Embrace an IT Partnership

July 14, 2015
Seven ways integrators can save time and money with an IT-friendly security approach

More than ever, involving the IT department in physical security is essential. It has become commonplace for security system integrators to regularly engage both the security and IT departments of clients when deploying new IP-based security systems.

In a best case scenario, IT is involved from the start when selecting an IP-based security system, and then during deployment, overseeing the servers and workstations and maintaining the software. Like other network-based applications, their expertise and time are invaluable in ensuring that the new networked security solution has been implemented and is being managed in accordance with corporate IT policies so that business continues to run without interruption.

Organizations want to ensure that IT resources are being effectively allocated across all their operations — now including IP security. This is a key selling point that integrators can use when proposing new IP security solutions. After all, while companies recognize the advantages of network security systems to achieve greater scalability, flexibility in system design, shorter response times and mobile connectivity, concerns about overextending IT resources or incurring additional costs due to inefficiencies are omnipresent. These and other concerns contribute to why organizations seek solutions that cater to lessening the burden on their IT departments and why a growing number of solution providers have focused their development efforts on features that help IT departments streamline processes involving IP security system deployment and maintenance.

By shifting IT costs away from security-related tasks, IT departments can focus their attention on other more profit-centric applications and areas of business, increasing an organization’s bottom line.

Seven Ways Integrators can Help IT Departments

As more systems are being added to the network, and IT resources and budgets continue to be strained by their demands, more efficient solutions are required. Leveraging the latest advancements in IP security and cloud-based technologies can help IT departments streamline their workloads, allowing them to do more in less time. This ensures that one of your client’s most valuable assets is being used efficiently, which positively impacts operational margins, and ultimately, the company’s bottom line.

When it comes to deploying and maintaining a new IP-based security system such as video surveillance or access control, some of the latest advancements can help IT teams get their jobs done faster — lowering overall spend. Here are a few trends and features that are helping IT minimize the time they spend on security.

1. Standardizing on Network Security Appliances: There are numerous ways in which IP security systems have evolved to simplify the responsibilities of IT, and they start right at the server. IT has stringent requirements for selecting and implementing the hardware servers that will host and run approved applications, and IP security systems are not an exception. When new IP-based security systems are implemented, specifying the servers and having them approved can take time, especially in larger organizations. Instead, network security appliances with pre-loaded security software can help eliminate some of the delay. Organizations can choose to standardize on a specific networked security appliance or a series of appliances. Once the company standardizes on this device, all the IT department has to do is add new appliances to the network as needed to expand the security system. There is no red tape to get through or extended delays in getting more cameras or door controllers online. Since the devices come pre-loaded with the IP security system, the organization can also forgo the additional man hours required to install software.  

2. Unified IP Security Appliances: There are additional benefits to standardizing on appliances that include networked IP security systems beyond video surveillance. For example, a unified security appliance that comes pre-installed with both video surveillance and access control software means the time and resource savings are multiplied — enabling IT departments to deploy several security systems with a single appliance. The more security systems a unified appliance supports, the less time IT will require in getting everything up and running.

3. Web Applications: Savings can be incurred by leveraging IP security solutions that support web applications (or clients) that require less IT involvement. Web applications provide operators with basic day-to-day functionalities such as live monitoring of video, reviewing recorded video, managing cardholders, or generating access control reports by using the most popular web browsers. Also known as a “thin client,” web apps can greatly simplify deployment and minimize IT resources since software does not need to be downloaded and installed on operator workstations. This extends to updates as well.

4. Bandwidth Management and Archiving: One of the biggest concerns for IT is how an IP security system will affect the network’s bandwidth and available storage. Simply put, if the IT team is consumed with trying to find solutions to minimize the impact of a new IP video surveillance system on the corporate network, then they have less time for other tasks. To avoid this, organizations can choose an IP security system with features that automatically adjust its impact on the network and its footprint.

One such feature is support for Multicast transmission, which allows multiple users to connect to a single video stream when they are all viewing the same camera. This is more efficient than Unicast transmission, which sends out a single stream for every user. Other features include optimized video routing, which ensures that the most efficient route between cameras and client workstations is determined; and dynamic stream selection, which enables the system to automatically switch the stream from megapixel to low resolution, or vice versa, depending on the size of the viewing tile.

IT departments are also increasingly being tasked with transferring archived video to longer-term storage devices as more organizations demand longer video retention periods. In some cases, hours can turn into days for this task alone. Cutting-edge functionality such as automated and dynamic archive transfer can save an organization significant man hours annually.

5. Let the Software Do the Work: Achieving greater levels of automation is a hot topic in any business function, but especially when it comes to maintaining an IP security system. Modern IP security systems provide tools that reduce the number of manual operations needed. Examples include: automated download of new software updates, automatic system updates, automated health monitoring and notifications, automated synchronization with IT Directories and more. These tools help reduce time and attention previously needed for periodic hands-on maintenance and system performance assessments.

Microsoft Active Directory integration is a popular capability that enables multiple departments and systems on the network to automatically share information. Whereas legacy systems typically require IT, HR and other departments to enter an employee’s information multiple times (for every business system that needed the information), automated Active Directory synchronizations ensure the information is entered once and updated across all other systems, including security. Data, such as operator and cardholder login and other information, can be automatically retrieved from the corporate Active Directory server, and seamlessly synchronized to the IP-ready access control and video surveillance systems. When these systems are unified, organizations experience further savings. More importantly, information is always current and up to date, avoiding any potential security breaches such as when an employee is terminated.

6. Streamlining Updates: One of the main advantages of going IP is that organizations can take advantage of frequent software enhancements. IP security systems that offer regular updates and that are easy to upgrade enable organizations to benefit from the latest versions, the newest hardware technology and greater levels of security. To minimize the impact on IT, next-generation network security appliances are able to automatically download new software and upgrades as needed without involving the IT department. The last thing that an organization wants is to have IT explain that they will be upgrading to the latest operating system, only to find out the security system does not support the new platform. An IP security system compatible with the latest operating systems and database technology is a smart long-term investment that will prevent IT headaches as technology evolves.

7. Get Ready to Use the Cloud: While new advancements in IP security are helping IT departments realize significant time and costs savings, cloud-enabled security solutions are set to take these efficiencies to a whole new level. The cloud frees up significant IT resources since there may no longer be a need for local servers or local storage to install and maintain. All updates, patches and regular maintenance activities are handled by a service provider. Furthermore, most cloud providers adhere to stringent security standards to keep their customers protected from threats. While vetting and standardizing on a cloud provider might be part of the IT department’s role moving forward, once a standard is set, their day-to-day involvement can be lessened. The organization itself also benefits from a more manageable recurring monthly cost structure, instead of a lump sum capital expenditure up front.

These and other benefits are increasingly motivating organizations to turn to cloud-based security solutions, regardless of whether they are implementing cloud-only or hybrid security systems. In the case of hybrid cloud systems, organizations have the flexibility to choose which part of their security system remains on-premises and which part is migrated to the cloud. For example, as regulations evolve and longer-term retention is required in certain industries, organizations can opt for cloud-based storage. Cameras, video archiving servers and short-term storage can be located on premises, while older recorded video can be automatically moved to the cloud on a periodic basis. Since no additional IT servers, storage, or other infrastructure is needed, organizations can expand their video retention capabilities with limited involvement from IT departments. More importantly, they can achieve this at a lower cost and buy additional cloud storage on an as-needed basis.

Jimmy Palatsoukas is Senior Product Marketing Manager for Genetec. To request more info about the company, please visit www.securityinfowatch.com/10213771.