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As physical security technology shifts from analog to a digital
format delivered over IP networks, Cisco has teamed up with physical
security equipment leader Pelco to drive wider adoption of physical
security technology.

The new technology partnership between Pelco and Cisco’s Wireless
Networking Business Unit (WNBU) will allow Pelco to deliver Cisco
networking-based physical security solutions, and give solution
providers from both vendors joint access to sales and support
opportunities.

The trend toward shifting legacy analog cameras, recording devices
and other physical security products to digital has been in the works
for a few years now, says Rob Morello, senior product marketing
manager, Pelco, and mirrors the adoption of telecommunications
technology.

“The trend today is much like the trends in the telecom space 10
years ago where there is a primarily legacy install base of analog
equipment, but now a lot of manufacturers are now introducing IP-based
products,” Morello says.

This trend opens the door for networking companies such as Cisco to
leverage IP networking expertise to bring digital physical security
technologies to a wider audience, he says, as well as improve ROI of
networking installations. Integrating physical security monitoring
technology with high-bandwidth networking solutions can improve the
value organizations get from their networking and security investments,
Morello says.

“As IP becomes more available, integrating physical security into
organizations’ networks has become much more attractive to C-level
executives,” he says.

Pelco is one of the best-known leaders in the physical security
equipment market, but Morello says outside of that, the company is
virtually unknown. He says working together with Cisco’s WNBU will
increase awareness of both companies in spaces where neither previously
had traction.

Morello says the partnership is also mutually beneficial from a
technology standpoint, since Pelco’s equipment is more sophisticated
than Cisco’s own physical security products, while Cisco’s
high-bandwidth networks will allow for better quality and increased
performance of video and audio feeds.

“We’d covered a lot of manufacturing companies, ports, bridges,
office buildings with physical security devices connected via wireless
networks,” Morello says. “But our bitrates were very high and the
throughput available was relatively low. What we were doing was fine
for data transmission, but video got choked up in the pipes,” he says

The new partnership has reduced Pelco’s bandwidth requirements
dramatically and Cisco’s throughput has increased exponentially, he
says. The availability of mesh-based products from Cisco allowed us to
validate and verify solutions that integrated Cisco’s mesh products and
Pelco’s video based products, he says.

As Cisco and Pelco begin a global rollout of solutions and jumpstart
training and education for both companies’ sales forces, Morello says
the solution providers should take notice, too.

Physical security grew as an industry about 10 percent in 2008, says
Morello, representing steady growth in spite of the economic downturn.
But that’s nothing compared to the growth predication for network-based
physical security, which grew 32 percent in 2008. For solution
providers whose customers might slow spending on IT-focused information
security solutions, physical security could be a way to drive new
business as well as provide upsell opportunties with existing
customers.

“If this is a great story for the providers, it’s an even better
story for these integrators. This is no doubt a growth industry, and a
lot of solution providers who have seen a slowdown are still picking up
some good revenue streams from physical security,” says Morello.

Ted Alben, vice president of Business Development, Mobility, for
Pelco solution provider Netversant, says he’s thrilled about the new
opportunities the Cisco partnership will bring.

“Security integration has taken hold over the last three to five
years with the movement of security systems from analog to digital,”
Alben says.

He says Cisco’s centrally managed networks will give his company
incredible visibility into customers’ networks, as well as easing
management and boosting network performance.

Cisco’s emphasis on standardizing network architectures is key for
the physical security customers Netversant serves, says Alben.

“Rote standardization is critical when you’re delivering these kind
of solutions to large enterprises, municipalities, education and
healthcare,” he says. And while Cisco/Pelco joint solutions won’t be
low priced, Alben says the technology and quality is far superior to
competitors like Aruba, Symbol and Trapeze.

“When we bring these solutions to customers, we’re not interested in
being the low-cost value player in the space. Rather, what we focus on
are the optics, the quality control in the products is absolutely
extraordinary,” he says.