Subscriber Discussion

Why Is It So Hard To Get Integration Help From Manufacturers?!

In a few instances we've inquired with some manufacturers about custom product integrations; trying to talk to the right people about getting one done. VMS and ACS. We've even offered to pay the cost for the integrations. Representatives we've talked to seemed interested, but when it comes to followup... DEAFINING SILIENCE! I mean, really, they won't even come back and say, "nope, we're not interested". I can't believe getting something done can be so hard.

Manufacturers, what do you feel about custom integrations, mainly for products that aren't already integrated; like cameras to VMS systems or between VMS and Access Control Systems? Do you even offer custom integration services? Do you just say, "Here's the API, go find our own coder to get it done? We're not interested even if you're willing to pay for it"

Do no manufacturers see a benefit to having a new product integrated with their system, thus opening up the possibility of broading their appeal to customers?

This is one of the reasons I liked Genetec as an integrator. They never really said no to a custom integration, they gave me a price and a timeline. Honeywell is actually surprisingly open about this, as well, though only to ProWatch dealers. Others I talked to were useless.

Ethan (and Undisclosed),

I was a member of the Honeywell ProWatch group from its inception until 2007. During that time, we did many custom integrations. (I remember once even spending weeks on-site coding an interface to a one-of-a-kind analog CCTV switch.)

A group's propensity to do custom work is related to its ability to sell the customization again as a new feature of the standard product, and a talented staff with low turnover (most important), as the custom work needs to be supported for years. Often times, the custom integration work is to old equipment that a customer does not want to replace, ever. You might sell the integration to only a few customers, but they may generate support calls well into the future. The development group's turnover must be low enough to have the ability to support custom features used only by a few customers.

I suspect because it's custom, one off work, which is a less strategically attractive than developing new general features. Plus, it's risky as it depends on a third party who may or may be willing to help, may or may not have an API that's well documented or designed.

I am not surprised by your experience.

Some companies are more proactive at offering integrations, even if they come through a third party. Gallagher Security is an example of one does a good job with this. As Ethan mentioned, Genetec has a small department dedicated for this, and for a fee they can crank out an integration. Smaller companies often just don't have the staff or expertise to do it. The hard part is getting the two companies to play nice and share information in order to make an integration work, especially if they compete in the same market.

Barring few good ones, most Camera manufacturers do not have the skills to develop the right APIs. The programming skills in R&D teams in camera manufacturer companies, are around C++, while as APIs may need DotNet or other language skills, which these companies do not have. Hence the silence from them. Integration, is hence, one of the things manufacturer always have wanted, but few can figure out how to write correct APIs for it.

If a VMS has an integration for camera brands A and B, why would it be such an issue to do one for brand C? True there may be added support costs for the brand, if they themselves take owerneship of the rights to the integration to resell it. But we can never even seem to be able to get the parties to both sides together to even discuss the viability. I guess you can argue there are pitfalls to any integration, but them why would any VMS then integrate with any camera, or any ACS integrate with any VMS. Still doesn't make much sense to me when again, we are offering to pay for it.

I'd be willing to say maybe some companies don't want to admit they don't do their own coding and they outsource it all, but some of the ones we've asked into are pretty large companies.

I think it's the opportunity cost. Unless they have a dedicated professional services team whose mission is to do such projects, it steals development resources away from features that have broader applicability.

For example, if an integrator wanted to pay IPVM to do a private shootout for them, I would still find that much less attractive than doing a shootout for general release, because the later is an asset for my core business while the former is a one off.

I also think John L's point factors in here, about the burden of supporting it in the future. Are you willing to pay for that as well? i.e., 18 months from now when that 3rd party manufacturer breaks the API and someone needs to upgrade the integration.

Wouldn't we have too, unless the manufacturer sees that the integration leads to increased oppurtunities for sales and decides to share the burden or buy the rights to the code....?

I don't dispute the comments about the possible difficulty or concerns. I just wish if a manufacturer were not interested, just say so. Don't tell me "we'll look at it", or "that may be possible", and then I hear nothing back or get a response.

Undisclosed Integrator,

Good discussion point. A few years ago we wanted to integrate our ACS with video. Now all ACS's claim to do video integration. However they all do it in a limited fashion.

We were pursuing our next generation DVR/HVR/NVR and wanted to integrate our existing and still deplaoying ACS. The manufacture did not integrate with our selected next generation DVR manufacture. So we inquired with both manufactures. Here is the response.

DVR manufacture: Yes we would love to. Can I facilitate the discussion. Open the door for them.

ACS manufacture: Ton of questions: 1. How much more ACS will we deploy? 2. How many DVR's will we deploy? 3. Did I know about their existing integrations? 4. Did I know about their own VMS and recording appliance? Followed up by no there were not interested.

That was about three years ago. Recently I reached out to the ACS again and got a totally different response. The response this time around was yes we are interested, can you provide us with some points of contact. We would need to know who to talk to and begin the process. They also gave me a POC on their end to forward to the VMS manufacture. However they have also remided me about their existing integrations and own product again.

My point being their response changed over time. To me this was a good change and response the second time around.

My experience has been that it is usually a manufacturer devloptment resource allocation issue which is revenue driven. If you ask for an integration to be done because you THINK you will sell a lot of the integrated system once it is completed then you will never emerge from the bottom of the request list. If you have a project in hand and you can insure sales of X number of units with the completion of an integration then you go to the top.

I would argue the opposite. Take a major company like Schneider Electric, lets say they win a large facility, win the power side, the IT side, the HVAC and Controls... Competition is very small for these channels vs Security. Because they won the HVAC, chances are Continuum will follow, then Pelco. Video is last for a reason... In the big picture, its the least important.

I suppose your line of thinking is "As a integrator, I want to be able to offer the best in class solution to my end user, and that requres the manufacturer to write integration"

My line of thinking is "As a manufacturer, I want to sell the total solution, not bits and pieces. If I write integration, all I am doing is opening up a door for someone else to steal part of my job"

My line of thinking is "As a manufacturer, I want to sell the total solution, not bits and pieces. If I write integration, all I am doing is opening up a door for someone else to steal part of my job"

Take note, everyone - this is a very common sentiment among manufacturers.

OP- Well the manufcaturers I'm talking too are not competitors, per se. The VMS company does not do ACS. The ACS company does not make cameras. The camera company has their basic VMS, but their VMS is not their product leader.