Pass or fail: The out-of-the-box experience

Part two of the three-part IP Best Practices series (expanded Web version)


Much has been written and said at security conferences, in magazines, and in online forums about network equipment requirements for putting physical security systems onto corporate networks. The majority of the discussions center on security video. This is to be expected, given that networked video has higher bandwidth requirements than all of the other physical security technologies combined (such as access control, intercom, and intrusion detection monitoring). Other discussions cover related topics like collaborating with IT.

There is very discussion about the wider scope of best practices for deploying physical security technology on enterprise networks. Such practices are needed because many security devices and systems were designed on the assumption that the equipment would be deployed on a completely independent security network rather than in an enterprise network environment.

In many organizations, fully independent networks for security systems require a level of duplication and cost that, at least for some systems and technologies, would be not only unwanted but needless. For organizations with enterprise-wide networking in place, an infrastructure exists to make security information and control available at all points in the organization where that makes sense for security, safety or business operational purposes.

Thus the authors have formed the Bp.IP Initiative, to advance best practices for deploying IP based security systems in enterprise environments, including practices that compensate or work around the network environment shortcomings of the spectrum of security products currently available.

Best Practices and Standards

When it comes to placing physical security systems onto an enterprise network, what defines best practice? Ultimately, best practices should result in better-than-otherwise performance; cost; compliance with standards; compatibility with existing network equipment and devices; and level of effort to deploy.

Standardization covers people, process and technology aspects of computing systems and networks. In the IT world, there are best practices that cover software design, development, deployment, maintenance, and administration-including testing and validation. Specific standards exist for computing and network devices, and for the security of networks and applications. Standards abound for telecommunications and network infrastructure.

IT practitioners learned long ago that standards and best practices allow them to deploy and manage very large and complex networks across geographic as well as language and cultural boundaries with these results:

- Highest quality, reliability and performance
- Lowest cost to deploy and maintain
- High scalability and adaptability
- Compatibility and interoperability among different brands
- Overall infrastructure that can evolve as areas of technology advance
- Stability even while undergoing improvements and upgrades
- Highest achievable ROI for money invested

When deploying physical security systems on an enterprise network, failing to follow applicable IT standards and good practices not only means walking away from many of these benefits, it can also mean introducing problems that raise network management costs and even interfere with other systems.

Why Best Practices are Needed

When putting security systems and equipment onto an enterprise network, best practices are needed to:

- prevent the systems and equipment from interfering with other systems;
- isolate what would appear to be "network attack behavior" from network segments that are monitored to catch and stop it;
- enable security networks, security systems and devices to benefit from existing network scan and monitoring programs;
- facilitate troubleshooting in the enterprise environment; and
- facilitate support from IT to leverage the organization's existing investment in IT resources (including expertise) as well as to reduce response and recovery time.

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