Center Stage 2012

Big changes are coming to the security industry in 2012. This coming year, Internet Protocol (IP) network infrastructures will play a front and center role when it comes to the performance of security and surveillance systems. This new year will also be a year of convergence for many security professionals; however, the convergence is not just limited to the integration of technologies within the security department. Security professionals are going to have to reach outside of their department and build alliances enterprise-wide to succeed. Wireless mobility, high-definition video and data center capacity will also play a significant role in shaping 2012.

Convergence in the security industry generally refers to integrating access control panels, video management systems, alarm sensors and the likes into a cohesive IP-based solution to achieve system-wide interoperability of IP security devices. However, the next wave of convergence involves a much larger view of integrating the entire IP-based security system with other IP-based systems from multiple departments.


Convergence shapes the infrastructure

In addition to supporting the security department’s technology, today’s network infrastructures also house additional building systems, including ventilation, lighting, power systems, communication and data technologies. In many enterprises, security and access control departments have operated as separate, independent entities; however, the shift toward IP-based security systems means the security department is becoming more reliant on the organization’s IP-based network infrastructure, blending the lines between security and IT.

Some security professionals are finding it challenging to move from an analog-based system to an IP-based one that integrates with multiple departments and systems within an organization. Network administrators are also struggling to find ways to deal with yet another system on their network. Controversies arise over which department has control and jurisdiction over the system—IT or security? As more organizations adopt IP-based security technologies, security professionals will naturally integrate with the IT department. Security professionals need to be prepared to integrate with other non-security departments within an organization, as well as build a solid partnership with the IT department. The reliability of their network may depend upon it.


Wireless mobility comes on strong

With the cost of wireless going down and the security and reliability of wireless going up, the security industry is experiencing a surge in the demand for wireless IP-based security solutions[1], and this trend will continue throughout 2012. The explosive daily use of smartphones and tablet devices is also contributing to increased confidence in the reliability and security of wireless networks. Even mission critical systems, such as healthcare technology patient monitoring devices are relying on wireless technologies, which subsequently continue to boost the overall reputation of wireless networks for other industries with mission critical technologies, including security.

Mobility will continue to be a driving force in the security industry in 2012 and beyond as more security professionals discover the benefits of connecting remotely to secure virtual private networks to monitor video, manage card access and control locks in real-time, as well as access archived information on-demand. However, more access means more data is being pulled from the data center. As a result, the proliferation of managing security systems from portable devices will change the way we build, manage and maintain network infrastructures and wireless systems. Today’s network infrastructures must be built with an eye toward the future to anticipate the ongoing quest for more bandwidth. Networks must be prepared for the imminent influx mobile-data traffic generated by mobile devices.


Higher bandwidth applications

Although networks will continue to become more capable of transmitting larger amounts of data, the resolution of security cameras is improving at a rapid pace as well. As the resolution of video increases over the next year and beyond, the performance of network infrastructure cabling will have to keep up to provide enough throughput capacity to handle high definition surveillance video. The growth of megapixel IP-based video surveillance cameras and high definition video is a main contributing factor to the need for robust cabling infrastructures to support increasing bandwidth usage.

With the speed at which bandwidth requirements have advanced, it is inevitable that the bandwidth provided by Category 5e will be exceeded in the very near future, making it an obsolete technology. In fact, Category 5e cables may no longer be recognized as a standard for horizontal cabling if proposed recommendations are approved for the Telecommunications Industry Association TIA-942-A Standard, which is expected to be finalized in 2012[2]. If approved, the revised standard will no longer recognize Category 3 and Category 5e as a standard for horizontal cabling. Instead TIA-942-A will recognize Category 6 and Category 6a balanced twisted-pair cable types for horizontal cabling. This means that many current systems will not be equipped to handle the bandwidth required for advanced security and surveillance systems.

Currently, Category 6 and Category 6a cables are the recommended standard, but fiber optic systems show the most potential for providing enough bandwidth and reliability at a low enough cost to meet bandwidth demands for the next decade, especially as the use of video increases. Fiber optic cables, which transmit larger amounts of data at higher speeds over greater distances using fewer cables than copper cables, provide an option to help end users balance the increasing need for speed and high-volume data transfer with the cost of technology. Fiber optic cables also mean less power consumption for the IT network, which equates to lower power consumption and overall energy and operating costs.


Data center density challenges

One challenge that will remain throughout 2012 and possibly beyond is mastering data center density. As mobile devices, video and other high bandwidth applications tax current network infrastructures, organizations have to find new ways to increase data center capacity within existing data center spaces. Data center capacity directly impacts surveillance systems housed on the enterprise-wide network infrastructure, as systems with a video component can be viewed as a threat to network bandwidth and storage capability.

Numerous inefficiencies are limiting the performance of many of today’s data centers. For instance, x86 servers on average are running at only 12 percent utilization. Racks are often populated to just 50 to 60 percent capacity. Data center equipment is spread out to diffuse heat[3]. In order to extract more performance per square foot, the trend toward higher density cabinets and racks will continue to grow throughout 2012. In the coming year, organizations with multiple facilities and separate data centers will be challenged to merge existing data centers into a single, high capacity data center. This may mean that designated data centers for security departments may be merged into a single enterprise data center. For many organizations, data center hardware will also likely be updated with equipment that will provide a higher performance per kilowatt.

According to Gartner, new capacity planning strategies and emerging data center technologies will provide an estimated 300 percent growth in capacity in 60 percent less space than current data centers[4]. However, there will come a point in the near future when the ratio of data center density and cooling costs will become unbalanced. Even some of today’s data center technologies are testing the limits of existing cooling systems. New advancements will have to be made in both sever technologies and cooling systems.

The year 2012 will be a year of change for many security professionals and IT departments alike. As security technologies move from analog technologies to IP-based technologies, security professionals will have to gain a deeper awareness of how the security and surveillance system impacts the overall network infrastructure. The growth of mobile devices accessing data remotely will provide new opportunities, as well as new challenges, for the security industry. Staying ahead of bandwidth needs will become a main priority, especially as the resolution of video continues to improve, and data center efficiency and capacity will be a main driving force behind numerous technology decisions in 2012. Security professionals who have a big picture view of their organization’s overall technology will be a valued asset in 2012 and the years to come.



Bob Eskew, RCDD, is the founder and CEO of Automated Systems Design Inc. (ASD), a manufacturer and service provider of information transport systems. ASD, a five-time Inc. 5000 company, manufactures high-performance iCAT-ITS™ copper offerings, including CAT 5E, CAT 6E, and 10-gigabit CAT 6a cables, as well as iGLO-ITS™ fiber optic products. For details, visit


[1] “Trends in wireless technologies and the emerging PSIM market.” David Sylvester, May 10, 2011.

[2] “TIA-942A data center cabling standard to recommend OM4 fiber.” Cabling Installation & Maintenance, June 28, 2011.

[3] “Gartner Says Efficient Data Center Design Can Lead to 300 Percent Capacity Growth in 60 Percent Less Space.” Gartner, November 18, 2010.

[4] “Gartner Says Efficient Data Center Design Can Lead to 300 Percent Capacity Growth in 60 Percent Less Space.” Gartner, November 18, 2010.