Cisco Admits Failure, Partners with Pelco (v2)

By: John Honovich, Published on Sep 20, 2009

Less than 3 years ago, Cisco threatened the physical security industry with disruption and innovation. Spending more than $100 Million USD, Cisco bought companies manufacturing video management systems and encoders as well as developing their own IP/HD camera line. Pundits predicted Cisco would crush the dumb security dinosarours.

Today, Cisco announces a partnership [link no longer available] with incumbent CCTV leader Pelco. The Press Release frames it as a "co-branding" of Pelco's Sarix cameras with future potential for incorporating Cisco's "networking functionality" which seems to be basically an OEM of Pelco's Sarix line. This follows Cisco's partnership with behemoth security integrator/installer ADT earlier this year.

Here's the video of the announcement at ASIS:

Of course, Cisco did not admit failure - this is only my interpretation. Giant conglomerates do not admit failure but when you start off with plans to dominate an 'antiquated' industry and then a few years later decide to partner with the leaders of that industry, well then, you failed.

Earlier this year, we examined Cisco's struggles. Since then, Cisco has undergone an internal reorganization plus the CEO of 1 of their 2 video surveillance acquisitions, Pete Jankowski [link no longer available], left Cisco and has started a new video surveillance company.

While Pelco's partnering is a part of a coherent long term strategy of broad base partnering, Cisco's recent tactics are harder to understand. They obviously have a lot of money but they still seem to be trying to figure out how to be successful in video surveillance.

Update #1: IT analyst claims Cisco may buy Pelco (premium)

Update #2: Official response from Cisco below in the comments

This is further proof of Cisco's struggles - both on a technical and marketing level. If Cisco had the product or the sales strength to grow quickly in video surveillance, there's no way they would have resorted to co-branding with a legacy incumbent. Indeed, when they first entered the market, they obviously rejected this approach pushing ahead with their own VMS and cameras.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

3 months ago, I conducted a partial test of the Cisco 4300 which revealed 2 problems that put the test of an indefinite hold:

  • The camera had significant problems dealing with anything but perfect bandwidth availability. Rather than dynamically adjusting the quality or frame of the stream (like every major IP camera manufacture), Cisco's camera would immediately display green film overlay rendering the image unusable. This was confirmed as a design issue with Cisco's camera.
  • Secondly, the camera was only supported by Cisco's VMS. We discussed setting up Cisco's VMS but I abandoned that when I learned that Cisco's VMS only runs on one distribution of Linux (SUSE). This is certainly in stark comparison to mainstream VMSes that almost all run on Windows. Even the ones that run on Linux generally are supported on a variety of distributions.

These types of problems were part of fundamental issues Cisco faced. While adopting Sarix's cameras should help rectify these issues, it does so at a significant cost in Cisco's overall competitiveness and value proposition. Secondly, the Sarix line is fairly limited, only consisting of a fixed and dome series up to 3 MP. Pelco's IP camera portfolio is still far behind Axis.

Such a partnership also implies that Cisco is unwilling to acquire an IP camera provider, which would be a much cleaner and stronger way to compete directly in the market. If Cisco truly wants to win in video surveillance, they need to buy an IP camera manufacturer.

Additionally, Cisco continues to have challenges with their VMS product which has difficulty competing with the breadth of features offered by direct competitors like Milestone and Genetec (who of course keep on releasing new advances - e.g., ASIS announcements of SecurityCenter by Genetec and release 7.0 by Milestone). 

Meaning for IT/Security Convergence

Since Cisco is the standard bearer for IT convergence, such actions speak negatively to the force of IT convergence. However, this is likely more of a result of Cisco's approach rather than the failings of IT convergence.

It now should be clear that pushing inferior products at higher prices does not work even if you 'own' the IT department. By contrast, companies like Milestone and Genetec, with much more mature products and sensible approaches to the market, continue to grow.

Impact on Pelco

For Pelco, this is likely to have some upside and little downside. First, Pelco essentially gains an OEM re-seller who should be able to sell cameras into a channel where they do not traditionally focus. Secondly, it provides some validation to IT organizations for Pelco sales in general. If Cisco can eventually add some additional network functionality, that may be a bonus. However, it's unlikely that Cisco can add dramatically better networking capabilities. The most realistic option is that Cisco incorporates their MediaNet protocol into Sarix cameras. This would help drive Cisco-centric solutions.

Impact on Axis

Axis is the big winner here. First, many saw Cisco as this powerful threat to Axis. Clearly this confirms they have not been. Plus, it is going to take a year or so for the Cisco/Pelco partnership to ramp up. In the meantime, Axis has a big head start and continues to release more IP cameras and innovative offerings, increasing the gap with Cisco/Pelco. Furthermore, "strategic technology "partnerships that require co-development of products between two huge companies face major organizational risks.

Cisco/Pelco needs to win the high end/premium market/sophisticated buyer segment of the market. Even with them coming together, unless and until they develop substantially more and better products, they remain at a clear technical disadvantage to Axis.

Impact on Genetec / Milestone/ Large Scale VMS

Genetec and Milestone also benefit these actions. Cisco is struggling just as much with their VMS system as their cameras. With Cisco distracted with this partnership, it is hard to see how they are going to advance their VMS system. Perhaps Cisco will eventually complete a similar agreement with one of the mainstream VMS companies. However, this essentially reduces Cisco to a very large systems integrator, adding questionable value beyond brand.

 

When Cisco pulled out of ISC West, Steve Hunt hoped [link no longer available] that "Cisco is buckling down and coming up with some excellent innovations for us and will unveil them later this year." It's painfully obvious this has not happened.

Good news for everyone else in the industry - bad news for Cisco.

6 reports cite this report:

Cisco Surveillance Strategy Shift on Sep 19, 2011
Where is Cisco going in the physical security market? In this note, we provide answers both to their overall strategy and to their specific...
Cisco MediaNet for IP Video Surveillance Examined on Nov 14, 2010
Now more than 4 years from Cisco's first foray into the video surveillance market, the industry waits for Cisco's big move or key advantage to be...
Surveillance Manufacturer Trends 2010 on Oct 24, 2010
Trends and strategies in the video surveillance market are shifting. In this report, we examine the top trends and the most interesting moves by...
Sales Progress Report on Dec 01, 2009
In an interview with Security Sales and Integration, Cisco commented on sales progress in physical security [link no longer available] and the...
What Video Surveillance Company Should Cisco Buy? on Oct 14, 2009
Buying companies is at the core of Cisco's growth strategy. While Cisco has made two video surveillance purchases a few years ago, both were small...
New Producs Directory ASIS 2009 Finalized on Sep 24, 2009
This report examines 37 new products announced for ASIS 2009. It includes links to the individual product's webpages as well as our product...

Related Reports

Axis HD Analog Encoder Tested on Oct 11, 2019
Two years after declaring "Everything is IP", Axis has released their first HD analog encoder, the P7304, with support for AHD, CVI, TVI, and SD...
Network Optix NxWitness 4.0 Tested on Oct 10, 2019
Network Optix released Nx Witness 4.0, proclaiming new features like a deep learning analytics metadata SDK, increased H.265 support, and UX...
Crisis At China's Largest VMS Provider, Netposa, Now State-Controlled on Oct 07, 2019
NetPosa, which bills itself as the PRC's largest VMS provider, is in a crisis. The firm is pursuing huge unpaid bills from clients, and its...
Vivotek 4K S-Series Camera Tested on Sep 30, 2019
Vivotek's highest-end S-series camera claims "Supreme Night Visibility", "Smart IR II", "Smart Stream II", "WDR Pro for unparalleled visibility in...
RealNetworks SAFR Facial Recognition Profile on Sep 25, 2019
RealNetworks entered the surveillance market by giving away their analytics to schools for free, and is now targeting large commercial users with...
Hikvision Acusense Analytics Tested on Sep 23, 2019
Hikvision touts "The Magic Behind It All" in their new Acusense line are 'deep learning algorithms' inside these cameras and recorders. But how...
Axis Perimeter Defender Improves, Yet Worse Than Dahua and Wyze on Sep 19, 2019
While Axis Perimeter Defender analytics improved from our 2018 testing, the market has improved much faster, with much less expensive offerings...
Directory of 70 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Vivotek "Neural Network-Powered Detection Engine" Analytics Tested on Sep 17, 2019
Vivotek has released "a neural network-powered detection engine", named Smart Motion Detection, claiming that "swaying vegetation, vehicles passing...
Manufacturers Unhappy With Weak ASIS GSX 2019 And 2020 Shift on Sep 16, 2019
Manufacturers were generally unhappy with ASIS GSX, both for weak 2019 booth traffic and a scheduling shift for the 2020 show, according to a new...

Most Recent Industry Reports

US DoD Comments on Huawei, Hikvision, Dahua Cyber Security Concerns on Oct 16, 2019
A senior DoD official said the US is "concerned" with the cybersecurity of Hikvision, Dahua, and Huawei due to "CCP" (China Communist Party)...
Pelco Sarix Pro3 Camera Tested on Oct 16, 2019
Pelco has released their Sarix Professional Series 3 cameras, claiming "more security detail in challenging scenes with excellent low light and...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Oct 16, 2019
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator. The guide below includes instructions, images, gifs, and videos demonstrating and explaining the...
Altronix Claims Tango 'Eliminates Electricians' on Oct 15, 2019
Power supply provider Altronix claims its new Tango power supply 'eliminates the need for an electrician, dedicated conduit and wire runs'. In...
Pelco CEO Out, Seeking New Industry CEO, New CEO Found on Oct 15, 2019
Just 2 months after Pelco was sold, Pelco's CEO is out, with Pelco bringing in an outside President and searching for a new CEO from the industry,...
Hikvision Dissolves North American Business Unit, Splits Canada and USA on Oct 15, 2019
Hikvision has dissolved its North American Business Unit, splitting up US and Canada operations as the PRC-government owned manufacturer faces...
Camera Focusing Tutorial on Oct 14, 2019
Camera focus is fundamental to quality imaging. Mistakes can significantly reduce details, making cameras less effective. In this guide, we...
"UL Has Blood On Their Hands" Alleges The Interceptor / Keith Jentoft on Oct 14, 2019
"UL has blood on their hands" alleges Keith Jentoft of "The Interceptor Project". We examined The Interceptor in-depth last year, see: The...
Access Control Course Fall 2019 - Last Chance on Oct 14, 2019
Register Now - Fall 2019 Access Control Course. Thursday, October 17th is the last day to register. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access...
Axis HD Analog Encoder Tested on Oct 11, 2019
Two years after declaring "Everything is IP", Axis has released their first HD analog encoder, the P7304, with support for AHD, CVI, TVI, and SD...