Even though it’s still summer in Chicago where I live, I’ve been thinking about what product features security integrators want from our IP-enabled security device manufacturers in the near future, say by Dec. 25, 2007.

Open Standards — Can you say “Wang?” Back in the 1980s, computer devices and software were costly, tricky to use and required factory-trained personnel to operate. The single defining moment that changed the course of network history was when the original developers of the Ethernet communications protocol assigned the rights to their invention to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

With this single act, a truly revolutionary technology was given to any and all manufacturers who wanted to build Ethernet hardware and software, with no license fees or usage restrictions. This is the reason that if you have a single PC connected to a router and a DSL or cable modem connection in your home or business today, you possess 10 times the computing power of an early 1980s proprietary enterprise computing system at a fraction of the cost of the older equipment.

An open standard such as Ethernet, brings best-of-breed products to the marketplace, as vendors compete to deliver cheaper/faster/better devices to users who decide what technologies are best by buying them.

The contrast between the open standards of the networking world and the proprietary technologies prevalent in the electronic security industry is obvious and glaring. Although organizations such as the Security Industry Association (SIA) are working on reaching an agreement among our leading manufacturers, this process needs to be accelerated.

Open standards will come to our industry, and those vendors who choose to continue along the proprietary path will pay the price. Do you remember “Wang?”

Universal PoE — Power over Ethernet is being included in many high-end IP cameras from vendors such as Pelco, Bosch, Sony, and JVC. This wide proliferation of PoE would indicate that it isn’t very expensive to include this technology into edge devices.

The next step is for our manufacturers to provide PoE in all devices, including video encoders, decoders, control devices and other equipment. Whether a device is on the edge of the network or located in the telecommunications closet, the problems inherent in plug-in transformer power for IP-enabled security devices are exactly the same.

PoE should quickly become a standard capability for networked security devices. One innovative vendor, S2 Security, is providing their Netbox access control panels with PoE capability. Enough power is available to operate an electric strike, as well as access credential readers and peripherals.

Gigabit Ethernet — While security equipment vendors are typically including 10/100 Ethernet capability in network cameras, encoders, etc. the enterprise networking industry already has made the leap to Gigabit (1000 Mbps) connectivity. The leading manufacturer of network switches, Cisco, has reported that more than 50 percent of the switch ports they are currently shipping are 10/100/1000 Ethernet-capable.

Gigabit Ethernet is reaching out to the desktop quickly; it’s not just for backbone communications between switches. Our vendors need to catch up to the enterprise network and include 10/100/1000 Ethernet in all devices. System integrators need products that are fully compatible and up-to-date with the enterprise network.

Our vendors need to update their product lines to meet current and developing enterprise network capabilities, and do it by Christmas.

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Since the advent of graphical user interface (GUI) software such as Windows, many computer users have forgotten the basic DOS commands that were used before 1995.

Many important network tests such as ping, tracert, and netstat, are performed from the "command line" (DOS prompt) in Windows. If you cannot remember how to “cd” to a directory, visit www.commandwindows.com for various tutorials on how to manipulate your computer “old-school.”