All for One and One for All

Equipment has gained such popularity that sophisticated machines now in reach of anyone

DURING the past six years, the security industry has benefited substantially from breakthrough technology developments. While video surveillance is only one component of a comprehensive approach to a complete security plan, it seems to be the hottest product in the mind of many endusers. We are a society who wants to see, and likes to watch.

Today's security professional chooses from myriad of digitally-based video recorders. Competition is stiff, helping to bring the cost of these sophisticated machines into the reach of virtually anyone. DVR manufactures have developed products that serve a specific customer. These customers are driven by two factors: price, which usually translates into limited performance; or performance, which in turn, translates into a higher price. As the dust settles, multiple categories of products, pricing and performance emerge.

First, there is the proverbial VCR replacement, affectionately referred to as a "glorified VCR." Second, is an array of mid-range products which try and strike that magical median between high performance, high cost and low performance, low cost. Pick one. They are generally all the same. And, of course, the third category -- high-performance, high-cost machines.

Ah, nirvana, something for everyone.

The Problem
All is not always what it seems. Consider this: Within each category of niche products lie dozens of proprietary software built on multiple operating systems. Each product is unique in terms of user interface and how it actually works. Therefore, each product must be mastered by a sales and installation department. Having competent technical expertise across multiple product lines can provide significant barriers.

Many dealers reluctantly end up supporting products that are misunderstood by sales and technical people. The alternative is to force one product (high-end, low-end or middle of the road) to fit all applications or simply leave a significant volume of customers behind.

"That was exactly what prompted development of the POWERViZion line of DVR/NVRs," said Sayeed Zaman, director of product development for American Sentry Guard. "The idea behind POWERViZion was to streamline manufacturing, distribution, training and support costs. We wanted to offer an 'all for one, one for all' product line. Essentially, it is single-base software capable of performing varying levels of sophisticated applications. Each level requires a separate platform in terms of hardware support.

"The end result is a product that can be sold to an entry-level customer or one that can be sold to an enterprise-class customer. Both systems could talk to one another, and both customers could easily operate the other's system with little or no additional training."

Bob Lichon, director of dealer development for American Sentry Guard, sees it this way.

"This product can be custom built regardless of budget constraints or performance prerequisites," Lichon said. "My pitch to dealers is, 'Imagine having a single product that can be affordable to the local pizza shop, yet also take care of the most sophisticated casino, bank or high-profile government facility.' That gets them all thinking."

Price Versus Performance
The goal of POWERViZion was never to produce an "also ran" DVR capable of competing for mass market share.

"Dealers love the fact they can sell and support essentially a single product. One system might end up in a Subway franchise. A different system might end up in a New York City subway station. It all depends on the application. Performance is never an issue," said Jay Couch, national sales manager over the POWERViZion product line.

As sales manager for Diamond Security of Monroe, La., Ryan Soland searched for competitive DVR products for a public school project.

"At Diamond Security, our market required us to be able to provide cost-sensitive solutions," Soland said. "We were good at sourcing products with varying price points and matching functionality needs to that particular price point. POWERViZion gave us the reputation of being able to provide adequate solutions regardless of budgetary concerns."

High-Profile Praise
The gaming industry also has taken notice. Sean Pollard, a 15-year veteran and director of video surveillance in the gaming industry, had the opportunity to sample several digital products.

"In the gaming industry, we really have two completely different applications. Regulations governing how we execute surveillance within actual gaming areas are extremely demanding," Pollard said. "Regulations governing areas commonly referred to as back of the house are more relaxed in comparison. Everyone wants a shot at the casino business, so I never have a shortage of DVRs to test."

A common misperception about the gaming industry, where video surveillance is concerned, is that performance is everything and price is no object. Unfortunately, casinos still look at surveillance as a cost center. Performance standards are high, but that doesn't mean security departments are given a blank check.


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