departments, not just a new technology for moving around security data. Following on Jack's speech, which essentially emphasized that the physical security department will be increasingly important in protecting the end points of a company's network, their message was that data loss is an increasingly important threat organizations need to guard against, and a simple convergence technique - like marrying logical and physical identities so that when an employee is terminated their physical access and network access are eliminated at the same time - can prevent real damage to a corporation or government entity. I think their message was well received, even if some attendees have convergence-fatigue. Maybe the best-received panel of the day came from Fredrik Nilsson of Axis, Steve van Till of Brivo and Andres Armeda of Secure-i. They spoke of the new trend of managed access control and managed video as delivered by security installers and integrators. They asked a simple question: You use software as a service for so many vital operations in your life and business already - online banking through your browser, salesforce.com, investment management with your broker - why should security be any different? And why are security alarm companies, so great at creating RMR, not jumping on providing this service? A number of integrator attendees have told me they're looking to increase their RMR - one said frankly they only do about two percent of their revenue in RMR - but they're having trouble figuring out the mechanism. Managed access, particularly, since it's not bandwidth intensive, seems to offer that mechanism. Other problems, however, include changing a culture at an integrator that has been focused on landing the big $1 million job, and maybe doesn't know how to compensate for someone who lands a $599-a-month account. Also drawing a good crowd was the storage panel I moderated, pitting leading voices from DNF, EMC, Intransa, and Pivot3 against one another (okay, it just seemed like they were pitted against one another - really it was a simple panel discussion, but, boy, there was a bit of sniping going on). Dick O'Leary from EMC, being the big dog in the room, bore the brunt of backhanded compliments, but handled it with aplomb, at one point noting that he wasn't sure whether EMC knew about a certain technology, since they'd only spent $1.7 BILLION in R&D last year. Still, attendees told me they appreciated getting an understanding of how these storage manufacturers differentiate themselves, as it can be difficult to figure out what the difference really is. And then, well, everyone went to the main hall for the free drinks. You'll see more on the show in the Thursday newswire, and hopefully we'll have some video up from the show later today. SsnTVnews is going to be bumping with new interviews and full-length videos of the keynote and other sessions in short order. It'll be just like you were here (except no free drinks).

Cisco joins ONVIF?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The bar at the Fairmont is always a treasure trove of information during TechSec Solutions, and this year is no different. Most interesting thing overheard: Cisco, which supplied the basis for the PSIA's device-discovery specification, has joined ONVIF. I'm working on a link to confirm that, but I haven't found it yet. I'm thinking Wednesday's Standards panel is going to be a hum-dinger.

And the Pelco Access buyer is:

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Monday, February 23, 2009
In a not-unexpected move (a little birdie told me this was going to happen), the former Integral guys have bought the access division back from Pelco and will spin off as a new company. It actually happened on Friday, but I've been doing some traveling and seeing some music in Austin, so I'm just getting around to posting this today. Sorry about that. I don't have a web link, but here's a cut-and-paste of the release:
Pelco Sells Intelli-M Electronic Access Control Business Unit, to infinias, LLC. CLOVIS, CALIFORNIA – February 20, 2009 – Pelco, Inc. today announced that it has signed an agreement to sell the Intelli-M® Electronic Access Control product line to infinias, LLC. The deal which will include intellectual property, assets, and products in development related to the Intelli-M product line is set to close on our around March 16, 2009. Infinias, LLC a newly formed and independent company, will focus on the development, growth and support of the Intelli-M business, while maintaining integration with Pelco video security products.
I think it's a good sign that the companies will remain friendly and the integration of the products will continue. This might just be a more efficient way to market the access product, even if there's a little bit more overhead in creating a new company. It allows there to be focus, from marketing through sales, on one product line.
Until the transition is complete Pelco dealer and distributor customers will continue to purchase products and obtain support for warranty and repairs direct from Pelco. At the close of the sale, infinias, LLC will take over all sales and support, including warranty support for Intelli-M products previously sold by Pelco. Pelco customers can expect the same level of support from infinias, LLC as they have been receiving through Pelco.
Ugh. Please notice that infinias is another one of those companies that dislikes being a proper noun. Why? Why would you want to send the message that you believe your company is a common noun? It makes no sense to me - it subconsciously indicates to any English speaker that your company is implicitly less important than a company that capitalizes itself. Just sayin'.
“Pelco decided that the best way to serve our customers is to stay focused on our core video products, and to spin off the access control business unit to infinias, LLC who, as the current development team, are best suited to maintain and expand the Intelli-M access control business,” said Dean Meyer, President and CEO of Pelco, Inc. “We will work with infinias, LLC to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.”
This is consistent with what Dean told me here.
Wayne Jared, Pelco Vice President of EAC Engineering will lead infinias, LLC, as President and CEO, once the transaction is complete. Other key members of the Pelco EAC team based in Indianapolis, Ind., will join the new company as well. “Infinias, like Pelco, is committed to our customers and to providing continued support for today’s Intelli-M products,” says Jared, “We will also develop new simple, scalable and secure products to meet the future needs of the EAC market.”
I'm putting in a call to Jared today and hopefully will have a few more quotes from him by newswire day on Thursday.
The Intelli-M product line today consists of the eIDC a cutting-edge Ethernet enabled integrated door controller which is one of the first POE door controllers introduced to the security market; and Supervisor Plus® a full-featured scalable security management software system that integrates access control, intrusion detection, photo badging and digital video. A new addition to the Intelli-M family will be announced at ISC West.
Meyer did mention they were spending more on R&D than they were getting back in sales, so the new ISC product may very well be pretty interesting. If you want to poke around, it looks like they've already set up www.infinias.com. I'm fairly impressed, actually, with how fast they turned around a new logo and corporate identity. That stuff isn't as easy as it looks.

Attn: Centrals with accounts in Northern Utah: 10-digit dialing

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Friday, February 20, 2009
I just came across this story from localnews8.com, which promises a real hassle of time to come for any central stations with accounts in the Northern Utah area code 801. Apparently strong population growth has exhausted the allotted phone lines, and the Utah Public Service Commission is being forced to add a new area code, 385, to accommodate. I just did a quick check at NBFAA's website. There're close to 30 security companies in 801 who're members. Yikes. This will of course require centrals to track down their accounts with numbers that need to be changed, and set up a truck roll with their local technician to go to each account and reprogram the panel. Seems like a big pain in the neck. But such is the price we pay for progress and population.

Gillmore joins SNA

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Friday, February 20, 2009
Just got this release today and thought I'd post it since I just recently learned about Gillmore Security. (I talked to Alan Gillmore last month. And there's a story in the upcoming March issue about this high-end resi company, which is located in Cleveland.) Gillmore just joined Security Networks of America. SNA is a group that's been around for quite a while, but "is pretty quiet in the industry," according to Dave Carter who gave a presentation at the recent Barnes Buchanan Security Alarm Conference. There's a brief in the March issue about that presentation. SNA is a member organization that's limited to privately held companies that have their own central station. SNA's holding its executive IT conference in Dallas on Monday, co-locating with our TechSec conference, which takes place Tuesday and Wednesday. I expect to get a chance to catch up with the folks from Gillmore and some of the other SNA members and will have more to report later. For now, here's the release:
Gillmore Security is Newest Shareholder in Security Network of America SOUTHERN PINES, NC (February 13, 2009) – Security Network of America (SNA) the organization in which independent security firms work together to compete successfully with giant national firms, announces its newest shareholding company, Gillmore Security of Cleveland, Ohio. “We’re very pleased to welcome Gillmore Security as a charter shareholder of SNA,” said Managing Director David W. Carter. “For nearly 40 years, Gillmore has been providing exceptional security service to businesses and residences in northeastern Ohio.” Participation in SNA is limited to firms that are privately owned, have a proven track record in the security and alarm business, own and operate their own UL Listed central station monitoring facilities and do not compete directly with each other. Today 36 SNA companies operate in 30 states and three Canadian provinces. Ranked collectively, SNA companies are among the top six security providers in North America. “Membership in SNA brings significant advantages,” Carter said. “As a corporate entity, our members can share key operational indicators to evaluate how we compare to our peers, the education and training programs we’ve developed keep our members on the cutting edge professionally and our combined purchasing power helps us gain leverage with equipment suppliers.” “At Gillmore Security, we’ve never been concerned about being the biggest, just about being the best,” said CEO Alan Gillmore III, whose father founded the firm in 1971. “We see our involvement with SNA providing us with significant advantages that will translate into even better service for our customers. SNA companies are in the same field, and I’ve always felt that the best way to learn is from people who are facing the same challenges you are. “Even though we operate regionally, participation in SNA gives us a national perspective that I’m convinced will help us serve our customers better than ever.”

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