I remember growing up in the UK years ago during the UK’s  ‘North Sea Oil Boom’. It was a time of great excitement and opportunity for the nation. A whole industry was developed to deal with offshore exploration to ‘bring the energy home’.

It was Aberdeen’s local ‘moon landing’ event –  just five months after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, the North Sea oil fields were discovered off the east coast of Scotland. Certainly parts of Scotland, Aberdeen especially, saw an uptick in employment from the gloomy ’60s, and the economy changed from rural farming, fishing and textiles to include a more industrial oil and gas setting. Employment, property prices and investment in the City boomed.

Video Surv. from Ferguson Case StudyFerguson is a great Scottish name, but the founder is a great example of how folks were attracted  from outside Scotland (founder Bill Ferguson Jr. is an American) to help further the oil industry in Scotland. Today, Ferguson Group are a key part of the Aberdeen economy, as a leading suppliers of containers, accommodations, and workspace modules for the offshore energy industry (now worldwide).

I thought I’d share how Ferguson conquered a business challenge – namely protecting high-value equipment and, at the same time, use a standardized system and process worldwide whilst keeping up with industry security standards.

As Graham Cowperthwaite said in a recent article: “For years our headquarters in Scotland relied on an analog video security system”. Graham is director of operations at Ferguson Group, and went on to say “That system wasn’t meeting our needs in terms of image quality and remote accessibility.” He added: “For example, our board members are often traveling between bases, and want to have the ability to check back on facilities from any networked location, even from an iPad. We simply couldn’t do that with an analog system.”

So Ferguson switched from a an analog security system to an IP-based solution, from Cisco. And it wasn’t just cameras and door hardware. They also needed to consider the security and reliability of the network on which camera images and access history would be transmitted and stored.

 “We looked at other physical security offerings on the market, but nothing came close to Cisco in terms of comprehensiveness,” says Graham Cowperthwaite. “Only Cisco could provide us with a total combination of Cisco IP video cameras, door readers, firewalls, and routers, all available globally with the highest levels of vendor support. We were already a Cisco house in terms of our network infrastructure, and the interoperability of these solutions fit in perfectly with our goals for standardization.”

Ferguson Group now relies on the Cisco® Video Surveillance Manager to monitor its entire facility in Aberdeenshire, including doors, buildings, and the many valuable assets in the company’s storage yard. Supervisors on the Ferguson network can access live, high-quality footage on a laptop or mobile device. They can even review recorded footage as necessary. This all runs on an integrated Cisco architecture (based on Cisco Desktop Virtualization with VMware (VXI), running on the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (UCS®), for the techies amongst you!).

The business results? Well Graham Donnelly, Ferguson’s Partner Manager, says in a published Cisco Case Study: Our board of directors spend time on the road and they like to feel connected to headquarters, checking on our day-to-day progress in the storage yards. Having access to our Cisco IP cameras, to view both live and recorded footage via Cisco Video Surveillance Manager, gives the board an enormous amount of comfort. (So I’m thinking – how much is that worth? Less stress for your exec team? less sleepless nights?  Wow – priceless!). Donnelly goes on to say how Ferguson was able to check up on their security contractors and saw that they were neglecting to check the facility on a regular basis as they’d agreed to do. The Cisco security system gave them the evidence to challenge the contractor with clear evidence that they weren’t meeting their obligations. So that was another business benefit – higher security and better service from their contractor!

Ferguson Group Containers – not just a metal box on an oil rig any more!

I could go on, but then this would become an unashamed commercial for Cisco (okay, it already is, I get that  – but an interesting one without loads of boring product data right?). I couldn’t end without mentioning the Cisco Partner involved – Cisco Select Certified Partner, Clark Integrated Technologies (CIT). We at Cisco are indebted to our partner network – especially those that get certified like Clarke. Great reassurance for our customers.

Well that’s enough ‘selling’ I suppose. Let me know what you think. Are you doing this at your company? Would you like to? Or don’t you care? Let me know by commenting!

‘Til next time, “keep your energy level high!”, Peter



Peter Granger

Senior Sales Transformation Manager