Microsoft / IDV PSIM ReviewedBy Brian Rhodes, Published Sep 17, 2012, 08:00pm EDT
Another IT giant is attempting to enter the physical security marketplace, this time with a PSIM. At ASIS 2012, one of the most continuously packed booths was from a surprise new entrant - Microsoft, who for the first time was pitching their own security specific product at the show.
While Microsoft may be a technology giant, they have partnered with an unknown in stepping into new territory. In this note, we examine the core of this new offering, a product from IDV Solutions named Virtual Command Center. We break down the features of this offering, pricing, and analyze where it stacks up versus competitors.
Visual Command Center (VCC) is as a display interface for disparate data. Inbound data can be shared both geographically (spatial) or chronologically (temporal) overlaying each other. For spatial displays, information is shown as layers atop a global map, and temporal displays are shown as events occuring in a timeline.
The developer's promotional video provides basic workflow and interface details:
Visual Display Tool
The information it displays depends on which specific databases and feeds are integrated. The software 'base' version includes these standard feeds:
- Traffic Information and TrafficLand Traffic Cameras
- Current and Predictive Weather Maps
- Networked Camera Live Views
- Local Alarm System Status
- GPS Asset Location
- Global/Local Terrorism Threat Information
- FEMA and Crime Hotspots
IP Cameras are most easily integrated by directly linking to the Live View / Video Server web page. This is useful for 'peeking in' on live-view events, but the basic interface does not link to recoreded video. Any VMS system integration requires custom configuration and is an additional cost.
VCC Integration Methods
The most important element that VCC claims to introduce to PSIM is direct integration to databases, rather than integrating security systems by APIs. VCC claims to integrate data from any major database. VCC uses custom coded connectors built to aggregate data from common data sources, including:
As a result, VCC claims to be 'more than a PSIM' that is able to display data from a variety of systems beyond 'only' security systems. However, VCC also cites this integration is also accomplished through 'traditional' integration means through API. In the marketing video below, IDV explains how it is connected to security platforms like VMS and Door Access Control systems at the ~0:50 mark:
However, IDV has nowhere near the stock of complete, ready to go security integrations that typically PSIMs have. While PSIMs like CNL, Vidsys, Orsus, etc., have dozens of complete security system integrations, IDV has very few.
Partnership with Microsoft
Despite VCC's recent introduction in 2011, it has been included in a Microsoft PSIM named 'Domain Awareness System". In this offering, custom overlays on top of Bing Maps and deep integration with and Microsoft products like SQL, SharePoint, and Silverlight. IDV Solutions not only claims Microsoft as a customer, but markets themselves as a 'Microsoft Gold Partner'.
VCC's pricing structure is uncommon. Rather than an upfront software purchase and customization cost, VCC is sold as a service with a recurring fee of $98,000 USD per year. This fee is subject to additional costs of 'nonstandard' integration customization and additional information feed liscenses, but this fee includes the ongoing liscense costs of the included feeds.
The annual fee includes the cost of initial setup, which sends two IDV engineers onsite for two weeks to install and commission the basic system.
Unlike most PSIMs, IDV is more of a city command platform than security systems manager. While stock integrations such as weather, traffic and terrorism are uncommon in regular PSIMs, this is core to IDV. On the other, third party security system integrations are much easier with regular PSIMs due to the relatively well developed connectors already built.
IDV's pricing structure is more attractive than security PSIMs for most users. The $98,000 annual fee is far lower than the typically up front cost (often $500,000+) of PSIMs and includes ongoing support that would be necessary for any system of this scale or complexity.
Given that VCC has high value strategic partnerships with Microsoft, it could find many customers quickly. However, IT vendors have a poor track record in the physical security space, and even a name as powerful as Microsoft does not assure domination.
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