Thursday, June 25, 2009

ESX 2009

So I went to ESX 2009 today, in beautiful downtown Bodymore, Murderland. Next year's event is scheduled to go down in Pittsburgh. Candidates for ESX 2011 include the Gaza Strip, the South Bronx, and a Carnival Cruise ship anchored off the coast of Somalia. I suppose the show's organizers think that security professionals are a rough, tough breed who won't be scared of a little crime. That, or it's cheaper to hold a convention in a town that doesn't usually get conventioneers. Sam Pfeifle is a bit more charitable. But then, he's a better person than I am.

I kid! I kid because I love! I like Baltimore. My wife is from Baltimore. We had our first date at the Baltimore Aquarium, a short walk from where the convention was held. But, still, Baltimore (like Pittsburgh) is not what you'd consider glamorous, like New York, or Las Vegas.

In other news, ASIS 2009 will be in Anaheim. California.

Speaking of Sam Pfeifle, I couldn't help but notice I'm not one of the 20 under 40. Oh, well, always next year, when I'll still be younger than anyone on the list this year. Has a 25 year old ever made that list?

Anyway, on to the show review.

I mainly hit this show in order to attend the Axis vendor training I saw advertised on a banner ad on top of the Security Info Watch forums (which you should sign up for if you like this blog). The training was excellent and totally worth the trip from New Jersey (YMMV). I was worried that it would just be the PowerPoint version of Axis' highly controversial TCO 'study', but they mostly skipped the propaganda and just answered the hardest question anyone in IP surveillance has to address: why go IP instead of analog?

The training was aimed at street-level sales people and dirty-pants installers, and strove mightily to give them a reason to recommend IP cameras instead of analog systems for medium sized jobs. The reasons why you might want to go IP have been hashed and rehashed and hashed further still elsewhere, but suffice it to say that the Axis guy did not hesitate to admit that 1) IP is nearly impossible to implement unless you know networking or can hire someone who does, 2) IP is often more expensive, and 3) in at least some cases, the customer would be better served by an analog solution.

Of course, there is a word for convincing the customer to spend more money than they had planned, based on the salesperson's knowledge of the product and the specific issue the customer is trying to address. Well, there is more than one word, but this is a family blog, and the word we're looking for here is "salesmanship". You may argue that the customer does not want to spend the money on IP cameras, but I would like to point out that to the customer, the ideal security project is completely free and solves all past, present, and future security issues forever and ever. Ain't gonna happen. Sure the customer doesn't want to spend IP money, but if you are a sales professional, it's your job to show them why spending IP money is a good idea.

After the seminar concluded, I hit the show floor. Unfortunately, Northern Video did not have a booth at the show, so I remained completely sober all day. I went to the Panasonic booth, and despite what I've been saying all over the Internet, Panasonic has not in fact shut down their analog R&D, and in fact had a new analog camera and a new DVR to brag on. The camera, the WV-CW504 (which apparently debuted at ISC West but I did not attend ISC West, grrr) is awesomesauce. Very pretty picture, using the new SD5 .

From here on in, analog cameras will use the new SD5 chip (SuperDynamic 5, replacing the SDiii image sensor) and IP cameras will use the MegaSD chip. Either way, the WV-CW504 will eventually replace the CW484 series. Street date is, like, Augustish. They did not have the DVR to show, but said the street date is something like Octobertime.

I stopped by the Mace booth, which was being manned by Dennis Raefield personally. We spoke about central station video monitoring, and how cool it would be if we could sell it. He told me about an all-in-one DVR Mace is going to be putting out. He told me that returns are down at Mace (which I see myself- we sell a ton of Mace stuff and returns for non functioning and malfunctioning product is way down, not that it was ever anything more than a minor concern, despite our no-questions-asked return policy).

Good for Mace, I want them to do well. Best user interface on a DVR I've ever seen- a retarded iguana can drink a pint of vodka and still figure out how to program a Mace DVR in a few minutes. Imagine how fast your end user can figure out a Mace DVR if they have thumbs.

Also said hi to Geoff Kohl of Security Info Watch. He's a cool guy. Hi, Geoff!

Overall, good show. I like the fact that the focus was on the installer, rather than the buyer or the CSO- I started out as an installer and I'm a dirty-pants kind of guy despite my suit. Freebies were not very impressive, although Wynit gave out thumb drives and Axis had a very substantial notebook. I got one "extra large" t shirt from Canon, and although I haven't tried it on I know that the Japanese define "extra large" very differently than Americans do.

I will probably be back next year.


Sam said...

Hey now - I was very early in my opposition to Baltimore. That city blows. When you're staying at the Marriott for a convention, and there's a strip club literally next door and the only place you can get food after 11 is the single sketchiest pizza joint I've ever been in (the $7 cigarette machine notwithstanding - I love cigarette vending machines even though I don't smoke anymore), you know the city sucks.

However, if you haven't been to Pitt-town, you need to get off its back. It's a really nice city - good music scene, good food, pretty, etc. They haven't really done any manufacturing there for 30 years and it's not polluted anymore (other than with people who use the word yins, their version of y'all).

Also, why didn't you swing by our booth? We could have put you on video.

Also also, when my son has "dirty pants" that generally means he needs a new diaper.

The CameraMan said...

I did swing by the booth, and some clean shaven dude with Luke Perry sideburns was interviewing Mike Murphy. Not seeing anyone I recognized, I grabbed a copy of SSN and kept walking to the Videolarm booth.

Steve said...

Ari, thanks for the fun and informative read. We circulate show trip reports internally, but it's valuable to hear other experiences and impressions--especially from the "man on the street."

When you're in Pittsburgh try to stay at the Renaissance downtown. It was my home away from home for a couple of years--best beds in the city, and lots to do and see at street level (used to be a really neat little Cuban diner next door).

Sam said...

Ouch. I was actually going for Jason Priestly...

Anonymous said...


The problem now with MACE is that their new product manager is absolutely incompetent, oh yes and their products are still for trunk slammers......