Breaking Standards is Good

Author: John Honovich, Published on Apr 26, 2008

Attacking proprietary systems is en vogue but it's only breaking from standards where innovation occurs. The irony is IT players entering physical security have most seriously broken standards and their breaking of standards is driving the innovation in our market.

Take Dilip Sarangan, a very bright analyst from Frost. In his recent article (http://www.frost.com/prod/servlet/market-insight-top.pag?docid=124399129), Dilip argues that:

"The lack of standards has hurt visionary vendors/service providers and end-users alike."

and that:

"The physical security industry has survived for the past 5 decades (since the introduction of video surveillance cameras) without standards."

1. The physical security industry had NTSC/PAL, a critical standard that provided stability and growth for the last 50 years. Of course, it's not a IT standard but it is absolutely a standard and a critical factor in the growth of the market. NTSC/PAL ensured that any camera could work with any VCR or DVR. It was only when the IT players entered that legions of proprietary codecs and formats were unleased on the market to support their IP cameras. As I will continue to argue, I think this is a good thing but we too often blame the physical security people for lack of standards.

2. The standards that Dilip and other analysts talk about where not even relevant until the last 5 - 10 years. Analysts are focused on system interoperability standards, such as APIs and SDKs, to make system integration simple and inexpensive. 10 years ago, very few physical security systems were on-line. The lack of interoperability standards is a function of the youth of these technologies. In young markets, whether it physical security today or routing in the early 90s, proprietary solutions dominate.

Proprietary solutions dominate because the total benefits of proprietary systems maximize most customer's value. Alternatively put, vendors pursue proprietary solutions and succeed with them because, at that stage, customers value the benefits of the closed elements more than they lose from the lack of standards.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

This is a widely accepted tenet in strategic marketing, most famously argued by Clayton Christensen in the Innovator's Dilemma and Innovator's Solution. You can also listen to a wonderful lecture he provided at an open source conference: (http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail135.html).

The problem with standards is that they restrict choice. Take IP cameras. If IP cameras agreed on standards 5 years ago, we would be locked into 10 years old technology (standards are generally adopted based on technologies in use for sometime).

Every year, IP camera companies introduce new codecs and formats. Even when they use standards like H.264 and MPEG-4, they routinely make proprietary adaptations. Why? Because the reduction in bandwidth consumption and storage provide more value than maximizing plug and play between systems. It is the right choice for most customers even though it is certainly not open.

The problems Dilip mentions in system integration are very real and are significant. In general though, they are less significant than the benefits we are gaining from innovative vendors breaking from standards to deliver novel solutions.

In the time frame that Dilip is examining, 2020, I agree with him the standards will emerge and become dominant. However, it's not because standards are good. It's because by that time, the technology in physical security will become good enough that the advantages in interoperability will be greater than the benefits that can be generated from delivering new innovations.

So I say to the visionary vendors: Keep on breaking standards, push the envelope and show us how many more problems you can solve. When you stop solving new problems, the market will adjust and force you into conforming to standards.

Related Reports on Standards

Deceptive ASIS Attendance on Oct 06, 2017
ASIS is being deceptive with its conference reporting, effectively inflating the event's real actual attendance. What they try, but struggle to...
IR Surveillance Guide on Jul 31, 2017
Infrared (IR) has become an increasing core component to video surveillance systems. In particular, the expansion of integrated IR cameras that...
Access Control AHJ Nightmares on Jun 01, 2017
For access control jobs, a single person can be the difference between finishing a job, costing thousands in extra dollars, and being profitable...
Technician Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guide on May 12, 2017
Technicians encounter multiple hazards when running wires and installing security devices. Wearing personal protective equipment, or PPE, helps...
ONVIF Favorability Results on Jan 11, 2017
ONVIF has been one of the most debated aspects of the video surveillance industry. On the one hand, its aim to increase interoperability has been...
Introduction To Burglar Alarm Systems on Jan 04, 2017
While alarm systems are popular, balancing between the right level of protection, the appropriate components and an acceptable price can be very...
ONVIF Tutorial 2017 on Dec 19, 2016
ONVIF is well known within the surveillance industry as an interface to connect IP cameras and VMS systems but: Is ONVIF a 'Standard'? Why...
API / SDK Tutorial on Dec 18, 2016
While Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are key to 'open' platforms, they are frequently misunderstood and over-hyped in physical security....
No One Should Ever Use Simplisafe on Dec 12, 2016
Simplisafe, the upstart DIY intrusion alarm system, is increasingly Public Enemy Number One in the alarm business. Recently, Security Sales ran an...
Free Online NFPA, IBC, and ADA Codes and Standards on Nov 29, 2016
Finding applicable codes for security work can be a costly task, with printed books and pdf downloads costing hundreds or thousands. However, a...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Nest Secure Alarm System Tested on Nov 16, 2017
Google's expansion continues, this time into home security with their Nest subsidiary's move into alarm systems. They paid more than a...
Dahua Forbes 'Next Web Crisis' Vulnerability Dispute on Nov 16, 2017
The buffer overflow vulnerability in Dahua products is not in dispute, in fact we covered it when it was first published. What is in dispute is...
Isonas Cofounders Split, Launch Partner/Competitor on Nov 16, 2017
Breaking up is hard to do, especially when door access security is at stake. But that is exactly what has happened at Isonas. Senior employees...
Hikvision China Criticizes The WSJ on Nov 15, 2017
Hikvision, through the Chinese government's authoritative news service, has criticized the WSJ investigation into Hikvision. In this...
PoE UPS Tested (Energy Reconnect) on Nov 15, 2017
In security, backup power is important, but most often requires UPS systems or extra cabling to devices for low voltage power. Now, some have...
Axis Commits To Long-Term Firmware Support on Nov 15, 2017
With the rise of cyber security awareness, and a general increase in hardware reliability, "software warranties" may prove more valuable than...
Hikvision NVR 4.0 Improvements Tested on Nov 14, 2017
Hikvision has released firmware version 4.0 for select NVRs, touting two years of research and development, and claiming "the new generation GUI...
Mobile Credentials (BLE / NFC / Apps) Guide on Nov 14, 2017
One of the biggest trends in access for the last few years has been the marriage of mobile phones and access cards. In this guide,...
Dahua Launches Electric Cars on Nov 13, 2017
Embattled mega video surveillance manufacturer Dahua is now electric car manufacturer Dahua. Let the jokes begin: But is the joke on Dahua's...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact