Open platforms and IP drive ISC West announcements

Day 1 of ISC West saw plenty of new IP security solutions rolled out as well as business plans and partnerships formed with an eye on open platforms. Despite the fact that the physical security industry still has a reputation for being "fragmented" and "proprietary," strides are being made to standards and open architectures allowing for vendor interoperability and increased flexibility for end users to design new projects and scale existing ones.

In that theme, HID Global held a press conferences on the first day of the show to announce that the company's Edge access control solutions (an IP-based access control solution that the company first previewed last year) would be incorporated into Lenel's OnGuard 2008 Plus. Denis Hebert, president and CEO, HID Global, and Luis Orbegoso, president, Lenel, made the announcement together on Wednesday afternoon.

"Customers are looking for flexibility," said Lenel's Orbegoso, noting that doors will be controlled at a lower installed cost per door. Orbegoso noted that scalability was part of this initiative, and he noted that HID's Edge products give customers the chance to grow with Lenel as their needs change.

HID's Hebert admitted that he used to think in a more "proprietary" manner when it came to access control, but his thinking has been changing over the years. When asked what specifically got him to change his mind to embrace open platforms, he said that he remembered running into trouble one time trying to sell an access control system that needed to run on a certain type of computer -- and he recounted the frustration that the sale of that access system depended on the end-user adopting one particular type of computer. It was experiences like that, said Hebert, which made him a strong advocate of open standards. "HID believes that open standards are going to become a reality," he said.

When asked if HID and Lenel have any metrics in place to see if this joint venture is on track for success at some point down the line, both Hebert and Orbegoso downplayed metrics at this stage of the partnership. Both said that open platforms is a significant paradigm shift for the entire industry, and they admitted that no one expects it to happen overnight. As for possible future plans, Hebert acknowledged that he could see more partnerships happening in the future much like HID's partnership with Lenel, especially as physical security and IT continue to converge. "In the IT world, everything is about alliances," he said.

I also found many dealers and integrators at the show who said they were mainly interested in IP product offerings. They said that as far as their technology and business education, IP products were what they felt they needed to learn the most about. One integrator I spoke with even went to so far as to say that he wouldn't even look at DVRs anymore. As such, many seminars during this year's ISC West are focused on helping dealers and integrators learn more about their IP products. We're also hearing that companies such as DVTel, Verint, Cernium and others are requiring dealers and integrators receive IP/network training before they're allowed to install their products. The training times offered by vendors seemed to range from 2 to5 days of fairly intensive education.

If day one at ISC West 2008 is at all representative of overall shifts in the security industry, then the trend toward open platform IP security solutions is alive and well.