Milestone Systems shares info on direction of company

Feb. 18, 2010 -- Milestone Systems is currently holding its MIPS (Milestone Integration Platform Symposium) event in Hollywood, Calif. Earlier in the week, Milestone had hosted technical training and certification classes in Hollywood, but the official MIPS event kicked off on Thursday morning is more designed for manufacturer partners and the business executives from Milestone VARs/integrators.

After being introduced by Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Eric Fullerton, Milestone President and CEO Lars Thinggaard opened the program by providing a financial update on this video management system company. Highlights include the fact that the company saw 20 percent revenue growth in 2009 and "the best December ever." Thinggaard said the financial position of the company was solid: "We have the strongest balance sheets of any company in the VMS industry; and my message for 2010 is full speed ahead."

The company has been full speed ahead lately with driver updates; recent device packs include v4.6 and v4.7 in the last two months, and more device updates planned every other month. Today the company says it supports over 850 distinct IP video devices from some 80 different manufacturers. Fullerton and Thinggaard reiterated the company's support for IP video standards from ONVIF and PSIA. Thinggaard also announced a strong commitment to training; their goal is to train 45,000 people on Milestone solutions in the next 5 years. That's 9,000 persons a year; they currently have a total of about 5,000 persons trained on deploying the Milestone solutions. It's clearly going to be a huge effort, and Thinggaard said it will accompany a move to add 7,000 new certified partner companies over the same time period.

In a session for their partners which was also broadcasted as a webinar, Fullerton introduced the company's new XProtect Corporate v3.1 video management system and v5.0 of the Smart Client (the program that allows a computer user to access the video and functionality in the XProtect VMS. For 3.1, key highlights include support for Windows 7 and MS Server 2008 R2 as well as automatic network scanning and camera detection for set-up. The Smart Client offers simultaneous viewing of recorded video and live video (not available before), full screen mode, and a "sequence explorer" for quickly scanning through archived video. Also new for the Smart Client are overlay buttons for simplified on-screen control of cameras and I/Os, and an adaptable user interface (keep in mind this is not "skinning" of the client GUI; that is not yet available).

Fullerton also outlined a strategy to take the solution from the mid-market (which apparently has been Milestone's specialty) to the largest organizations. That strategy follows through on the 2007 release of XProtect Corporate, which is the company's full-featured VMS designed for the largest clients; XProtect Enterprise is chiefly used for mid-market businesses and organizations.

Later in the day, Christian Bohn of Milestone Systems offered a look at the company's product roadmap. Here's a quick look at what's on the table

  • More device drivers every other month
  • A version of XProtect Corporate that will feature a "federation" architecture to create centralized management and administration of a number of unique installs of XProtect Corporate.
  • More focus on ease of use for end-user (this partially means improvements of GUIs)
  • The development of a formal "MIP" (Milestone Integration Platform) to allow application development and product integration with Milestone's VMS solutions.
  • Video Surveillance as a Service (a.k.a., VSaaS) could be coming (as indicated by Thinggaard), but not in next 6 months
  • Specialty functionality in XProtect to allow the company to target specific vertical markets that have unique VMS needs.

The company also announced plans to support data transfers from SD cards (flash memory cards used in cameras for local, in-camera recording (also known as "edge recording"). That support is expected to be previewed in the company's "Corporate" version of their VMS later this year.

That transition to supporting SD card recording came as a sign of good news to at least one of the integrators in attendance. That integrator said he had been using Milestone for city surveillance projects and wanted to use Milestone to manage video recorded in police cars, but was challenged when trying to understand how to "dump" that video the central management system during off hours when the officer and the car returned to a central police station. The future development of synchronizing the upload locally recorded video piqued this integrator's interest, who otherwise faced limitations on how to extend the Milestone VMS to mobile assets.

In addition to sharing details on the direction of the company and its products, Milestone has hosted presentations from a number of partners (including IBM, Sony and Axis Communications) and discussed case studies (Luxottica, Korea's IFEZ city surveillance project).