UTC defines its roadmap for enterprise security management

Following acquisition of GE Security, a merged R&D and a streamlining of offerings

Similar to FC Wnx and OnGuard in that it can serve very large customers if needed is the Picture Perfect platform, which is a solution that came over with GE. Picture Perfect integrates security management, access and video in one platform, much like FC Wnx and OnGuard, but it was unlike anything in the UTC/Lenel line-up, chiefly because it was available in two versions: one to run on UNIX servers and another to run on Linux servers. The company says Picture Perfect is poised to serve both mid-market and top-market customers who use Linux or UNIX.

While Windows server clearly dominate the computing industry, Boriskin noted that 21 percent of new server sales are Linux servers and that some businesses and industries use IT infrastructure that is almost exclusively Linux. That sort of environment, he said, is often found in banking and telecommunications industries, and having a Linux/UNIX offering now allows UTC to court those customers without having to suggest that they maintain a Windows server environment just to run their security platform.

Also in the mix is Director, which Boriskin describes as an intrusion-oriented access control solution that can scale up to about 512 reader points. Director links products that were primarily being used in GE’s overseas markets.

At the lower level of the enterprise type of customer, Boriskin notes they’re working on a new solution. He added that while the forthcoming product will fit a key part of the enterprise market, the company was not ready to announce it just yet.

Giving clear focus to the different offerings in their quiver of enterprise security management products will help sales, said Boriskin. Customers have specific needs, so the company needed this full product grouping to serve them all. “Some customers want customization and openness. Some are very much just looking for a single vendor and will use a single product line. Others are anti-Windows which is why we have a Linux product.”

Matching GE efforts with UTC goals

According to Ken Francis, the former general manager at GE Security and now the head of marketing for UTC Fire & Security’s global security products unit, the strategy for enterprise security management products at UTC Fire & Security matches well with the efforts that had already begun inside GE Security before the acquisition. A streamlining, he said, had largely occurred before the acquisition. Francis and Boriskin noted that the company had created transition strategies for many security management/access control products that the industry knew well, including Diamond and Sapphire (which both had been transitioned into FC Wnx).

Over the years, they said, GE had developed a high number of similar but different security management programs. The development of those product lines, some of which were almost entirely unknown in the United States, had occurred because of the global nature of GE's security business. While the upside was that the company had specialized product versions specific to niche markets and niche regions of the world, the downside was that the company had effectively created more product lines than could be reasonably supported, especially more than could be supported in a post-acquisition company.

Planning ahead to avoid the support challenge, the company had quietly created transitions from a number of the legacy systems to other systems (like FC Wnx and Director) that would continue to be developed in the future.

Today, says Ken Francis, the company has roughly 10 different access control products in its offering. Two years ago, he noted, there would have been another seven products – and each would have had a different product roadmap. Going forward, Boriskin noted, there may be further product transitions.

Aligning R&D and the Channel

That effort to slim the product line, said Francis, fit extremely well when GE Security was acquired by UTC for its Fire & Security division. Along with the merger of sales organizations and the channel, R&D departments had to be integrated. Surprisingly, said Mike Regelski, the UTC Fire & Security CTO who oversees engineering for the global security products, there wasn't a great deal of overlap in the two R&D departments that had to be merged, which meant easier integration. And with the plan to streamline the key security management systems, the converged R&D team was focused on supporting and designing the next generation platforms only, rather than being tied down to niche legacy systems that had little future.