Access control used to be about hardware and security. But many integrators today find Information Technology (IT) people more involved in the buying and installation decisions. SD&I asked several key industry players their experiences.
Q. Are you increasingly working with the IT department or IT manager at an access control job?
Tom Clancy, president, Acree Daily Integrated Systems Columbus, Ohio: We are absolutely working with the IT department for access control and many other technologies that we install, including CCTV, asset tracking, paging, emergency notification and others. Most of our current systems are designed as IP deployments and coexist on clients' data networks. Those networks are typically owned and managed by IT.
Steven Citron, product line manager, IEI/Linear LLC, Carlsbad, Calif.: This product category is definitely moving out of the facility maintenance department and into IT. As an access systems manufacturer, we've noted a significant increase in the overall involvement of IT personnel in the system specification and selection process. This is a natural migration since more and more access systems are being tied into computer networks.
Joseph Staehly, chief technology officer, MicroTech, Vienna, Va.: Yes, we see more integration and contact due to the convergence of networks to IP. Security is no longer running the cameras on a closed system. Convergence to IP is driving communications to the IT department. Add to that the trend to cloud computing and unified networking.
Mike Bradley, president, Safeguard Security and Communications, Scottsdale, Ariz.: IT is not necessarily the sole contact but we increasingly see the IT managers involved in system design and deployment-not just for access control but also IP camera solutions. The bottom line is, if our equipment is going to reside on the network, the IT department needs and expects to be involved.
Sam Rogers, owner and president, Silent Partner Security Systems Inc., Marshall, Va.: Originally, our point of contact for access control was a facilities or security person responsible for securing the perimeter of the building. Access control systems were somewhat basic and did not require integration with the IT infrastructure. In a post-911 environment the onus has shifted to a network centric system that incorporates many systems that require both physical and logical access. In order to be compliant with all the new federal regulations, the IT manager has become a vital member of the team.
Q. How can a systems integrator be prepared to work with IT?
Clancy: We must be conversant in the network issues that we will need to prepare the client's IT department to support. We must be a trusted partner to the IT department and assist them through engineering, training, support and maintenance just as they receive on any IT product. Prior to a few years ago, the systems we deployed were typically closed and isolated. Not so today. Our knowledge and skill sets have had to change. Our engineers, project managers and technicians are trained on Microsoft, Cisco, etc, as well as being trained on application products.
Bradley: Most security products are now IT-centric, so as an integrator we must be IT-centric as well. We have a responsibility to fully understand the impact of our technology on the network, things like bandwidth, quality of service, storage, retrieval, data processing power, IP address allocation and firewalls have become part of our everyday language. To perform a successful application, we must have the trust and coordination of the IT department. To build trust we must speak their language and understand and have answers for their concerns.