Extreme Networks, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of Ethernet switching solutions for cloud, data center and mobile networks, recently announced that it is entering the physical security space with a portfolio of intelligent Ethernet switches tailored to meet the needs of market. These gigabit switches, which include the Summit X440, Summit X460 and Summit X670, were designed with networked physical security systems in mind and can accommodate integrated alarms, IP cameras and access control solutions among other devices.
According to Bill Murphy, director of marketing for Extreme Networks, there is a tremendous opportunity for makers of traditional IT networking solutions in industries that are going through a transition from analog to digital technology such as the security industry.
"I think it’s clear to everyone now that we’re over the hump and that the drive to IP is clearly in place now. If we look at that, there’s going to winners and losers created in that situation and we want to be sure we’re on the winning part," Murphy said.
One of the trends that bode well for companies like Extreme Networks, according to Murphy, is the increased role that IT professionals are having on the purchase of security technology due to the fact that they will be responsible for installing and maintaining the network.
"Right now, IT knowledge is relatively low across the (physical security) industry. There are pods of companies with very, very strong capability. We have some of our own particular VARs (Value-added resellers) who have been selling IT equipment for years who also sell physical security, so their knowledge in networking of course is quite high," explained Murphy. "You’ve got a lot of people though, who are coming from the analog space with a lower level of knowledge of the IT world."
Despite the importance of having a solid infrastructure to place all of these security devices on, however, Murphy said that organizations often neglect putting the necessary resources into building their network backbone.
"The other aspects of the physical security world – the cameras and the cable pull - are the big components of the costs. The (network) infrastructure is relatively low cost and is anywhere from three and a half to seven or eight percent of the deal and often gets pushed to side," he said. "The net result right now is we find in that market there is a tendency to put in a lot of very low cost switches with the inherent problems that come with that as you get into a network with more complexity."
Murphy said that the eventual market leaders in the physical security space will be those dealers and integrators that are strong in networking and IP technology.
"We believe the market is moving more towards people who reduce truck rolls. Our own estimates, and this is from talking to (other security technology providers), is that the average costs of a truck roll… is between $600 and $1,300. Our mission is to fundamentally reduce the truck rolls," he said.
According to Murphy, the biggest differentiator between Extreme Networks and companies with similar offerings is their ability to improve communication between the network and the higher level management systems such as VMS and PSIM platforms.
"If you look into a VMS today, there is no such thing as a network path where you can check on network statistics. On a camera, for example, you can tell the bit rate coming out of a camera, which should be the bit rate going into that particular camera port on the switch," he said. "But people in the physical security network will typically have no idea, unless they have good networking skills, on what is the actual traffic on the uplink port or any other ports in the camera, which could have a wireless access point or things like that. Our switches are very, very intelligent, so what we’re trying to do is make use of that intelligence to eliminate the problems around these particular areas. We can actually configure that switch ahead of time or multiple switches, so the install for a complicated switch is the same for the field installer as it would be for an eight-port switch they would buy from Best Buy."