Pelco video surveillance update at ISC West 2012

There's a lot happening at Pelco these days. The company, which jumped into the IP video market a little later and slower than most of its competitors (chiefly due to a heavy focus as a market leader for analog cameras), is now fully running in the networked direction – even as it maintains a strong analog component to service what is still a very large part of the market.

"Some people worried that we were going away [as a brand following the Schneider acquisition], but we're not," said Herve Fages, Pelco's Senior Vice President for Product Marketing within the Buildings Business of Schneider (the unit which includes Pelco). "The Pelco brand is here; it's not going anywhere."

In fact, the company is steadily introducing products at shows like this week's ISC West event. They have a full line of their SureVision cameras (affordable video surveillance cameras), plus new thermal imaging cameras, and updated enterprise-class video management solution with Endura, and a full streamline of their VMS line from entry level (DX) to mid-size (the DS solution with up to 128 cameras) and the aforementioned Endura enterprise VMS.

IP and open direction
Gone is the Pelco proprietary business model of yesteryear. The company is proud to announce that their VMS works with third party cameras and they have almost 300 integration partners. As Fages explains, "Right now, if you're not open, you don't exist in this world."

"We made a huge investment four years ago to move from being an analog company to an IP company.

We came out with a full range of IP cameras and also a full range of VMS offerings. All products have some IP level to them. As we made that change and made that bet [on IP], we have lost market share on analog. We may have not invested enough in analog as we focused on IP. We've now rebalanced that. We believe we have the right mix now."

IP, of course, is the growth area for Pelco, which saw 45% growth in IP camera sales in 2011. Fages said that the company is expecting to see 50% of all its camera sales be IP in 2012.

He said the company has also been changing from being a U.S.-dominated organization to a more global organization – something that parallels its purchase by Schneider Electric – the very definition of a global company. A few years ago, we were probably 70 percent focused on North America. Now it's probably a 50-50 split between the United States and overseas.

Thermal boom times
The real highpoint of 2012, besides the IP video growth has actually been the company's thermal cameras. Like Axis and FLIR, Pelco has launched a line of thermal imaging cameras that are far from the cost you might have expected years ago. The product line has been extremely well received.

"We cannot keep up with the demand today. The innovation in thermal imaging was that you can now cut the cost in half – before it was really FLIR and their high-end cameras. It wasn't a mainstream product.

Today of course, the product has become decidedly mainstream (although still predominantly chosen by critical infrastructure buyers). Pelco says that despite the fact that it OEMs the thermal imager, what the company brings is different because of improved image quality. "The main difference is because of our expertise in imaging and knowing how to do video. We have much higher definition and detail in the picture even though it may be the same resolution [as competitors]. But resolution isn't image quality. We buy the imager, but it's what you do beyond that which matters to users."

Head in the clouds
Finally, Pelco, like so many firms is presenting a cloud solution here at ISC West. Fages says that some of it is testing the water. "Going to the cloud is changing the business. We are going to produce a solution and figure out what works. We are going to undoubtedly learn a lot as we refine our cloud solutions. It's not a big push right now, but it is something that we see as the future. We don't know when cloud video is going to mature, but we are going to be ready for it." It's a natural fit for Pelco's future, he said, especially with parent company Schneider Electric heavily involved in data center operations.