IP Video Surveillance Missed Channel Opportunity

D-Link Surveillance CameraSafe to say that physical security and networking security reside in two distinct and separate camps.  And when the channel renews its efforts in security, it’s seldom the former.

In recent years, physical security – which connotes functions that range from badge-scannd doors to video surveillance —  has remained an area largely overlooked by the channel. But now, in light of a growing fervor around IP video surveillance, the channel’s resistance will likely result in missed opportunities to cash in on a space that’s not only growing but starting to experience a robust and viable renaissance.

The channel’s reticence when it comes to physical security in general, and video surveillance in particular, isn’t entirely unwarranted. The video surveillance market has largely remained static for the better part of three decades, stymied by commoditization, market saturation and little technological innovation. As such, significant growth in related markets has been anemic at best, putting distinctive roadblocks to any further channel penetration or broader distribution.

Consequently, physical and networking security channels have remained as church and state, with little crossover – for numerous reasons. Spikes in technological innovation, and intensifying market demand prompted the channel to place further investments and sales efforts in networking software and security arenas. Additionally, renewed focus around network security technologies, heralded by an explosion of dedicated and niche firms, elicited high-margin service opportunities for the channel that gave them little reason to extend their practices to the physical realm.

Meanwhile, the fact that video surveillance markets have remained largely stagnant did little to incent partners to add it to their portfolios — much less build out practices that would likely produce diminished returns.

However, despite its historical lag, physical security markets may be priming for a bit of a rebirth in the near future. The reason is attributed to the growing noise around intelligence, Big Data and analytics, which have invariably made a mark on numerous industries, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. And the recent fervor around intelligence-based systems, bolstered by the progression from analog to digital and again to IP-based video devices, will ultimately pave the way for the industry’s growth and evolution.

That trend is already underway. The industry’s projected revival is underscored by growth stats that estimate the Intelligent Video Surveillance market to experience a decade of rapid growth, spiking from $13.5 billion in 2012, to $39 billion by 2020.

Reasons are attributed to a variety of factors – one of the most significant being increased reliance on video surveillance, not just for security purposes but to examine human behavior and conduct market research.

As previously mentioned, recent innovations have breathed new life into the market, now well on a path toward technological maturity. Advancements in image processing, for example, has enabled automatic detection of signatures and more accurate identification, resulting in rising demand by both consumers and corporations.

Correspondingly, the exponential adoption of intelligence-based systems has also created an enormous outpouring of data, which organizations will soon be tapped to manage and control.

And finally, reduced costs of video analytic systems, driven by falling prices of image processing DSPs and communication systems, have also broadened the customer base, letting IP video technology fall within the reach of the SMB and lower market segments.

Subsequently, the anticipated growth of IP video surveillance has caught the attention of networking and networking security vendors, that are now starting to place new, but calculated, bets around the market.

Not surprisingly, Cisco Systems Inc. has recently led the charge. Cisco maintained last year that during 2013, more than 50 percent of all video surveillance deployments will be managed by IT on the IP network. As such, the San Jose, Calif.-based networking firm repurposed its efforts to video with a massive launch incorporating new IP surveillance cameras, a comprehensive management system and a slew of related managed services — despite quarterly revenues that fell slightly in the space last year.

Competitors have started to follow suit. Last year, unifed threat management firm Fortinet Inc. got into the video surveillance game last year with the debut of its FortiCamera line, the firm’s own IP-based video security solution.

Most recently, D-Link Systems Inc, already a video industry player, made a more concerted push in the space with the launch of a dome camera that bulked up its professional video surveillance line.

And others still, such as Extreme Networks, are dipping their toes in the IP video arena with supporting components – specifically an Ethernet-based physical security solution aimed squarely at the burgeoning market.

For partners, that spells tremendous potential opportunity, namely new combinations of networking and security services, as well as niche monitoring, forensics, analytics and identity offerings tailored to meet customers’ specific needs. With an unwieldy barrage of data produced from these systems, organizations will have little choice but to call upon the channel to processing, managing, prioritizing, storing and securing information their overburdened infrastructure.

But it will mean partners will have to take a few steps out of their comfort zones. Up until now, it’s been an opportunity that has largely been overlooked by the channel, likely hesitant to make new forays into a market that has historically delivered diminishing returns.

Right now, the industry is still at the beginning of the growth curve. But by all reports, it’s headed rapidly for exponential growth. And as traditional network security circles continue to commoditize, it will likely emerge as a more lucrative channel option, and one that should remain on partners radar going forward.