Leaders in the Security Convergence: An Exclusive Security Dealer Roundtable

Panelists discuss: How convergence offers the ability to leverage technology for more effective security.

Christian McMillan, director of business development, Fault Tolerant Servers, NEC Corporation of America: As security progresses from an analog to a digital world, the system increases in complexity, but needs to be managed as one entity. Completely separate reporting structures and a lack of overlapping knowledge for physical and IT security staff in many companies will take some effort to overcome, but companies can recognize real benefits by converging IT security with physical security functions. Door to desktop initiatives allow a simplified IT structure, where fault tolerant servers can support the entire system, saving companies money via a streamlined operational process, limited downtime, and reduced IT administration costs. These fault-tolerant, high-availability servers can also support the more complex systems and software necessary to provide better ongoing security as well as after-the-fact detection and assessment of suspicious or malicious activity.

Steve Goldberg, president & CEO, Vidient Systems: It is not uncommon to view Internet technology as a productivity tool. The IT security market is a perfect example of this benefit. As the use of networking and the Internet has grown an individual corporate IT manager could no longer, first hand, track and assess the validity of specific users and/or data traffic. IT security technology, e.g. firewalls, intrusion detection systems, virus detection, and the like, has leveraged the skill of the corporate IT ‘human' resources and provided exponential improvement in data security. In the case of physical security, there is no reason not to expect that technology cannot produce the same productivity gain. Wireless communications, improved video processing and storage, data networking, multifactor access control, and video analytics and content analysis are new technologies ready and waiting to be leveraged in the physical security market. The convergence of IT and physical security is part of a natural consolidation of corporate resources. One security group with a common set of objectives, a centrally managed security infrastructure, and highly leveraged workers brings cost savings and improved security.

Brady: Are there unique problems dealers should be aware of when deploying integrated systems on the network?

Godfrey: Dealers must have an understanding of the overall network design when deploying integrated systems on the network. They need to have a good sense of bandwidth available, existing network security issues, IP addressing schemes, limitations in regards to IP addressing and the number of TCP Ports, any issues with network address translation (NAT), public versus private, and firewalls.

Dealers must also have an understanding of whose network it is. Does security have a dedicated network or are they working off the IT network? Dealers need to know who is responsible for the network, and understand the rules and internal IT polices associated with the network.

Dealers will need to confirm network validation prior to installation. They must ensure the network is adequate to support the security application to be deployed.

Ting: Not all customers are ready for working with a converged solution. This can be due to any number of reasons, ranging from having physical access systems that are not IP capable to having closed solutions that can't be integrated with IT access control systems. There are also IT organizations that are in various states of deploying identity management solutions and are not yet ready to tackle implementing converged solutions.

McMillan: Dealers need to understand that to deploy integrated systems, their workforce needs to be fairly diverse. Integrators should actively recruit employees with knowledge from both worlds in order to offer a comprehensive solution. The more forward thinking security solutions integrators are already educating their staff on the technology side, building expertise in TCP/IP and network administration to round out their offering.

Goldberg: Two historically different groups, IT security and physical security, bring with them years of unique jargon, business methods, personal relationships, and variations of similar technology. Successful integration will require solid early-stage systems engineering where product interfaces, common management tools, shared communication links, and appropriate computer processing resources are all considered prior to actual deployment. Additionally, cross training of management, maintenance, and support staff will be key to a seamless integration.

Brady: Danny Forrest, president of Houston, TX-based, Advantage Security Integration, Ltd, states this month in the “Profile of Proficiency” article that there is a perception problem with the way potential clients view the security industry as just being able to supply one end of the total picture, whereas the IT guys are perceived as being able to do it “all.” Can you comment on that thought and also give Security Dealer readers advice on overcoming this perception?