Linksys puts its cameras in the ring

Linksys' Ivor Diedricks on how the company is getting serious about physical security


Diedricks hints that the company is not done yet in the physical security space; in fact, it sounds like they're just getting started.

"In the future, we will expand to other form factors, including domes," he said. He also mentioned future changes like optical zoom capabilities (digital zoom is currently available) and network Quality of Service options.

The company, it seems, is also working on Network Attached Storage (NAS) solutions aimed at storing surveillance video, and by packaging switches and NAS, Linksys can offer the full IP video solution that a small business would need.

Diedricks is also considering H.264 as a potential codec for the future of Linksys' offerings.

"A camera that could stream H.264, MPEG4 and MJPEG would be ideal, but you can't do that cost effectively," he said. "The increased processing power means increasing costs."

Giving them the software

Like many camera firms, they offer a bundled software package that can be used by end-users to support and manage up to 16 cameras. It's not on the level of products from companies like Milestone, OnSSI or Genetec, but then again, it's free software designed around the small business user who can self-manage a system.

Staying unique from Cisco (and still working with them)

"We go after different parts of the market than Cisco," said Diedricks. "They're focused on large-scale enterprise environments; they have the tools to allow you to scale into hundreds and hundreds of cameras and applications."

Nonetheless, businesses do grow and security needs can change. Linksys and Cisco have traditionally offered a "trade-up" program, where they can swap over to Cisco-brand components and get trade-up dollars when turning in the Linksys equipment.

Still one hurdle left...

It may seem like it is all roses over at Linksys as they go after the small business market with professional cameras installed by the channel. But there's one problem. The VAR market hasn't traditionally installed surveillance cameras, and there's a lot to learn about camera placement and how things like backlighting affect images.

"There is definitely going to be a learning curve," admitted Diedricks, "but the VARS that are proficient in networking tend to be people who are very open to learning new things, but even with that openness, the learning curve will be there."

"We are marketing to the VARs, but we are also evaluating the traditional CCTV/security channel. They know the lighting and the lenses, but they generally don't have the background in networking that VARs have."

If Linksys can bring the VARs up to speed on physical security installations (proper mounting, lighting, etc.), or if they can get the traditional security dealers up to snuff on deploying networks, then they potential have a winner of a product line. This challenge of IT training for physical security dealers or physical security training for IT VARs is not a new problem by any means, and IP video companies like Axis, Panasonic, Sony and others have already been hard at work at this very problem.

One potential hope is that as the installer market evolves, new workers who grew up on routers and networks will enter the ranks of security technicians, bringing the IT and physical knowledge needed to make IP video happen across the board. It might just be a hurdle that vanishes on its own.