All Eyes On Surveillance Opportunity

Distributor Tech Data's recent expansion of its video surveillance product offerings to include network test solutions underscores the growing importance of the physical security market to channel partners.

Distributor Tech Data's recent expansion of its video surveillance product offerings to include network test solutions underscores the growing importance of the overall physical security market to the channel.

"Physical security has been an emerging opportunity for our (reseller) customers, especially the networking specialists, " said Bob Shouse, senior manager for network product marketing at the Data. He estimated that at least 1,000 such customers have purchased security products from Tech Data since the distributor established a specialty business unit in physical security two years ago. Some 400 of these are regular customers making multiple purchases of products such as monitoring systems, video recorders, software, IP cameras, enclosures, mounts and other accessories.

To appeal to such customers, and to attract other channel partners who are networking or telecom specialists, the distributor struck deals with five new vendor partners: Digimerge Technologies, JDSU, Lorex Technology, On-Net Surveillance Systems and Videolarm. Products from 17 other vendors already are stocked in the business unit. The latest deals offer a broader assortment of network test equipment.

Shouse estimated that the video surveillance portion of the physical security market could reach $2.3 billion by 2012. Much of the growth is being fueled, he added, by the transition of the market from traditional analog closed-circuit television systems (CCTV) to digital systems running over IP networks. "Convergence is starting to happen," he noted. "More customers are using the Internet and IP networks to run their data. It is starting to take chunks out of the traditional CCTV world."

Shouse drew a parallel between the transition that impacted the telecom world, where companies moved from traditional analog PBXs to digital IP telephony solutions, and the physical security space. "The same thing is occurring in the surveillance world," he said.

One Tech Data VAR who has built a strong security practice said the business involves much more than providing monitoring solutions for government or law enforcement agencies. Grant Jensen, owner of Up-N-Running Consulting, based in rural Wisconsin,  said demand for video surveillance systems is strong from groups such as local tourist agencies, who want to post live Web video of popular tourist attractions, and from educational institutions who want to keep an eye on dormitory entrances or other heavily areas drawing heavy pedestrian traffic. One particularly interesting installation involved using surveillance technology to track migrating salmon in the state of Washington. Replacing the human fish counters with cameras actually increased the accuracy of the fish count from about 75 to 93 percent, he added.

Jensen said Tech Data's efforts in the market help VARs increase their profit margin on a security sale. "The value is in the responsiveness," he said. "They are able to save me a lot of time by providing access to solutions that they have already tested in the lab. They are doing a lot of research and development on these solutions, and that is a lot of work that is expensive and that I would have to eat." Customers typically expect a process that involves a relatively quick price quote, installation and fix, he added. Having to do extra work "blows my margin" but having Tech Data involved as a partner lessens the possibility of installations and service snafus.

TAGS: security,software,networking,video surveillance

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