Cisco Reboots Video Surveillance

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 23, 2012

Cisco has unquestionably become the best company in video surveillance ... for people to laugh at. What started out in 2006 with great hopes for industry domination by the company and even its security rivals has never come close to fruition.

Now, Cisco is making its strongest and, in our view, best decisions to reboot their approach to video surveillance and provide a real competitive foundation. In this report, we examine what went wrong and how they are substantially improving.

The Glorious Entrance

Cisco swept into the surveillance market in 2006 - 2007, spending ~$100 Million on two acquisitions, Broadware and Sypixx. Excitement and dread built, culminating in an ISC West 2007 keynote address from a Cisco executive, surprising considering Cisco's 0% market in surveillance at that time and for the rose petals that incumbent executives placed at the podium (note: Cisco's marketing share now is ~0.5% and the rose petals are an exaggeration).

Stumbling

It did not take long for Cisco video surveillance to start showing its flaws. Key mistakes included:

  • Buying two companies and trying to munge merge the products together is very hard, especially when they had overlap (e.g., up until last year, Cisco supported two overlapping recorder lines).
  • The Broadware acquisition was a serious mistake, both for its product and retained management. Originally Broadware was video distribution platform designed during the late 90s bubble, later awkwardly repositioned as a VMS.
  • Cisco assumed IT convergence would sweep them to victory even if their products were not competitive for physical security management's needs.

The cracks really started to show in 2009, just two years later, when they ironically could not afford to exhibit at ISC West, a trade magazine editor called them 'The Lindsay Lohan of video surveillance', and their spokesmen admitted that Cisco targets dupes customers who will buy anything from them. In the midst of all this, Cisco as a whole continued to face major problems.

Falling Apart

Then, last year, in 2011, it seemed that Cisco video surveillance was on the verge of death. They discontinued a slew of products, many employees quit or were laid off and finally their long term GM, the former Broadware executive, left. By the end of 2011, their public strategy was essentially a retreat to the super high end of the market with a subset of their long term uncompetitive products.

Fixing Major Mistakes and New Products

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

Now, in 2012, they have a brand new leadership team for the physical security business unit, a brand new VMS codebase and a sensible strategy on how they can optimally integrate the network with surveillance systems.

The most important improvement was for their VMS, where they essentially abandoned the legacy Broadware offering, building a new VMS from the ground up. Cisco reports that ~70 engineers spent 2 years working on this. While they call the release VSM 7.0, implying that it is an upgrade to the earlier 6.0, it is actually a new platform requiring a migration for existing users and implementing new APIs. Whatever minor inconvenience this may cause in the short term, we believe the benefits of replacing a 15+ year old unsuccessful architecture is worth it.

Bucking the common practice of Windows based VMS software running on COTS PCs, the new Cisco VMS will only run on Cisco appliances and will be fully virtualized (see our post on Cisco VSM virtualization). While this increases cost and complexity for small systems, for larger ones that Cisco is targeting this could simplify managing and reduce operational problems.

Additionally, Cisco is maturing their integration of MediaNet into their surveillance offering, which also has the potential to reduce the cost and complexity of setting up and managing surveillance systems. While this requires a high end Cisco infrastructure, it offers an automated network management process nowhere else offered in surveillance.

The most disappointing Cisco release is their new 6000 series camera line, which is barely an improvement over their old line and, save for MediaNet support, is little different from dozens of no-name overseas manufacturer. Cisco indicated more new cameras releases in the near future and they will need it if they really expect to compete as the end to end solution they hope to market.

Going Forward

Despite Cisco's numerous mistakes in the surveillance market, they have always had the resources and skills to dominate. However, they have never had the right mindset, with way too much focus on the network and far little appreciation of domain specific problems. Changing their physec management team and re-doing their VSM are two really important steps in establishing a more solid foundation. They still have a long way to go but they have a far better shot at competing than ever before.


1 report cite this report:

New Cisco Video Surveillance - Still Going Nowhere on Jul 14, 2015
'Everyone' knew Cisco would dominate video surveillance back in 2008. They failed. But, they have not given up.  Recently the company touted a...

Related Reports on VMS

Milestone Ends Development of "Enterprise" VMS on Sep 22, 2016
Milestone 'Enterprise' was one of the first enterprise video management software offerings, selected by many early adopters of IP video. However,...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
Tagged RFID Object Search Recorded Video on Sep 20, 2016
Video analytics has gotten fairly good at tagging people in video, but it does not solve the problem of finding items like specific merchandise or...
Milestone Kills Go, Slashes Express Pricing, Launches Enhanced Version Free on Sep 12, 2016
Milestone is shaking up the industry again with enhanced free software and a major price drop. 6 years ago, Milestone launched their first free...
Axis / Canon Launch 20MP Avigilon Rival on Sep 12, 2016
For years, Avigilon has essentially owned the 'super high resolution' single imager market. And Axis has resisted, most famously in 2012, when...
OpenEye Launches Own Cloud VMS on Sep 07, 2016
OpenEye has been shipping security recording solutions since 2001, yet has remained mostly behind the scenes, OEMing their solution to more...
Pelco Optera 270° Camera Tested on Sep 06, 2016
Multi-imager cameras are typically 180° or 360°. Pelco has released a fixed 270° versions of their Optera intended to cover exterior building...
Lenel Partners Angry, Lenel Does Not Care on Sep 01, 2016
Even more than Arecont, one manufacturer stands out for consistent complaints - Lenel. Over the past few years, no manufacturer has had more...
Panoramic Camera (Fisheye / Multi-Imager) Guide on Aug 31, 2016
Panoramic cameras, including fisheyes and multi-imagers, have become increasingly widespread, with most manufacturers offering fisheyes and an...
ONVIF Profile G Video Storage Test on Aug 26, 2016
A standard to retrieve video stored on 3rd party devices. This is the aim of ONVIF Profile G. The proprietary nature of accessing recorded video...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Nest Cam Outdoor Tested on Sep 23, 2016
After years of claiming an outdoor model was "coming", addressing their biggest user demand, Nest has finally released their Outdoor Camera, an...
ACTi Refuses Race To The Bottom, Shifts To Solutions on Sep 23, 2016
The original low cost IP camera disruptor was ACTi. Back in the 2008 - 2010 time frame, Taiwanese manufacturer ACTi challenged the Western and...
You Get Robbed, Canary Will Pay You Up To $1,000 on Sep 22, 2016
Canary is trying to break the status quo in DIY security, first by raising over $40 million, and now a revamp of their monthly services package...
Milestone Ends Development of "Enterprise" VMS on Sep 22, 2016
Milestone 'Enterprise' was one of the first enterprise video management software offerings, selected by many early adopters of IP video. However,...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
Access Control Course Fall 2016 on Sep 22, 2016
IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry. Unlike manufacturer training that focuses only on a small part of the...
Totally Wireless IP Camera (IPVideo Corp NomadHD) on Sep 21, 2016
Wireless battery powered cameras have been a surveillance pipe dream for years, limited by camera power consumption, battery technology, and...
Axis Launches IP Speakers on Sep 21, 2016
First, Axis introduced an IP horn, then it was video intercoms, and now it is Networked Speakers? While IP-based Public Address systems are not...
Tagged RFID Object Search Recorded Video on Sep 20, 2016
Video analytics has gotten fairly good at tagging people in video, but it does not solve the problem of finding items like specific merchandise or...
FLIR and Geovision Join the Hikvision Price Cut Race on Sep 20, 2016
Hikvision's price cuts are clearly a trend setter. After numerous and increasingly large cuts, the destructive cycle is accelerating. Last month,...

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