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Observations from the MVaaS Summit


I had the good fortune this past week to attend the inaugural Managed and Hosted Video Summit in Boulder, Colorado, sponsored by Managed Video-as-a-Service provider Envysion and IP camera manufacturer Axis Communications.

The event was organized around the growing business of using cloud and SaaS technologies to provide enhanced video management services, both within the traditional surveillance market and beyond. Inside of the security industry, hosted video offerings are often advertised as “DVR replacements,” although that portrayal undercuts much of what’s useful and unique about this breed of offering. Sure, reducing upfront hardware expense and installation labor are valuable parts of hosted services, but the bigger picture is about increasing the utility of video surveillance. Hosted video is particularly good at this for widely dispersed properties, assets, or activities.

In that regard, several of the speakers from the retail industry chose to focus on the ROI of hosted video offerings. The first point they made is that ROI is still the name of the game for loss prevention, risk management, and most other types of retail applications. If you can’t prove ROI as a vendor, you might as well go home. The second point was that the ROI equation is increasingly tilted by uses beyond catching crooks or dishonest employees. Marketing and customer satisfaction applications come to the fore as two primary examples. Aided by analytics, hosting the video centrally enhances these types of solutions by making the data widely—and instantly—available to multiple stakeholders.

One of the hottest topics at the summit—both on the podium and over cocktails—is the question of whether hosted IP video solutions will require any support or participation from the traditional security integrator channel, a subject frequently discussed in print at and Security Systems News, among others. Most of the people I spoke with took the view that traditional integrators are becoming increasing irrelevant for IP video surveillance projects—particularly if they are using a hosted service, which eliminates much of the on-premise complexity. Unlike access control system installations, which still require specialized skill sets and familiarity with fire and electrical codes, the fact is that almost anyone can hang a camera on the wall and plug it into the network. It’s just too easy. Many IT integrators, with their strong IP networking skills and lower hardware mark-ups, appear to be filling the vacuum in this space.

Perhaps the most interesting comments of the two-day summit came from investors in this space—who see it is just that, a new space unto itself, not a derivative of security, with its own markets, channels, and emerging players who may or may not have a legacy within the traditional surveillance industry.

Naturally, there was a lot of optimism all the way around about the potential growth of the market. Some of that optimism is probably momentum from IP video in general, but the balance could certainly be supported by the enthusiasm of the attendees at conferences like this one.

- Steve Van Till


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