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

Directory of Video Intercoms on Nov 13, 2018
Video Intercoms, also known as Video Door-Phones or Video Entry Systems, have been growing in the past decade as more and more IP camera...
Contactless Access Credentials Guide on Oct 29, 2018
Contactless credentials are the most common component used in an access control system and while many look alike externally, important differences...
Higher Power PoE 802.3bt Ratified, Impact on Security Products Examined on Oct 12, 2018
Power over Ethernet has become one of the most popular features of many video, access, and other security products. See our PoE for IP Video...
Network Cable Testing Guide on Oct 02, 2018
Proper cable installation is key to trouble-free surveillance systems. However, testing is often an afterthought, with problems only discovered...
Central Stations Face Off Against NFPA On Fire Monitoring on Sep 18, 2018
Central stations are facing off against the NFPA over what they call anti-competitive language in NFPA 72, the standard that covers fire alarms....
IP Camera Cable Termination Guide on Sep 06, 2018
Terminating cables properly is critical to network performance, but it can be a tricky task with multiple steps. Fortunately, this task is easy to...
Backup Power For Maglocks Guide on Aug 20, 2018
When the main power fails, many believe maglocks must leave doors unlocked. However, battery backed up maglocks are allowed according to IBC /...
Improved Security And Surveillance Bidding - 2018 MasterFormat Divisions Examined) on Jul 19, 2018
Navigating the world of system specifications and bidding work can be complex and confusing, but a standard format exists, and understanding it...
Replacing / Switching Access Control Systems Guide on Jun 28, 2018
Ripping out and replacing access control systems is hard for important reasons. Because users typically hold on to access control systems for as...
Free Online NFPA, IBC, and ADA Codes and Standards on Jun 27, 2018
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

Throughtek P2P/Cloud Solution Profile on Nov 15, 2018
Many IoT manufacturers either do not have the capabilities or the interest to develop their own cloud management software for their devices....
ASIS Offering Custom Research For Manufacturers on Nov 15, 2018
Manufacturers often want to know what industry people think about trends and, in particular, the segments and product they offer.  ASIS and its...
ISC East 2018 Mini-Show Report on Nov 15, 2018
ISC East, by its own admission, is not a national or international show, billed as the "Largest Annual Northeast U.S. Security...
Hikvision Silent on "Bad Architectural Practices" Cybersecurity Report on Nov 14, 2018
A 'significant vulnerability was found in Hikvision cameras' by VDOO, a startup cybersecurity specialist. Hikvision has fixed the specific...
French Government Threatens School with $1.7M Fine For “Excessive Video Surveillance” on Nov 14, 2018
The French government has notified a high-profile Paris coding academy that it risks a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (about $1.7m) if it...
Integrator Credit Card Alternative Divvy on Nov 13, 2018
Most security integrators are small businesses but large enough that they have various employees that need to be able to expense various charges as...
Directory of Video Intercoms on Nov 13, 2018
Video Intercoms, also known as Video Door-Phones or Video Entry Systems, have been growing in the past decade as more and more IP camera...
Beware Amazon Go Store Hype (Tested) on Nov 13, 2018
IPVM's trip to and testing of Amazon Go's San Francisco store shows a number of significant operational and economic issues that undermine the...
Magos Radar Company Profile on Nov 12, 2018
Magos America General Manager Yaron Zussman admits when he first came across Magos, he asked himself: "What's innovative about radar?" Be that as...
Genetec Privacy Protector Tested on Nov 12, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Privacy Protector into Security Center, an analytic which anonymizes individuals in cameras' fields of view...

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