Cisco Virtualizing Video Surveillance

By John Honovich, Published Mar 20, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

Cisco's big surveillance announcement for Spring 2012 is virtualizing VMS software. Last Fall, Cisco announced a strategy shift to focus on large scale surveillance projects. In this note, we examine how virtualizing VMS software fits into this approach, how it compares to virtualized offerings from Intransa and Pivot3 and what this signifies for Cisco's future in the surveillance market.

Overview

Cisco is leveraging and incorporating video surveillance into its Unified Computing System (UCS), a solution that is designed to deliver virtualization across large enterprises. For those unfamiliar with virtualization, here's a short primer on claimed virtualization benefits [link no longer available]. Cisco is their own virtualization platform with proprietary management tools and a line of hardware options including a router blade and rackmount and blade servers.

What Cisco is doing is adding support for its existing VMS software (called VSM) on to its UCS / virtualization platform. It is a network management feature rather than a surveillance application one. Cisco's VMS is already supported on the router blade/UCS Express and is projected to be for the rackmount and blade servers in June 2012.

Here is Cisco's pitch deck for the virtualization announcement that makes their case in more detail.

Impact

Here is how we see this impacting the market:

  • No improvement on surveillance specific features: Virtualization support is Cisco's big surveillance announcement for the Spring, indicating that no improvements have been made to their lackluster overall surveillance offering. Cisco did indicate that new features would be coming in the future.
  • Focusing on Large Scale IT Operations: Leveraging UCS likely supports IT departments that are seeking to standardize on UCS for all of their applications. Now they can add in surveillance to the 'unified' architecture. Additionally, in surveillance, virtualization has little benefits for small deployments anyway.
  • Different Focus Than Pivot3 and Intransa: While all 3 of these companies market the value of virtualization, Pivot3 and Intransa focus more on reducing the cost of surveillance deployments by eliminating the need for VMS servers. By contrast, Cisco's approach is clearly not a low cost play for medium size organizations focused on surveillance only deployments.

While we do not see this having any impact on 99% of projects (say, sub 1000 cameras), this move shows that Cisco is committed to leveraging strengths across its portfolio to increase the appeal of its weak surveillance application into large organizations that value Cisco's ability to deliver complex scalable networks.

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