The security week that was: 11/07/08

Brothers in technology?

Sanyo and Panasonic are talking about a buyout deal. That’s the rumor this morning from an Associated Press report by Yuri Kageyama.

Although Panasonic’s media relations team from their security unit said the rumors have not been confirmed yet, it does look like there is a wind of change blowing this autumn which could potentially mean a merger of two of the world’s largest consumer and professional electronics companies. According to the AP article, Panasonic is described as "cash-rich" and is potentially in a position to buy out its rival Sanyo. The potential takeover also comes as both firms suffer from a softened global economy.

Both companies, of course, are staples of the electronic security industry. The two firms each have security business units which deliver video surveillance camera and recording solutions, in addition to other specialized products used by law enforcement and security.

But even though security is our microcosm, I seriously doubt much of this deal hinges on the security units. Both companies are much more diversified, with heavy focuses on consumer electronics (TVs, digital cameras, etc.), and Sanyo has even expanded into the market space of solar power.

Of curious note: Both firms have a family connection that dates back to the early part of the 20th century; the founder of Sanyo was brother-in-law to the founder of Panasonic.

The cloud of security technology
Thoughts on cloud computing and cloud storage effects on our industry

I was on the phone this morning with Craig Waltzer, who is CEO of Aventura Holdings/Video Stream Inc. (a different company than Aventura Technologies). The firm is looking at a trend of firms storing surveillance video off-site, and the company has unveiled products to allow for this transfer and storage. The firm is also making a stock offering to support its growth in this area.

If you are not convinced a market exists for remote recording, then consider this: Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service) has made a name for itself by offering automated remote back-up at $.15 per GB of data. And Amazon has done quite well in this business.

The term for this in the IT world is called cloud storage, or sometimes "storage as a service". Rather than locating storage locally, it takes advantage of collocation of data to simplify management tasks. Furthermore, cloud computing is the next step to cloud storage; in this model (something Google and Microsoft are pushing heavily these days), not only can the data be stored remotely, but the processing can be done “in the cloud” as well.

So imagine this: Your surveillance system hardware and software essentially would capture the images and facilitate their transfer over the network to your contracted storage provider, freeing you from having to manage DVRs, NVRs, SANs, etc. Then, you would essentially run your video management system through a web-browser (this is Google's model of the future, hence the recent introduction of its Chrome web browser). You'd be able to do everything from review video, watch real-time, apply analytics, create evidence clips, etc. You'd free yourself from managing one half of your surveillance system, since your on-site equipment would only be the end-points (the cameras). Presumably, your storage provider would be managing all of that, making encrypted, redundant copies of video, and you'd just pay a monthly fee and wash your hands of that part of technology administration.

Companies like Google and Microsoft make this work with business software because they’re dealing with fairly "light" files like word processing documents, calendars, address books, email and spreadsheets. Video, admittedly, is much more intensive on a system and requires a great deal more processing and network bandwidth than a 34 kilobyte MS Word file. Right now, we seem to have companies able to deliver cloud storage for surveillance video. Give the engineers time, and I think you'll see video management also positioned as a cloud computing offering.

If you'll excuse a bad joke, let me close by saying that "The vision of the future is cloudy."

In other news
Pelco and Barco integrate, Brink's makes the split final, more

Pelco and Barco are partnering via an API to allow their video systems to integrate. ... Brink’s Home Security appeared this week on the stock exchange as an independent firm. Now investors can choose the Brink’s with home security sales or the Brink’s with armored trucks and cash handling services. ... Security products distribution firm ScanSource Security announced executive promotions. ... SAI and Marlin Central Monitoring veteran Barry Brannon discusses the PERS market (personal emergency response system) that he's now involved in via the firm Liberty Medical Response.

Finally, we take a look at the most read stories of this week (even though all of you readers were probably paying closer attention to the U.S. presidential vote than security, and who can blame you?):