The IP Network is Your Future

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

I recently had the pleasure of a front row seat for a presentation by Cisco CEO John Chambers at the FOSSE show. Up until that day I thought the most impressive speech I had heard live was Colin Powell at last year's ASIS keynote. I have to give the nod to Chambers based on content specific to the security industry.

It is important to note that Cisco certainly has a vested interest in the future of IP. Perhaps equally import is that on this same day Cisco announced the purchase of SyPixx Systems, a firm specializing in tools to move legacy CCTV installations from analog to IP. If this is not a clear indication of the future of the video surveillance market for security integrators, then you just don't get IT.

Cisco's IP strategy and their unprecedented networking success are not by accident. In fact, Mr. Chambers' first few slides pointed to the fact that innovative companies take risks and beat competitors to market. Many times detailed market information is not available and instincts drive decisions. To quote him, "Successful companies and countries catch the transition cycle before it is obvious to others." Cisco made a bet over five years ago in their product cycles that IP would become the only true interoperability standard. That wager has paid off for the company and its investors alike.

I mentioned in my last column about how important understanding the history of the IT market is for the physical security integrator and industry in anticipating future technology cycles. A look a Cisco yesterday and today reinforces this point. John Chambers described the Cisco of the mid-90s as a company with 50 business units all operating as independent silos. The company formed what it termed "customer segment councils," and over the next two years, migrated business operations onto a standard IP network and open systems architecture.

Today, both financial institutions and industry analysts recognize Cisco's model of collaboration across their enterprise as "a sustainable competitive differentiator in a global market." Cisco unified all forms of communication (voice, video, data) over a common IP infrastructure for competitive advantage. Global businesses of all shapes and sizes are following suit. If you need another example of the power of the IP model consider this: Chambers also made the point that his most common form of communication within Cisco is video over IP. Welcome to the future of real-time video network collaboration.

There were several key take aways from this excellent speech. Perhaps none as powerful a future industry indicator as the following slide:

"The IP network...is the most scalable price performance platform since the microprocessor"

You might want to give this a few minutes thought regarding how it impacts your business and security convergence moving forward. His message is that government agencies, companies and countries must recognize IP as the interoperability engine that will drive security convergence applications into the future.

"The network will become the platform"

I want to leave you with the above quote from Chambers, and ask you to ask yourself a question about your business. Using an old line from a famous Cisco advertising campaign, when you look at the capabilities of your sales and technical support organization to embrace IP, "Are you ready?" If not, re-read the Cisco/SyPixx press release. The future of video surveillance (and security applications) is over IP and the IT vendors will use security convergence as a sales positioning strategy to take your market share.