John, you already know that I'm on an advisory board of PSIA, that I have vociferously participated in ONVIF activities, and that I favor the success of both groups. They have different approaches and given the amount ground to cover in terms of standards development, I support them both.
It’s a Rocky Road to Success
When I was instructing in an ASIS technology workshop last year, several attendees voiced their dissatisfaction with the current state of ONVIF implementation. They had relied on ONVIF interoperability in their overall system designs and product selections (I don't know all of the details), and they had to abandon that approach. They were not happy campers. At the same time, I did know that ONVIF was very actively working on addressing several key trouble points they mentioned. But there is a vendor implementation period involved, and that meant that what the attendees needed wouldn't be available in time for their projects. It’s been a rocky road.
Having said that, I also have a client who has been able to very successfully deploy new brand name camera products this year only because the cameras' high degree of ONVIF compliance made it possible, as their VMS vendor only supported the products through the ONVIF interfaces. This is a real result. The client needed the vendors’ technologies to all work together to address a very major risk, and it is working.
War is Stupid
You declared a while ago that the "standards war" had been "won" by ONVIF, to which I immediately replied that it is the end user customers who should be the winners in standards initiatives, and that there are enough differences between ONVIF and PSIA that saying one must win over the other is a baseless assertion.
The camera space (just part of what ONVIF is doing) is very complicated and also rapidly evolving in its technology. It's an understatement to say that what ONVIF is mainly focused on is a significant challenge, and there are a very large number of vendors to deal with, which adds to the challenges.
To answer your "what's the point?" question, I think the long term point is for customers to have a very high degree of interoperability at both the device and the systems level, and I see a need for the work that both groups are doing.
There is nothing wrong with accurately reporting on the comparative status of the two standards groups, but declaring one a winner serves no purpose, as there is not really a war and both groups are carrying on in their own way. It is just stupid and undermines the valuable work they are doing. That’s not beneficial for end users, who need both groups to make even faster progress.
It took the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)—a huge and highly technical user group—8 and a half years to develop the BACnet interoperability protocol. After several major rounds of development and review, it was completed and finally approved as an ANSI standard 6 months after it was released by ASHRAE. It took another two years before major deployments could be done because the manufacturers had to implement support in their product lines and had been dragging their feet. Many big-name vendors opposed the interoperability initiative and were finally forced into adopting the protocol because large end users took a stance, including the largest landlord in the world—the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
Finally—Significant End User Support Appears
There is no equivalent of ASHRAE in the physical security world, and so the physical security interoperability initiatives were initiated and have been being carried forward by vendors, not by end users—until now. I say that because although Microsoft and Cisco both have security products, the support we’re seeing is coming from their security operations functions. This constitutes a high level of end user support by leading practitioner organizations.
I’m not in favor of trashing that support. Whatever you think of Cisco and Microsoft as product companies, they both have first class physical security operations and are leaders in that regard in many ways. Their security folks are end users and I imagine that for many years they have had the same frustrations as most end users have, only on a much larger scale due to the sizes of their security operations and their technology deployments. Good for them for getting involved.
So I’m reserving my comments about the ASIS 2013 Showcase event until after the event itself. You can discourage attendance if you want to, but I don’t see how that would really benefit anyone.