Publisher's Viewpoint

Oct. 27, 2008
Microsoft On Convergence

DURING A RECENT coffee break with Jeff Spivey, CPP, PSP, director of Security Risk Management, Charlotte , N.C. , we started talking about Internet protocol (IP) security and its impact on corporate America . After sipping lattes and kicking around some futuristic ideas, Spivey, a past president of ASIS International, suggested SD& I   reach out to Johnny Walker, CPP, senior program manager of Microsoft Global Security, Redmond , Wash. , for an inside look at how one of the world's most successful companies is handling convergence of physical security and information technologies.

Harlick: What are your challenges working with security integrators?

Walker : Security integrators and Value-Added Resellers (VARs) are still a few years behind today's IT departments and their needs. My advice to them would be to avoid complacency; don't wait for me to tell you what I need. Think about what I need and how I'm going to use it several years in advance.

What we look for when choosing a partner includes their scope of coverage, predictability and consistency in delivery. All systems integrators are only as good as their local support. At Microsoft, we have developed an award-winning manual that guides our global integrators for a consistent outcome. Once a year, we invite select integrators certified on the products we use to a conference where they are fully briefed on our requirements. Upon completion, they become qualified to compete for our business.

Harlick: What are you looking for from security product manufacturers?

Walker : The products coming from manufacturers and brought to us by our integrators' need to drive costs down as well as deliver the features we want and need. Manufacturers need to bring smarter products to enterprise environments. We as end users need to see more entrepreneurial efforts and risk put forth by manufacturers and integrators.

In terms of deployed video products, the environment is too dynamic to become unnecessarily tied to proprietary technologies. This burdens the development process and tends to increase costs. Driving common standards and interoperability increases competition for improved performance and controls costs. Manufacturers should be considering smarter edge devices that reduce the need for in-line hardware and plays well with strong horizontal monitoring applications.

Harlick: How are you handling the transition from analog to IP cameras?

Walker : Microsoft has more than 6,000 analog cameras in our enterprise and we've not yet made the leap to a full IP infrastructure.   The costs of migration are still significant and we remain concerned about common video standards and impact on bandwidth. We are setting up an IP-ready framework that will allow us to transition at a methodical pace.

Harlick: How else will IP impact physical security?

Walker : As one example, I am working directly with ASSA ABLOY USA to develop smarter door systems, not just single edge devices. With 9,000 monitored doors, we need more precise differentiation in the signal traffic. Is a forced door alarm an impact, penetration, key bypass, maintenance concern or something else? Manufacturers need to begin pushing analytics to edge systems where event driven rules can result in more immediate and precise response. As we move more toward networked systems, the sophistication of the integrator needs to keep pace. They should understand and anticipate the decision-making process and move ahead of the curve. IP is a catalyst for convergence that they should master.

Peter D. Harlick