What the Orsus acquisition means for NICE

Purchase takes NICE from analytics and video into a future of situation management says NICE's division president

With last week's $22 million acquisition of PSIM/situation management technology firm Orsus, NICE Systems picks up what public safety division president Chris Wooten thinks is the future of high-end security projects.

"Where customers place value is not whether you can capture the information, but what you can do with it," explained Wooten, who has been with NICE since 2002 and who assumed leadership of the company's public safety division in 2006. "They ask, 'How can you take that info and make me more effective at what I do?' For security, the information can come from many different sources," Wooten said. "NICE has had the domain experience on the video surveillance side of the business, and what this allows us to provide to the customer is a more complete solution for high-end, more complex applications."

That's the model he sees for Orsus, which provides situation management technology to help companies integrate a number of separate security technology and sensor systems into a platform that can also automate security workflow procedures. Sensors points could be everything from traditional security sensors platforms (intrusion, access control, video surveillance) to building controls and automation systems to specialized systems (gas and CBRNE detection, for example) to even IT/network security systems.

Part of the unique value proposition of Orsus was that NICE saw the company as being "a step higher" than physical security information management by combining PSIM with the aforementioned workflow process management. Wooten added that Orsus had the largest number of installations among the PSIM companies that NICE looked at (and he said that they considered all the players before making this acquisition).

Who buys Orsus solutions and how is it used?

Orsus has some typical customer models, said Wooten. The first would be a business or organization that has installed a high number of unique systems -- often in different facility locations -- that need to share information. A second characteristic customer might be a company that has a dominant legacy system in place which they need tied in with a newer technology platform. The third typical customer need is a company that "has too many systems and wants a single point of truth" for analyzing data, alarms and security information.

The Orsus technology typically communicates with the head-end of systems. Rather than talking to sensors, door components and cameras itself, the system speaks to other platforms at the management system level. If, for example, a customer had a Software House system controlling access control, the Orsus Situator would patch data in from the Software House management system. Likewise it would communicate with the installed video management system, not the individual cameras. According to Wooten, one of the strengths that NICE saw in the Orsus platform was that the company has already done integrations with many of the leading players of security and sensor management systems. He said that there are already over 100 "off-the-shelf" integrations that allow Orsus to work with common security platforms.

The system is typically used by corporate security executives, who approach the Situator system from a reports generation standpoint for information on response times and other key metrics, and by the organization's security analyst or operator, who uses the system to manage actual incidents in real-time.

One of the key ways that the Orsus technology is used is that the organization's standard operating procedures (S.O.P.) for security can be added into the system to automate workflow. For example, if the company's S.O.P. for an intrusion alarm in a select zone is to lock-down select doors, the end-user could set the system rules to do that. An analogy for that workflow set-up would be something similar to the way many businesses use the "rules" feature of Microsoft Outlook for managing incoming emails.

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