By Sunny Kim
A BUSINESS SUCCESS
IndigoVision, founded in 1994, has pioneered the IP video market for 14 years and is recognized within the industry as a thought leader. Initially funded with í╠9 millon of venture capital led by 3i, the company listed on the London Stock Exchange in August, 2000 when it raised í╠35 millon. With the subsequent tech downturn IndigoVision returned about half of its capital to shareholders and changed its business model from technology licensing to manufacturing its own end-to-end solution, building its own sales channel and getting much closer to the end user. This focused business model has delivered dramatic success with revenues doubling year on year over the last 4 years and excellent share price performance from its low of 28p at the point of moving from licensing to manufacturing. Though seen by the industry as í«a manufacturerí» IndigoVision for reasons of efficiency subcontracts all its hardware manufacture to the Far East, though of course the company has developed and owns all its technology. With year on year triple digit revenue growth IndigoVision is growing at twice the market rate and strongly outperforms competitors in IP video.
IndigoVision Group plc is headquartered in Edinburgh, the U.K. with stocking and service hubs in New Jersey, Singapore and the U.K. IndigoVision has a worldwide sales presence with people in 14 countries and serves thousands of end users worldwide through its partner network of 200 authorized system integrators and installers in 40 countries.
IndigoVision has developed and owns the entire technology for its complete end-to-end IP video solutions, from the chip that powers the MPEG-4/H.264 compression in the transmitters through to enterprise level video and alarm management software. That means responsibility for the total solution remains firmly with the company, rather than being split between multiple vendors, as is the case if the hardware and software are being sourced from different manufacturers. This is a unique position in the marketplace and one that has brought IndigoVision significant success.
The companyí»s focus is on robust, high integrity solutions, often involving a requirement for redundancy -- for example, in recording, network connectivity, etc.
IndigoVisioní»s complete end-to-end IP video solution (Photo by IndigoVision)
The core of most traditional analogue CCTV systems is the video matrix. This is typically an electronics rack that is situated close to the control room. The matrix is a switch that routes video inputs from cameras to video outputs that are fed to monitors and DVRs/VCRs for recording as required. This is achieved by the operator(s) using desk-mounted keyboard controls. IndigoVisioní» IP video systems replace this with a Virtual Matrix, which provides far better reliability and scalability.
The Virtual Matrix is created through the combination of the IP network and í«Control Centerí», IndigoVisioní»s class-leading IP video and alarm management software. Cameras and Network Video Recorders (NVRs) can be connected to any point on the network. í«Control Centerí» handles all the switching of camera feeds to monitors and recorders -- creating a truly flexible and scalable solution. IndigoVisioní»s architecture removes the single point of failure associated with analogue matrices and allows new components to be connected to the system at any point there is a network connection, significantly reducing expansion costs.
IndigoVision decided in 1994 to start with a clean sheet when designing its IP video architecture, in order to apply the full power of IP networking to surveillance. In contrast, many manufacturers have used IP simply to replicate analogue CCTV, along with its many limitations. For example, with analogue CCTV if the matrix goes down, the system goes down; in the same way, other IP video manufacturers use a central server on which the entire system relies -- a single point of failure. The IndigoVision architecture puts the intelligence at the edge of the network making the system incredibly fault-tolerant and eliminating any single point of failure. This is just one example of how the IndigoVision architecture fully exploits the power of networking to provide end users huge benefits beyond analogue CCTV. Owning all the technology also gives IndigoVision the flexibility to develop bespoke interfaces for vertical markets and guarantees that its systems are futureproof through backward compatibility.
IndigoVisioní»s IP video systems are often installed using existing corporate networks. This can only be achieved because of IndigoVisioní»s advanced compression technology, which allows DVD quality video to be streamed around a network with minimal impact on the bandwidth. IndigoVision also guarantees a frame rate of 25/30fps, without dropping frames even in high-motion environment. This is an important factor in many applications such as casinos.
IndigoVision manufactures two ranges of product using different compression standards, the series 8000 uses MPEG-4 and the series 9000 uses H.264. The 9000 range provides the same high quality, low-latency video that is consistently delivered by 8000 MPEG-4-based systems but with a reduction of up to 50% in bandwidth and storage requirement -- or to put it another way, 9000-based systems can deliver significantly higher video quality for the same bandwidth. The two ranges offer the designer and end-user a wider choice of cost/performance solutions. The 8000 and 9000 ranges are fully interoperable; allowing seamless integration or upgrades of the two technologies.
IndigoVision designs and manufactures all of its IP video components totally in-house. The major components are:
IndigoVisioní»s í«Control Centerí» is IP video and alarm management software at the heart of their complete IP video solutions. It is a highly scalable software application which allows local and remote control of any CCTV system, from an entry-level system with a small number of cameras, to a large installation with thousands of cameras.
In conjunction with IndigoVisioní»s range of transmitter/receiver modules, IP cameras and Network Video Recorders (NVRs), í«Control Centerí» provides a complete solution for digital CCTV.
IndigoVision uniquely supplies í«Control Centerí» with an unrestricted license. This means end-users can add monitoring workstations to any part of their network for no more than the cost of an entry-level PC.
True IP Cameras
Dedicated IP cameras offer significant benefits for CCTV installations, providing direct connection to the network, reduced installation costs, eliminating external power with PoE and creating high-quality video through digital-only links between the camera sensor and network. However, the real benefits come from using true IP cameras, which form part of an integrated end-to-end IP video solutions.
IndigoVision has established itself as a manufacturer of true IP cameras which complement its complete IP CCTV solution. IndigoVisioní»s extensive range consists of high-end professional cameras with either MPEG-4 or H.264 compression, which are available as fixed, dome or PTZ, for both internal and external applications. IndigoVision offers an excellent range of IP cameras across a wide price/specification spectrum. However, it is the powerful built-in features such as storage saving Activity Controlled Framerate (ACF) and real-time analytics that differentiates them from the competition and makes them true IP cameras.
Analogue CCTV cameras are connected directly to the IP network via IndigoVisioní»s transmitter/receiver modules. These are available as single units or mounted in 4- or 10-way racks. The 4-way rack unit has also been developed with the mobile surveillance market in mind, where typically 4 or less cameras mounted on buses, trams and trains need to be connected to an on-board IP network for monitoring and recording. The rack has an extra network port which allows direct connection to a Network Video Recorder (NVR), providing a stand-alone compact mobile solution. Each unit is available as either 8000 or 9000 depending on the compression technology required.
Network Video Recorders (NVRs)
NVR performance becomes a significant factor in how video can be cost-effectively stored. In this area IndigoVision is a technology leader, for example, IndigoVisioní»s NVR server software can record up to 200 video streams continuously on the lowest specification PC server. The company produces both Windows-based NVR software and stand-alone hardware NVRs that have hot-swappable hard disks and built-in redundancy features.
The combination of í«Control Centerí» and the NVRs allow users to implement advanced redundancy strategies for CCTV recording. Resilient and redundant recording solutions are becoming important to many CCTV users that require potentially valuable recordings to be protected against equipment and network failures. IndigoVision NVRs can be transparently located at any point on the network, removing single-point failures, which are common with traditional analogue/DVR recording systems. NVRs can also be deployed as failover backups and mirrors for primary NVRs and sophisticated Webs or chains of NVR redundancy can be created.
IndigoVisioní»s advanced analytics is fully integrated within its complete IP video solutions. These algorithms run both in real-time on live video and also on recorded video using í«Control Centerí» software. Real-time analytics is located at the edge of the network, i.e., at the camera, making the solution totally scalable. CCTV operators can detect events as they happen such as congestion, stolen objects, cars parked too long outside a building, people moving the wrong way through security checkpoints, etc.
IndigoVisioní»s analytics includes: congestion detection, motion detection, abandoned object detection, counter flow, virtual tripwire, shape-based detection, object tracking and theft detection. All of these can be run in real-time at the camera or post-event on recorded video.
Real-time analytics runs in the 8000 and 9000 transmitter/receiver modules connected to analogue cameras and in IndigoVisioní»s true IP cameras. This significantly reduces bandwidth requirements on the network and ensures the system is fully scalable. Pre-determined events are identified as they happen, at any camera, and can drive the virtual matrix, e.g., display a salvo on a bank of monitors. Real-time analytics leads to increased effectiveness and improvements in incident detection hit rates.
True integration is the ability to seamlessly interface systems from different security disciplines to create a total solution that produces greater benefits to the end user than would be possible from the individual systems. IndigoVisioní»s complete IP video system allows true integration with third parties to provide a totally IP-based, world-class security solution, encompassing CCTV, access control, intruder alarms and more.
Through a range of integration modules, í«Control Centerí» can be seamlessly integrated with a number of access control systems, including Cardax, GE Secure Perfect, Honeywell Galaxy, Lenel OnGuardand Software House. The advanced alarm features of í«Control Centerí» have allowed it to act as the alarm master for many integrated projects, consolidating alarms from the CCTV and access control systems. Doha International Airport, Qatar, is a good example of this, the 600+ cameras and 200+ access control points were integrated together to form a single IP-security system. The tight integration allows the Virtual Matrix to be driven by alarm events, e.g., a salvo of cameras can be displayed when an alarm is raised from a given access point. Events within í«Control Centerí« are generated and logged for card swipes, illegal access and tamper detect.
The focus on redundant, resilient and secure systems, coupled with integrated video analytics to support investigation, is what sets IndigoVision apart in providing enterprise networked solutions. Whether the requirement is for a small site, a large site, an enterprise, or an alarm receiving center, all are provisioned by IndigoVision.
PARTNERSHIPS, GLOBAL REACH, LOCAL SUPPORT
IndigoVision partners with some 200 authorized system integrators and installers in 40 countries to provide local system design, installation and service to end users.
IndigoVision is 100% focused on delivering the very best customer service, and the company prides itself on the commitment it makes to both partners and end users. The Customer Service Team is at the front-face of the organization, providing excellence and professionalism in dealing with partners. Working by phone, e-mail and face-to-face, the companyí»s representatives deal with any questions or issues that arise during the specification, installation or maintenance of IndigoVision IP video solutions.
IndigoVisioní»s purpose is to be the market leader in the enterprise IP video market. Fundamental to this goal is IndigoVisioní»s partner network who represents and services IndigoVision solutions to end users. To this end IndigoVision operates an open and honest relationship with partners, and ensures that all partners understand the strategic direction of IndigoVision, and how the IndigoVision community will prosper together.
In 2008 IndigoVision was awarded the Frost & Sullivan Award for Customer Value Enhancement. The award was presented in recognition of the companyí»s ability to offer a complete range of high-quality products and solutions to its customers. The Customer Value Enhancement Award is presented each year to the company that has demonstrated more innovative, value creation and enhancement strategies than competing vendors. IndigoVision puts high priority on meeting customerí»s needs through the provision of advanced solutions, value-added services and agility in responding to their queries.
IndigoVision provides comprehensive and effective technical training to its partners before they are authorized to sell its solutions in the market. Its course structure is tailored to suit the needs of each installer. The company believes that this approach leads to a long-term relationship with its partners, and in turn to better installation and performance of its IP video solutions in the field. Every year, the company trains many hundreds of people in its Training Academy.
INVESTMENT IN PEOPLE
Engaging and retaining the best talent in the industry is paramount to IndigoVisioní»s success. The company has processes that proactively support recruitment for the future, the training and development of its staff and awards for success. Critically, social responsibility within the company is given a high profile -- IndigoVision gives its staff every opportunity to support and contribute to local charities and foundations that make a difference. IndigoVision connects with the hearts and minds of its workforce.
IndigoVision has established itself as the leading manufacturer of complete IP-based solutions for the CCTV surveillance market. IndigoVision has invested over US$40 million in developing the most advanced and comprehensive product range currently available in the marketplace, together with an experienced and capable worldwide network of system integrators. Sunny Kim, Editor of SecurityWorld INTí»L has met with Oliver Vellacott, CEO of IndigoVision, who in this interview talks about IndigoVisioní»s plans for further geographical expansion in the future and ultimate vision.
What do you think is the driving force that leads IndigoVision to be one of the worldí»s security leaders?
IndigoVision started in 1994 with a clean sheet when designing its IP video architecture in order to unleash the full power of IP networking. In contrast, many manufacturers have used IP simply to replace analogue CCTV, along with its many limitations. For example, with analogue CCTV if the matrix goes down, the system goes down in the same way, other IP video manufacturers use a central server on which the entire system relies -- a single point of failure. The IndigoVision architecture puts the intelligence at the edge of the network making the system incredibly fault-tolerant and eliminating any single point of failure. This is just one example of how the IndigoVision architecture fully exploits the power of networking to provide end users huge benefits beyond analogue CCTV. We also own all our technology which gives us the flexibility to develop bespoke interfaces for vertical markets and to guarantee that our systems are futureproof through backward compatibility. This can be seen through many long-standing high-profile projects that have recently upgraded their systems, such as the 1000 camera system at Brussels Airport which first installed IndigoVision in 2001. IndigoVision partners and end users are enjoying the benefits of a single-vendor end-to-end solution. Compared to multi-vendor solutions where í«the buck doesní»t stop anywhereí», IndigoVision provides better end-to-end performance, support and training from one organization, a cleaner business model without channel/competitor conflicts and fast responsiveness we own and understand the whole solution!
Please explain the current IP video and alarm management markets in your country. And what are your marketing strategies that you are uniquely adopting for success there?
IndigoVision is a global company operating in over 40 countries and our key strategy is the way we work with our partners in each region. We only sell through authorized installers and systems integrators -- we do not sell to any end users and we do not sell through distributors. We have active one-to-one marketing programs with key partners, working with them to educate end users to the benefits of IP video. However, key to our success is the way we target vertical markets such as casinos, rail, oil and gas, etc. By clearly identifying the business benefits that IndigoVisioní»s solution brings to each vertical, we have been able to successfully establish IndigoVision as the IP video benchmark for enterprise solutions in many markets.
Please introduce your current sales network around the world.
IndigoVision operates with direct sales people in over 40 countries worldwide. We have regional stocking and service hubs in the U.K., New Jersey and Singapore. Currently we have 45 sales executives, and this is growing rapidly, supported by local technical support professionals working with over 200 authorized partners.
Which customer sectors have the largest potential for IndigoVision?
IndigoVision is active in many vertical markets, all of which are showing significant growth for the company. In particular we are seeing huge growth in government, utilities, education, transportation, retail and banking sectors. The casino sector is typical of the success that our focused vertical marketing activity has brought. IndigoVision has now upgraded 13 casinos worldwide to fully networked surveillance, establishing our end-to-end IP video solutions as the benchmark for the gaming industry.
Which geographical markets are increasing the most for IndigoVision now?
We are seeing significant growth in all of our main markets in North America, the U.K., Europe and Asia. We have doubled our sales revenues in each of the last three years, far out-performing similar companies in the IP video sector.
Do you have any plans for geographical expansion in the near future?
IndigoVision currently covers all the main markets around the world. This includes a new presence in areas like India where IndigoVision is winning substantial orders. We will be increasing the size of our sales team in all these markets to support further penetration and continued growth.
Please comment on IndigoVisioní»s ultimate vision.
IP video is going to be a US$10b+ market, and we intend to be the market leader.
How will IndigoVision become the leader in a US$10b market?
By continuing to grow our revenues twice as fast as the market, continuing to provide single-vendor end-to-end solutions which delight our end users, and continuing to work closely with our partners around the world to achieve significant growth for the whole IndigoVision community.
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