The Return of Steelbox

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The ASIS International seminar and exhibits marks the return of Steelbox, a star-crossed manufacturer of a platform for switching, distributing and storing large amounts of video and audio across IP networks. The company will showcase the integration of its products with SRI International's  Integrated Video Environment (IVE) and Aware Mobile Network at SRI's booth this week at ASIS in Anaheim, Calif.

After falling into foreclosure last November, the Atlanta-based company's intellectual property assets were purchased by Adtech Global Solutions (AGS).  As part of the asset purchase, the "Steelbox" brand became a division of AGS, a worldwide service organization focused on the design, fulfillment and support of computer technology platforms. The company is integrating the Steelbox products into those of its other technology partners, including Telindus, a video management system (VMS) supplier.

Steelbox's technology essentially partitions bandwidth on IP networks to create and support secure paths for distribution, recording and playback of large amounts of video. Neither truly a VMS nor a storage appliance, the Steelbox technology nonetheless optimizes the performance of both in a large-scale network environment. The Steelbox partitioning software can punch open a 1.5 Gb/s channel for media sources, according to Nik Moissiadis, vice president of Steelbox and an AGS co-founder, and can scale to manage hundreds of nodes.

The unique position of Steelbox in the supply chain was also its principal challenge. The company needed to develop numerous application protocol interfaces and software development kits to work with the various VMS and storage platforms on the market. Under AGS, one focus will be to enhance APIs and SDKs with the purpose of more fully integrating with third-party systems, said Moissiadis

Steelbox technology currently has been deployed through Telindus in the Incheon, South Korea, subway system and as part of the U.K. Highway Agency's National Roads Telecommunications Services project. U.S.-based customers include the military, large metro transportation agencies and colleges and universities. Steelbox's relationship with Telindus dates prior to the AGS acquisition.

During Steelbox's start-up phase, its technology received good reviews from industry consultants such as John Honovich and Steve Hunt, as well as 2008 Product Innovation Award from Frost & Sullivan.

"Steelbox provides a unique and very attractive solution to large scale video surveillance deployments," Honovich wrote on IPVideoMarket.info in July 2008. "In applications where more than a hundred cameras are being deployed in a location and a command and control system is being used, Steelbox may be the very best solution on the market. Of course, most customers do not fit this scenario but Steelbox delivers a very powerful solution to one of the fastest growing segments of the video surveillance market."

"Steelbox's main problem was that the product was too damn good," Hunt wrote on his SecurityDreamer blog when Steelbox closed in November 2008. "Customers who bought one or two would never need another box."

While its technology was sound, Steelbox was undone by a series of management missteps. It had trouble communicating the role of its platform and its target market. Although the platform clearly scaled for large installations, the company apparently tried to develop a version for the SMB market. Also, after touting itself as an open systems-based, OEM solution, it embarked on development of a front-end VMS. Finally, the company overspent on marketing, which included the purchase of large booth space at a series of major trade shows, and burned through much of its venture capital before gaining market traction.

The ASIS International seminar and exhibits marks the return of Steelbox, a star-crossed manufacturer of a platform for switching, distributing and storing large amounts of video and audio across IP networks. The company will showcase the integration of its products with SRI International's  Integrated Video Environment (IVE) and Aware Mobile Network at SRI's booth this week at ASIS in Anaheim, Calif.

After falling into foreclosure last November, the Atlanta-based company's intellectual property assets were purchased by Adtech Global Solutions (AGS).  As part of the asset purchase, the "Steelbox" brand became a division of AGS, a worldwide service organization focused on the design, fulfillment and support of computer technology platforms. The company is integrating the Steelbox products into those of its other technology partners, including Telindus, a video management system (VMS) supplier.

Steelbox's technology essentially partitions bandwidth on IP networks to create and support secure paths for distribution, recording and playback of large amounts of video. Neither truly a VMS nor a storage appliance, the Steelbox technology nonetheless optimizes the performance of both in a large-scale network environment. The Steelbox partitioning software can punch open a 1.5 Gb/s channel for media sources, according to Nik Moissiadis, vice president of Steelbox and an AGS co-founder, and can scale to manage hundreds of nodes.

The unique position of Steelbox in the supply chain was also its principal challenge. The company needed to develop numerous application protocol interfaces and software development kits to work with the various VMS and storage platforms on the market. Under AGS, one focus will be to enhance APIs and SDKs with the purpose of more fully integrating with third-party systems, said Moissiadis

Steelbox technology currently has been deployed through Telindus in the Incheon, South Korea, subway system and as part of the U.K. Highway Agency's National Roads Telecommunications Services project. U.S.-based customers include the military, large metro transportation agencies and colleges and universities. Steelbox's relationship with Telindus dates prior to the AGS acquisition.

During Steelbox's start-up phase, its technology received good reviews from industry consultants such as John Honovich and Steve Hunt, as well as 2008 Product Innovation Award from Frost & Sullivan.

"Steelbox provides a unique and very attractive solution to large scale video surveillance deployments," Honovich wrote on IPVideoMarket.info in July 2008. "In applications where more than a hundred cameras are being deployed in a location and a command and control system is being used, Steelbox may be the very best solution on the market. Of course, most customers do not fit this scenario but Steelbox delivers a very powerful solution to one of the fastest growing segments of the video surveillance market."

"Steelbox's main problem was that the product was too damn good," Hunt wrote on his SecurityDreamer blog when Steelbox closed in November 2008. "Customers who bought one or two would never need another box."

While its technology was sound, Steelbox was undone by a series of management missteps. It had trouble communicating the role of its platform and its target market. Although the platform clearly scaled for large installations, the company apparently tried to develop a version for the SMB market. Also, after touting itself as an open systems-based, OEM solution, it embarked on development of a front-end VMS. Finally, the company overspent on marketing, which included the purchase of large booth space at a series of major trade shows, and burned through much of its venture capital before gaining market traction.

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