For years we’ve been hearing about convergence and the changing landscape of physical security installations. At first it might have seemed futuristic or limited to a small portion of the market, but now the idea of physical security systems being implemented across Internet protocol (IP) networks is far more than an idea. It’s a reality that has permeated the market and is here to stay.
Today’s security dealers and integrators are already adapting, either by learning about IP-based systems and devices, or by partnering with those who know. But naturally the convergence of these two worlds—on one side the traditional installers of physical security, and on the other side the traditional information technology (IT) departments who manage computer networks—has led many to wonder whether this business relationship is cooperative or competitive. The truth, it seems, lies somewhere in the middle.
To complicate matters further, not only are the roles of the traditional security dealer changing, but what they call themselves seems to be evolving as well. Increasing numbers of dealers now consider themselves integrators; and as the IT side gains more influence, another term which is more common on the IT side is now showing up among security installers: value-added reseller (VAR).
To get a better handle on what’s happening today with the increasing influence of IP networks on physical security installations, Security Dealer & Integrator spoke with Cisco, Lenel and some integrators from different parts of the country.
How are security installations changing?
“Simply put, the biggest change is with information and IP-centered systems,” said Josh Phillips, director of Marketing, Lenel, Pittsford, N.Y. “Security integrators are becoming increasingly focused on how the systems layer into the network environment and the considerations that accompany the deployment of systems with assistance from IT. More IP devices are going to market being purpose-built for security. That says a lot about the adoption of IP. More and more customers are seeking sophisticated software applications that address their unique business needs. Properly leveraging technology to address those needs is paramount to achieving a successful installation, because often it’s not as much about the hardware as it is about the software.”
Kelly Carlberg, worldwide business development manager, Emerging Technologies, Cisco, San Jose, Calif., prefers the term “implemented” to “installed” when it comes to physical security these days. “Video surveillance and access control used to be installed. Today we are implementing solutions,” he explained. “Sleight of hand or a real difference in real practice? We see physical security as information that can be shared between multiple applications across a network. The real difference is how we use the information. We want to leverage this information to make HR, IT, Operations and business decisions in real time. A door opening is used for more then an alarm contact. This has changed how ‘physical security’ is installed.”
Mark Fischer, vice president and chief technology officer, NationWide Digital Monitoring Co., Freeport, N.Y., agreed that many security applications also are being utilized as management tools via the network. He has noticed the biggest changes in security installations within the past year or two as Voice over IP (VoIP) has become increasingly popular and manufacturers have come up with IP solutions for the AMPS Sunset Clause. “Up until then there were Internet products available and DVR’s that were on the Internet, but within these past 18 months there seems to be a dramatic change.”
Jason Stoddard, camera/access department manager, Alarm Detection Systems Inc., Aurora, Ill., noted that he’s seeing many security installations planned around a building’s network closets such as MDF (main distribution frame) and IDF (intermediate distribution frame) rooms. “Since the majority of our equipment ends up connected to the network anyway, it makes a lot of sense to locate it in these rooms which are generally secure and temperature controlled,” he said. “We’re also seeing a shift towards PoE (Power over Ethernet)-enabled and ‘edge’ type devices which really simplify wiring. Twisted pair wiring (CAT6) is beginning to be a possibility for more and more systems.”