Subscriber Discussion

Why PSIM Continues To Suffer

The PSIM user market and solution providers continue to suffer because because of a lack of vision in the Physical Security industry, as well as in the PSIM companies.

PSIM companies COULD HAVE LED AND DRIVEN the adoption of industry open standards. It is a no-brainer that standard interfaces would reduse PSIM development and integration

costs, as well as ongoing costs for updating the integrated solution sets.

This would have opened the door for wider adoption by reducing the costs of PSIM deployment.


However, I suspect that the PSIM companies feared being undercut if traditional systems could suddely integrate with each other, regardless of brand, right out of the box. Would that would increase the value of existing access control & monitoring products, marginalizing PSIM offerings?

That's what might happen IF the only value of PSIM applications was the ability to integrate sources of alarm and sensor data into a single interface, with response automation capabilities. The same software development libraries used to build PSIMS could be used to implement automation in traditional products, again marginalizing PSIMS.

However, the traditional security companies are so very heavily burdened by their multi-versioned legacy customer base, and so highly challenged to match the video and communications capabilities of consumer technology, I don't believe that the feared scenario would have materialized quickly or effectively enough.


A significant factor -- an self-imposed constraint -- is the project-based development model that PSIM companies have followed. Due to competitive nature of the PSIM sales situation - often involving formalized competitive bidding - PSIM companies have limited their development to what the customer requirements have outlined. To advance their product significantly apart from customer-financed development efforts would have required a heavy investement that became unfeasible once the earlier inflated market projections failed to materialize.


The economic collapse starting in 2007 has caused PSIM companies to struggle as have most other companies. This situation practically guaranteed that no PSIM company would adopt a strongly innovative strategy. The high costs of traditional sales & marketing in a down economy, to fight over the small segment of business available, might have inspired at least one of the companies to choose instead to highly INNOVATE AND LEAD in ways that brought high value to a greater set of customers. In such as case case excited press coverage and high word of mouth would have amplified the sales and marketing efforts as the choice of a leading product would have been a no-brainer. But who would be willing to take such a risk, and who would forgoe short term results for long-term success? It's doubtful that investors would have goen for it, given how elusive hoped-for success has been so far.


There are many good business lessons around COOPETITON, the idea that competitors cooperate to expand the market, and then compete for their piece of the larger pie. Instead, the PSIM pie has been kept small by the refusal to embrace open standards and let the rising tide raise all boats.


As I wrote for IPVM before a year ago, SIM (security information management) or SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) in the IT world is a different animal than SIM or SIEM in the physical security world. The problems and challenges are different. It's not an apples to apples comparison at all.

The increasing rate of information technology advancement and dramatically falling price/capacity/performance ratios have fueled the continuing procurement of advancing computer and network technology. Look at data centers 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and now. What a stream of change and improvement. The volume of IT security information logs continues to rise exponentially, making SIM/SIEM a stronger requirement every day. IT system threats increase in magnitude and evolve continually. And the target landscape continue to grow. Every networked business in the country is under attack and the number and nature of breaches is mind-boggling. The physical threat vectors have been practicaly sleeping by comparision.

Advanced network threats require advanced pattern analysis for identification, making log correlation into a multi-dimensional problem. Comparatively, physical security information logs are remain simple and at a relatively low rate of event. It's just not as big a problem in the IT sector.

I'm not sure that it really helped things to call PSIM a "market" as the new name just added a lot of mental fog to the thinking, when in fact the physical security protection market didn't really change all that much.


Consumer media and busines communication and networking technology advancements -- especialy HDTV and video streaming standards, IT computer and network technology advancements, chip making advancements, and mobile devices are responsible for the technology improvements in the security industry over the past decade or so (think "enterprise level systems", networked video, mobile video, improved radio communications, and so on.) Very little innovation comes from within the physical security industry, as has always been the case.


BACnet is a communications protocol for building automation and control networks, created by the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers -- THE CUSTOMERS! The industry leaders simply wouldn't "lead" on this.

Work on it started in 1987, with heavy push-back by all major industry players. Finally, in 1995, ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135 was published and BACnet was officially born! All major players gave it lip service, but only one immediately embraced it wholeheartedly - Alerton Controls, a relative newcomer founded in 1981. In 1996 Alerton announced a complete BACnet product line for HVAC controls. Today they are an international company with a history of customer-centric innovation. All other companies soon followed with their own implementations of BACnet.

Some of this is conjecture on my part (the fear-based decision factor, which may or may not be a key factor), but most of it comes from a study of trends inside and outside of the physical security industry.

For the reasons enumeratied above I assert that the evaluation of the "PSIM situation" requires a much wider examination of factors than I have ever seen done by any of the big name industry pundits and marketing/consulting groups.

Ray, thanks for the detailed observations!

It's tough to properly describe why PSIM has struggled, mainly because there are so many issues!!

I think the lack of standards has been pretty huge (compared to your example of BACnet). It ties in one of your other points, how project driven the companies have been. I know PSIA has tried to take a stand with 'standards' for PSIM (or at least recorders and access systems), with Vidsys prominently involved, but both of them are so weak, the likelihood this drives real industry adoption is quite low.

Quite frankly, I am not sure how anyone can solve the PSIM problem. It seems that this generation of PSIM will wind up becoming a sales tool for big companies to try to sell more of their own products.

The cost/benefit ratio of PSIM is still disparate. Until it becomes cheap enough and useful enough that Security managers can reduce headcount or directly attribute increased effectiveness by spending $xxxx on PSIM, the market for PSIM will always remain hard sales to make at the high-end of the market.

I think a lot more customers are afraid of being the "one-off" today than they might have been in the past, which seems to be the whole point of a PSIM in a lot of cases. Its very power and expensive "integration" and development (from my understanding of what a PSIM really is), but very hard to repeat, and refer to other customers with the same "solution", because even version to version changes of the systems the PSIM is unifying can mean the world of difference.

Hi Ray, I realise its an old thread, but the same arguments very much ring true today.

Great piece thanks.


...its an old thread...

Here's a newer model:

Why PSIM Will NEVER Be Popular