Working with IT on IP

Tips to ensure your new technology implementations go smoothly

“They’re so hard to work with!”
“It’s like they’re speaking a foreign language.”
“I want to work with them, but I just
don’t know how.”

“When I talk to them, I just don’t feel
like they’re taking me seriously.”

With the new convergence movement making its way through the security industry, there will probably be a time in the future where you, the security director, will need to work with the corporate IT department to deploy a new security solution. Hopefully, when you think about doing this, none of the thoughts above creep into your mind. But if one or two of them do, this article should help you to become more comfortable dealing with the corporate IT department.

Respecting Both Sides
When people think of an IT department, some stereotypes might come to mind: The young- to middle-aged men with pocket protectors, or maybe well-dressed guys in suits. Either way, you probably see them as people who guard the “mysterious company network” with the fervor of a bodyguard or a bouncer. The network that they are charged with protecting is what’s responsible for your company making money on a day-to-day basis. It could also be responsible for handling payroll, HR, Quality Assurance and Customer Service.
How many of us have been in a store or on the phone with technical support and been frustrated because their “network is down?” Losing business because of network failure is something that is not tolerated by companies or consumers. In this economic climate, not being able to do business because of network issues might mean that your customers will go to your competitors.
Thinking about all the things that could ride on a corporate network, is it really any surprise then, that an IT department would be so protective? Add to that the fact that if something did happen to the network, it would almost certainly be construed as the fault of the IT department — if for no other reason than for the fact that it is their job to manage it.
As a security director, you are undoubtedly aware of some of the new technology available. Whether you look at the access control market, the CCTV market or the intercom market, you will find a variety of devices that reside on a network. Perhaps you are even looking at the security systems in some of your facilities and realize it may be time for an upgrade. You can probably use some of this new technology — but it uses IP as its main form of transport.
That’s right, Internet Protocol. Whether you’re intimately familiar with it, or you’ve just heard about it, it’s obvious that in some way, shape or form, it requires a computer network to function. Thus, the security department must interface with the IT department to get it to function. This might strike fear in your heart, but let’s step back for a moment. The IT department ultimately has many of the same goals that the security director does — safety, security, privacy of information and ensuring that basic, day-to-day activities run smoothly.
If we start from the point of view that the security director and the IT director both have the same core set of desires, they should be able to work together effectively. The security director wants to know as much as possible about the employees and the visitors that populate the facility on a daily basis — those records are kept in access control databases, or perhaps with CCTV. An IT director will do much the same thing, but with a different set of tools. The IT department establishes rules for what activities will be allowed on the network — perhaps surfing the Web from a company computer is allowed, but installing a program is not. Much the same way, security professionals may institute procedures that enable company employees to come and go during business hours, but not during off-hours. Ultimately, both of these examples are procedures that are in place for the protection of the company or the business.

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