Cisco offers 'virtualized' video surveillance

Keeping with the company's strategy of delivering physical security solutions for large-scale deployments, Cisco held a media roundtable this week to discuss the addition of surveillance management software to its Unified Computing System (UCS) platform, resulting in the creation of a highly-scalable, virtualized video surveillance offering called Video Surveillance Manager (VSM).

According to Greg Carter, director of connected physical security solutions at Cisco, this new virtualized surveillance solution is the first part of a "building block" approach that the company is taking to solving the physical security challenges faced by governments and large enterprises.

"Last fall, we announced that we were going to be moving towards a greater focus on large-scale, strategic, complex integrated solutions. These are solutions like urban surveillance projects that include hundreds of thousands of cameras. They tend to have not just the video side of things, but command centers that are integrated, often times multiple command centers that need to be organized in a hierarchal manner with physical security information management and other command and control applications," Carter explained. "What we've been doing since we made this announcement is we've completely retooled our engineering and go-to-market approach around this solution-based message."

Though the increase in network security devices has placed more stress on the IT infrastructure of end users, Carter said that there is also a tremendous opportunity for organizations to be able to leverage that existing infrastructure for security.

"The thing that makes these kinds of projects unique as the industry has moved through these generations (of technology)... going from fully analog systems to network platform-based systems becoming the norm, we're seeing these very large, complex projects are putting the greatest demands on the IT infrastructure," he added. "At the same time, they also offer the greatest opportunity to take advantage of what that IT infrastructure brings to bear."

According to Geetha Dabir, vice president of the physical security business unit at Cisco, VSM on UCS can support hundreds of thousands of security cameras and provides up to a 1,000 percent boost in video surveillance stream capacity.

"Virtualization itself has the benefit of ease of configuration, scale and deployment, redundancy and reliability," she explained. "On the other hand, the UCS platform further provides the benefit of a unified common management system."

The company's UCS platform, which is currently being utilized by more than 11,000 end users, offers infrastructure consolidation in the data centers of end users though virtualization, memory, provisioning, I/O and management capabilities.

The VSM solution will be offered on both the UCS platform and UCS Express, which allows users to consolidate data center operations into their branch locations. VSM on UCS will be made available to customers later this summer, while VSM on UCS Express is available now.

"Virtualizing video surveillance offers organizations reduced infrastructure costs, faster disaster recovery and deployment, reduced staffing needs and cooling costs, and improved application performance, said Guido Jouret, general manager of Cisco's enterprise video group. "Our solutions-led building block strategy focuses on virtualizing all Cisco software applications with Cisco Unified Data Center applications to support optimal end-to-end video quality."

Carter said that Cisco will be making similar announcements in the near future as the company continues to roll out more "blocks" in its physical security portfolio.