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

IP Camera Long Distance Ethernet Test on Aug 12, 2016
Many often ask about running Ethernet beyond its standard distance of 100 meters for UTP, especially when cameras are 400', 500' or more...
21 Scenes Lux Readings For Video Surveillance on Aug 11, 2016
IPVM went to numerous locations and measured the lux readings / light levels at each one. Here is an example of the approach we took and output...
ONVIF Tutorial 2016 on May 11, 2016
ONVIF is well known within the surveillance industry as an interface to connect IP cameras and VMS systems but: Is ONVIF a 'Standard'? What's...
Access Control IBC International Rules on Apr 28, 2016
Dealing with fragmented local codes is one of the most frustrating parts of electronic access control design. However, the 'International Code...
IP Camera - Direct Attached vs Jack & Patch on Jan 11, 2016
An ongoing debate rages about how the IP camera cables should be terminated. This argument surrounds two common options: 'Direct Attached',...
Network Cabling for Video Surveillance Guide on Oct 30, 2015
In this 14 page guide, we teach the fundamentals of network cabling for video surveillance networks, how they should be installed, and the...
Contactless Credentials Guide on Sep 10, 2015
Few access topics are as complicated as contactless credentials. Chosing the correct one can be the difference between a secure facility and...
You Cannot Trust the ONVIF Chairman on Jul 17, 2015
A fascinating question: Can you trust salesman? Posed SourceSecurity. Unfortunately and ironically, the ONVIF chairman shows you why should...
Network Cable Testing Guide on Jan 22, 2015
Proper cable installation is key to trouble-free surveillance systems. However, testing is often an afterthought, with problems only discovered...
BICSI For IP Video Surveillance Guide on Jan 19, 2015
Spend enough time around networks and eventually someone will mention BICSI, the oft-referenced but only vaguely known standards body prevalent in...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Dahua USA CEO Tim Wang, Where Is Your Integrity? on Sep 29, 2016
Dahua USA CEO Tim Wang and Dahua Director of Marketing Tim Shen shared their IPVM passwords extensively, resulting in Dahua USA CEO's account...
Allegion NDE Wireless Lock Examined on Sep 29, 2016
While wireless locks are one of the hottest areas of access control, two of its biggest challenges are high cost and limited integration with...
The 'Last Chance to Save' On Hikvision Is Here on Sep 29, 2016
It is over. After at least 8 across the board price cuts in the past 10 months, including an unprecedented back to back 20% off, Hikvision has...
Camera Calculator Class and IPVM Member Orientation October 2016 on Sep 28, 2016
Members, learn how to better design video surveillance systems and get the most out of your IPVM memberships with 2 upcoming live classes. Both...
Axis 4MP Camera Tested (M3046-V) on Sep 28, 2016
Axis has brought 4MP to its camera line in the new M3046-V, the highest resolution model in their revamped M30 series. We bought and tested this...
Hiring Spree At Aimetis 6 Months After Being Acquired on Sep 28, 2016
Aimetis was acquired in April 2016, and is now expanding almost all of their departments, hiring employees from Axis and other industry...
Hikvision Chairman Tours With Chinese Government Boss on Sep 28, 2016
Two China Communist senior officials toured Europe this summer, one was Hikvision's Chairman and the other was his boss, SASAC Director. In this...
Camio Natural Language Processing Tested on Sep 27, 2016
The ex-Googler led team from Camio has advanced its video monitoring offering to include natural language processing. Camio ingests video,...
Access Door Controller Configuration Guide on Sep 27, 2016
Properly configuring access control door controllers is key to a professional system. These devices have fundamental settings that must be...
Hacked Dahua Cameras Drive Massive Cyber Attack on Sep 27, 2016
Cyber attacks are accelerating and IP cameras are behind many of them. Worse, last week, a 'massive' attack was carried out using numerous Dahua...

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