By Natalia Kosk
Be sure to prioritize your schedule on your mobile device with the ESX My Show Planner because you'll need it to take advantage and keep track of all the goodies at the 2011 Electronic Security Expo (ESX) in Charlotte, N.C., the official show of the Electronic Security Association (ESA).
On the show agenda is a jam-packed list of "firsts" including a new stage for training held in booth 039 by such technology providers as DVTel, Magnasphere and Sunwize, 50 newly added educational seminars, additional floor space to accommodate 25 new exhibitors and a ESXperience Stage on the show floor. Yet, even more important is the root of this year's fourth annual show, recurring monthly revenue (RMR). And the importance of that message has been resoundingly clear to the many systems integrators, monitoring companies and other security professionals on the receiving end of the ESX newsletter e-blasts telling us to "Rev up for Maximum Results."
Residential on the upswing
Set for June 6 through 10 at the Charlotte Convention Center, "ESX 2011 is focusing hard on what we see as a once-in-a-generation reset on residential controls," said Nancy Franco, vice president of Operations, AE Ventures, Mansfield, Mass., the show's producers. "Changes in technology, end-user demand and big plays by ADT and Vivint with residential integrated systems have the security industry re-evaluating what technologies and services they need to bring home to be successful."
Hosted by CPI Security Systems and Alarm South, sister company to Security Central, the event brings the opportunity to continue the discussion on all things RMR, with a special highlight on different types of recurring that dealers can add to their businesses, including mobile apps, video and access, home automation, alternative transmission technologies and fire alarm systems.
"ESX is honored to have companies like ASG, Vector, Guardian, ADS Alarm, CPI and Alarm South as its past and present All-Star Hosts," said Franco. "These companies see the value that ESX provides to electronic security integration and monitoring companies." ESX consults with these hosts on conference development, special programming and ties to the local community.
On the residential agenda
An event that tackles the topic of home automation is the ESA Industry Luncheon and Annual Meeting, June 9th from 12 to 1:45 p.m. This is the first time ESA has featured special industry content and a luncheon as part of its annual meeting. This event presents new research and will cover consumer interest in integrated systems, products and service offerings; consumer receptivity to traditional security companies as providers of such systems; consumer receptivity to phone and cable companies offering security and integrated systems; and ESA member company involvement and plans in the integrated systems space.
In every industry there are the trend-setters," said Merlin Guilbeau, executive director of ESA, Dallas. "What is most important for the rest of the people in this industry is to be able to come to an event like ESX, analyze what the trend-setters are doing and then make an intelligent decision as to whether or not it is something that they should try to incorporate into their business."
Don Childers SET, CCI, director of Technical Training for Alarm South, Statesville, N.C., added that the most important thing attendees not yet using home automation and residential interactive solutions to generate RMR can benefit from at the show is meeting the people who are already doing this. "The technology is great but if you don't have anyone on your team who understands the technology to install it, your company is not going to be around for very long these days," said Childers. "My advice is, find a manufacturer, stick with them, have their people come in and train you on the products so you can than migrate those products out to your customer base."
Jessica Wardlaw, corporate administrator of CPI Security Systems, Charlotte, N.C., agreed that while keeping up with technology is a challenge with the rapid onslaught of new solutions and product features, "integrators not ready for this shift should take the time to study the market and available platforms to ensure that they're making product selections that fit their culture, sales process and ability to support."
"Cost is always key when it comes to new technology sales opportunities because it controls the ability for dealers and integrators to bring solutions to market effectively and profitably," she continued. "The best scenario is to sell technology that creates efficiency in the sales and support processes to reduce and/or limit the amount business risk assessed in projecting volume and price."
For more on the residential and interactive front, check out these three new sessions:
Mobile App Business Models
June 7: 3:15 to 4:15 p.m.
This session will look at how integrators are making more money and more RMR on new mobile applications that provide access to security information and system control. Attendees will learn the packaging and models used by some of the most successful early adopters, looking at offers for both the residential and commercial markets coming from players large and small.
Understanding New Residential Integrated Systems Platforms
June 8: 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.
ESX Chair George De Marco will moderate this session which will feature the chief executive officers of major technology platform providers iControl and Alarm.com and senior representatives of manufacturers 2Gig Technologies and Honeywell. The panelists will provide a look at their technology road maps. The information is designed to help integrators figure out their next step in the residential market. De Marco will also recap this session in a much shorter format at the ESXperience Stage on the show floor the afternoon of June 8 at 3:30 p.m.
The Managed Services Service Dept.
June 9: 2 to 3 p.m.
Managed services is a concept that is taking off, especially for IP-based video and access control. In this session, speakers develop the concept of what a service department tasked with tending managed services for clients could and should be and will address the questions you need to ask. What technical skills and knowledge are required? How does the service team administer good customer service in this area? How does the managed services team interface and integrate with the traditional service department team? What are the outputs of a managed services team and how do you measure the productivity of technicians charged with these activities?
Make sure your experience in Charlotte is worthwhile off the show floor as well. Turn to page 69 for a list of fun activities you can partake in!
The ESXperience Stage, located between booths 401 and 501, will feature presentations by leaders of the ESA and the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and other industry leaders. Some of the topics include:
ü Coping with Chaos: Telecommunications Network Update
ü Residential Integrated Systems Technology Platforms Snapshot
ü Certifications & Training: What You Need & How To Get It
ü State of the Union with Law Enforcement & Fire Officials
ü Mobile App Business Models
ü The ESA Chapter Challenge
News item to go on page 14—please wrap the photo of Lee Caswell small in the text, about the second or third graph.
Title: Storage Gets Virtualized Beyond Security
Deck: Pivot3 discusses recent success and the future of storage
By Natalia Kosk
Following on the heels of its recent Wall Street Journal's second annual "Next Big Thing" ranking that lists the 50 most promising venture-backed capital companies, Lee Caswell, founder and chief marketing officer of video storage solutions provider Pivot3, Palo Alto, Calif., sat down with Security Dealer & Integrator to discuss the company's growth, overall storage statistics and trends, future models and how applications are expanding beyond the security industry.
"The bar for selling storage is very high because it's hard to sell something that is partly done," explained Caswell. "More and more data is being stored everywhere and worldwide capacity growth is over 30 percent right now. What is driving that and a lot of the new architecture is not the traditional database applications that a user has but instead it is about rich-media applications. Video surveillance is a really interesting proof-point of that because it has very high performance characteristics but it's very cost-sensitive," he continued.
Pivot3 ranked 37th out of 5,740 companies considered in the WSJ's Next Big Thing list. To date, the company raised 78 million dollars. To be eligible for the ranking, a company must have raised an equity round of financing in the last three years and have a valuation of $1 billion or less. In addition to this requirement, Caswell confirmed that the ranking is also based on the quality of investors. He credited his company's success to their ability to surpass a number of risks, including management risk, technical risk and financial market risk, in addition to leveraging an open system model.
"It's about the skill-set of your investors and how they can help you in the market at large," said Caswell. "Our investors are easily able to either provide introductions to potential partners or customers for us to work with." Caswell explained that the venture capital process is designed to strip those risks out. "If you get past the hurdles of management and technical risk, the final stage is looking at how to scale your technology from there, once it's validated in the market. And I believe that is the aspect the Wall Street Journal focuses on—taking the technology and what we have done in the surveillance market and providing this at a high scale in an incredibly diverse mix of hardware and software partners," Caswell continued.
The virtual server environment
From its initial focus on the casino and gaming segment of the market, Pivot3, founded in 2003, now continues to scale its solutions to more conservative markets such as government and enterprise. The company's video surveillance storage solutions were recently added to the security product portfolio of Siemens Security Solutions, a U.S.-based business unit of Siemens Industry Inc.'s Building Technologies Division. The move demonstrates the importance of storage as a strategic element of major security installations.
"This industry is characterized by word of mouth," said Caswell. "People talk to each other to find out not just what is a good product but what companies are willing to invest in to make installations successful." One of the other areas that the company is addressing, through its vBank Appliance, is the convergence of IT and surveillance. "With the vBank, we are increasing the number of virtual servers that can run on each appliance tenfold and we are adding support for VMWare," Caswell explained. "This speeds up the convergence for security surveillance users."
The vBank adds computing resources to support more virtual servers, solid state disk drives to extend storage performance across general business applications and bundles VMware vSphere, VMware vMotion and VMware vCenter™ server technologies to simplify management. Individual vBank appliances can be stacked in a Pivot3 storage and compute STAC (i.e., a set of appliances) to create, protect and load-balance storage across vBank appliances. The product development stemmed from market need to have a converged infrastructure that can support both surveillance and general IT applications. Retail is one area in which the responsibility in maintaining and implementing the IT infrastructure and the surveillance infrastructure has merged, said Caswell. "The interest that we have seen so far in the IT space comes from the server buyers and not from the storage buyers," he continued. "This concept of rejoining servers and storage could be a lead indicator as to the architecture of how systems will be developed in the future."
Caswell confirmed that Pivot3 will continue to upsize server aspects of their solutions. "We think that is going to appeal to customers who were server buyers but who may not have a server or SAN administrator but still need to scale out their storage and are looking for ways to do that."
Pivot3's Lee Caswell