Considering Convergence

Convergence. It is the term now being applied to myriad changes in the security industry. Is it a buzzword or a paradigm shift? Security has evolved into an enterprise concern that affects the way most institutions view their business. Basic access...

Rudy Prokupets, CTO/EVP of R&D, Lenel Systems International: It hasn't really affected us, because Lenel's entire system architecture has been IP-based from the beginning. The concept of a Total Security Knowledge Management Solution, which we introduced in 1998, has a distributed IP-based architecture. Thousands of corporations and institutions around the world have been using our IP products since then. They've experienced the benefits of implementing IP-based security systems ease of installation, lower total cost of ownership, and the ability to use the existing corporate infrastructure.

Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, Axis Communications: Convergence affects Axis very positively. The company entered the market because of convergence, offering IP-based print servers since 1992 and the world's first IP-enabled network camera in 1996. Since then, Axis has fully focused on true IP-based solutions like the network camera and video server. In the last quarter, 70 percent of Axis' revenue came from network video products, making it our largest and fastest-growing product group.

Anthony Hanseder, VP Product Marketing, HID Corporation: Thus far, the demand for IP-based HID products has been relatively small. We have encountered chatter in the industry about IP-based products and we've seen a number of companies make product announcements, but have not witnessed any mainstream adoption from the major OEM players. The smaller hardware and software startups are doing development; however, it is not clear they will be able to significantly impact adoption. Significant impact in our industry generally comes from the larger OEMs. At HID we always evaluate market trends and review our product and technology development mix to ensure we're aligned with market dynamics.

Donald Taylor, VP Marketing, Dedicated Micros: We see much more interest and demand for managing video over networks. We view this as a significant opportunity for Dedicated Micros.

ST&D: Putting the physical access control system on the business network introduces network security issues for both the access control system and the business network and raises the availability requirements of the business network. Have you encountered any issues or learned any lessons in this?

Moss: This is a real concern in some cases. In many applications for larger companies it's not a problem. They have advanced network gear that can isolate the security equipment from the rest of the network and protect the communications in a way that's transparent to the security system. At S2, though, the products we make are consumed by small companies as well as larger ones. To accommodate the needs of these smaller system users, we are incorporating SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption for our user interface, and SHA-1 authentication for device-to-device communications.

Lockhart:The current enterprise-level networks are some of the most robust and stable transports available, especially when compared to most currently installed proprietary access control systems. If proper IT/IS cyber security policies are included in the original design of the IP-based access systems, there should be no major problems in the implementation. Good working knowledge of these IT cyber security requirements and their use is mandatory for it to succeed.

Prokupets: From the beginning, Lenel's OnGuard security solution was built for use with existing business infrastructures. Of course, we regularly have discussions with IT groups and our customers to ensure that the system is designed for optimal performance and offers the functionality that customers need. A physical access control system's impact on the business network was a relevant issue five or six years ago, but it isn't now. I published a white paper in ST&D back in 1998 in which I noted that properly designed, network-aware security applications should consume only a fraction of the corporate bandwidth. The bandwidth requirement of a security system is negligible with respect to the business network as a whole and has very little impact on performance of business applications. A well-designed security system can function reliably without interfering in mission-critical business applications.