In an effort to alleviate these concerns, you are already seeing access control manufacturers offer control panels with an embedded Web server and an on-board operating system. This removes the need for dedicated computers or software and allows the access control system to be managed from anywhere on that network. Some manufacturers have taken this to the next level by developing DHCP-enabled control panels or Power over Ethernet "edge" devices to communicate with a Web-hosted application on outbound ports only, alleviating the need to manage IP addresses or inbound ports, which most IT professionals see as the greatest risk. These new network-friendly access control panels and edge devices can often share information with other business systems-such as HR applications and email servers-to provide real-time updates for logical and physical access privileges, time and attendance, or any number of notifications such as forced or propped doors and automated activity reports. That's access control bridging the security/IT gap.
What Real Convergence Will Look Like
Real convergence means that the security professional knows and understands network infrastructure and communications and is equipped to work with and for the IT professional. It also means the IT professional embraces the use and integration of physical security equipment and systems as important and necessary business tools. As such, the IT professional must work together with the security professional to select equipment that works best on their shared network. For the consultant this means that the design and engineering of network infrastructure must support the additional resource burden required by sharing connectivity, and carefully selecting products that don't create new security risks for either the security or IT professional.
At Securing New Ground, each speaker was asked to conclude his or her presentation with predictions of how the security industry will change. While it is obvious that with each passing day physical security and IT are being forced closer together, the only prediction I can confidently make is that we will soon have another industry buzzword to replace "convergence" in the same way convergence replaced the "integration" buzzword. I can also safely predict that whatever this new buzzword is, there will be a similar period of confusion and disagreement over what the newest buzzword really means.
About the author: Rueben Orr is director of business development for Brivo Systems.