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...


Prokupets: IT has been taking a very active role even a proactive one. IT people are principally leading the discussions surrounding security system purchases. They are defining the standards and rules regarding which technologies can be introduced into the corporate infrastructure. The IT department is demanding that security systems be open architecture and corporate standards-compliant, so that such systems can be integrated with existing IT applications and properly supported.

Zivney: Generally, they provide the infrastructure and leave the application expertise to the facilities or security department. They can be friend or foe based on how well we follow their rules and how early we bring them into the process. Obviously, they can reduce the total installed cost because they have a pipe already installed between point A and point B. They also have access to incremental budget dollars, which can be pooled with the security budget to do more with less.

Nilsson: In most cases, IT departments are very active in the procurement process, and in many cases the IT department is driving the process. The main driving factor for making the move to a full IP-based surveillance system is the benefit of having several systems running on the same infrastructure, using the same IP switches and PC servers for video storage and management as for all other IT functions such as e-mail, Web and file servers. Most companies centralize the procurement of IT equipment and standardize on certain brands to keep service costs down.

Lockhart: Depending on the overall impact of the transport and data storage requirements of the system, IT will take a bigger role in the system design and funding. In the case of heavily dispersed remote monitoring and in all cases of IP device purchase and installation, IT will probably take direct control of the project.

Tabib: IT is rapidly replacing the security department in the process of overall design and implementation. One of the main reasons is the fact that security systems are becoming more sophisticated, riding the corporate WAN, and thus necessitate more IT involvement.

ST&D: How commonplace is physical access control systems integration with HR and IS systems provisioning? What factors will accelerate or hinder that trend?

Moss: It's reasonably common in the largest corporations, but not so much elsewhere. Part of the problem is that the enterprise software systems that these corporations rely on are customized during their implementation cycles, so there is no easy way to make an interface that works for all customers. We approach the task of making it easier to exchange data with our systems by supporting open standards such as ODBC and XML. We also export data as CSV files that can be read in Excel or other programs.

Zivney: It is reasonably common now and growing. We see this more frequently when someone is upgrading their existing system and wants to do a one-time import of the existing person and credential databases or reuse existing cards. It is not just HR, but also includes administration as is found on college and university campuses where student enrollment changes perhaps three times a year and involves the dorm, cafeteria management, the student union, computer rooms and labs.

The most significant factor accelerating the trend towards interoperability between the business and building systems in the enterprise is the emergence of standards based on XML and Web services. oBIX (OASIS) is a leader in that effort. BACnet is also developing XML interface standards while simultaneously developing access control protocols to interoperate with HVAC and fire. The DHS is dictating interoperability and demanding standards. SIA is responding aggressively and is now developing new industry standards for interoperability.