Convergence: Catch the Fever

Three or four years ago, security convergence was an ambiguous catch-all term. Heck, when ST&D began writing about it in 2002, we were lucky to find anyone brave enough to tackle the subject. Now convergence is one of the hottest topics in the security world. A plethora of seminars and even a working industry consortium-Open Security Exchange-are dedicated to its study.

Our Ray Bernard has been the guru of convergence since he began writing on the topic for us in 2003. Ray recognized that physical security managers can realize operational efficiencies and even cost savings when they share technology and manpower with the IT security group.

According to a new study released by Steve Hunt and Forrester's research team, the market described as the convergence of physical and logical security is beginning to take off. Forrester expects private-sector spending to top $300 million in 2005, with total spending on convergence projects in the public and private sectors in North America and Europe to exceed $1.1 billion.

Hunt stated that there are quantifiable drivers for this trend, including the consolidation of controls for IT and physical access onto a single credential and into an integrated system. "This new convergence is driven more by the level of attention it is paid by external audits and the attention from the C-level executives. They are finding that it is physical security failures like unauthorized visitors and false IDs that have the potential to compromise their entire corporate enterprise," said Hunt. "The drive to protect the company and to streamline overall operations is what is launching this convergence explosion."

The new study predicts that large-scale convergence projects in North America alone will jump from $36 million this year to $453 million in 2008, and that physical/logical access control project spending will go from $90 million this year to $994 million in 2008. The most prolific spending will be on public-sector border-control projects, which will grow from $500 million to more than $5 billion in the next three years.

Hunt and his team were initially skeptical about these aggressive numbers. "We had the research for this study done in the fall, but we held off publication because I thought the {spending} jumps in the private sector were way too much," Hunt said. "But we went back and called people, companies and investment firms. And in fact we found out our figures may be a little conservative." If the numbers hold true, we are looking at the beginning of a true technology revolution. The question now is, who will lead the charge: our traditional players, or infiltrators from the computer industry? Place your bets.

If you have any questions or comments for Steve Lasky regarding this issue or any other, please e-mail him at