Written by Rudie Opperman, Regional Manager, Engineering & Training, Middle East & Africa at Axis Communications
Building security solutions used to be a binary choice. In general, if an organisation had more complex needs and wanted a best-of-breed solution, it would opt for a multi-vendor set-up. If their needs were simpler, or they wanted an easier option to service, they chose a proprietary, single-vendor solution. But this often resulted in vendor lock-in that limits growth potential. If organisations wanted to upgrade to a more advanced video management system or cameras or add access control technology and other devices that weren’t in the vendor’s portfolio, their only option was to replace everything.
Today, however, there’s a third option – the open-platform, single-vendor solution. As a non-proprietary solution, it provides users with the best elements of both previous options. This approach gives customers the simplicity they need without being locked in with one vendor. And, as their needs become more complex, they keep the ability to scale the initial investment by integrating it with other vendors’ open-platform devices and software.
Before selecting an approach to security services, it’s important to explore the wide range of advantages afforded by an open, single-vendor security solution.
Quick and Easy Design and Purchase
In a traditional mix-and-match solution, one should consider whether those devices and software are compatible and allow access to all the features of those products. At the end of the day, systems integrators don’t just need a variety of components. They need a portfolio that’s designed to work together seamlessly and deliver full functionality, and a single-vendor solution can provide just that.
In a multi-vendor solution, you also often deal with different pricing structures and licensing agreements. But with a single vendor, all those details are coordinated with one source – how many licenses you’ll need, how frequently they’ll need to be updated, or whether the devices purchased come with one-time licensing fees that include upgrades.
Simple Installation, Management, and Security
Having a single point of contact can provide advantages to an integrator across a project’s lifecycle. If an installer must take more time on site than originally projected, an integrator starts to lose money. With a single-vendor solution, you have products you know have been designed and pre-tested to work well together, which reduces labour costs and shortens the initial setup time.
Once a security solution goes live, managing all the moving parts can be a challenge. With a single-vendor solution, it’s far easier to gain a holistic overview of the installation site and complete control over all devices. This greatly simplifies identifying devices on the network as well as managing system updates, outages, and other ongoing maintenance activities.
In terms of cybersecurity, there are significant differences between a multi-vendor solution and a single-vendor approach. A multi-vendor solution makes it difficult to ascertain whether all the vendors are maintaining the same high level of cybersecurity. Incomplete or untested cybersecurity measures in one vendor’s products could compromise the security of another vendor’s technology. But, with a single-vendor solution, it’s easy to apply relevant cybersecurity updates across the entire solution and respond more rapidly to threats.
One Point of Contact for All Support
In a multi-vendor solution, it’s often more difficult to determine where the problem lies and whose products are at fault, because there are so many potential points of failure. In a single-vendor solution, there’s only one company to hold accountable. It eliminates all the guesswork, all the running around in circles, and the endless phone calls.
Of course, there can be downsides to putting all your eggs in one basket – especially if it’s with the wrong vendor. It’s important for integrators to look for a trusted vendor with a broad portfolio of support services, a reliable product warranty, and a transparent replacement policy if something fails. Integrators should also make sure they offer an open platform that allows for integration with third-party devices if the need arises in the future. In the long term, having an open API, interoperability standards such as ONVIF, and custom integration services can prove invaluable.
A Partnership that Promotes Mutual Success
When a systems integrator decides to go with a single-vendor solution, the close connection that develops between the two companies is often more difficult to sustain in a multi-vendor environment. With a single-vendor solution, they can focus on developing expertise in a single portfolio. And, to support that effort, vendors offering value-adding partner programs can further enhance an integrator’s proficiency in their products and applications.
It is also crucial to partner with a vendor who has a clear roadmap for the future – one that includes ongoing product development and a long-term commitment to the security industry. Long-term vendor support is critical to maintaining a successful business operation. But it isn’t just about being able to call the company when something goes wrong. It’s about having a partner who supports you through the entire project lifecycle – from concept to installation and beyond.
The Importance of Weighing all Your Options
Security solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are extremely complex. Some are bare bones. Some are proprietary. Others are based on open standards. The direction you choose will depend on what best matches your specific needs.
An open, single-vendor security solution is a truly cost-effective option because it allows you to build on your initial investment. You can create a security and surveillance system that satisfies simple needs today – without limiting its potential to grow in the future.