Talk about being a stranger in a strange land. As I walked the aisles of the massive Interop conference earlier this month in Las Vegas, it really drove home the fact that the security environment many of us grew up with over the last two decades has moved to a different level, and it is not coming back.
In many respects, the vendors that I passed were extremely familiar given their gaudy booths, drop-your-card-in-the-fishbowl giveaways and the standard Vegas showgirls luring you into voice range.
But when I entered the world of Interop, a conference attended by more than 20,000 IT professionals, it was a new world of business technology. Sure, security is certainly a part of that equation, but the bigger picture on display from the more than 500 exhibitors highlighted storage, network applications, virtualization solutions, identity and access management, open source issues and yes — convergence.
“Why are we here? It is the recognition that there is a new base of potential customers looking for solutions just like their physical security counter parts. IT (managers) is more involved in the decision-making process when it comes to devices to be deployed on the network,” Bob Beliles of Hirsch Electronics told me from his booth at the show. And who would know better than Beliles, who spent years at CISCO before coming into the physical security sector. “We want to get people thinking about the enterprise and solving business-driven issues. We see more emphasis put on the functionality of access control as a policy driver for both logical and physical solutions. We see the gears clicking when we talk to a CISO. They understand.”
Jeff DeCocq, manager of large systems sales for Pelco, looked to be in his element as he stood in the APC booth explaining the virtues of IP video to a pair of attentive network managers from a large Midwest corporation who were now having to grapple with bandwidth management and Power over Ethernet issues for their company.
“There is certainly not a huge perception of what Pelco is all about here, but when you begin to talk you see there is a connection,” said DeCocq, who was representing Pelco at the APC booth, which is parent company Schneider Electric’s critical power and cooling division. “The Schneider vision is the smart building and looking at all the sub-components that go into an integrated business solution — security, HVAC and power conditioning. The people we are talking to here are looking to realize the synergies.”
Compliance and regulatory mandates are factors Jennifer Cline, Corning Cable’s market manager for data centers, sees impacting some of the end-users she has met at the event. “The requirements in the data centers go beyond just managing cable infrastructure, especially with the proliferation of high-density switchers. Listening to our customers at events like this help us optimize solutions for the technology issues they face.”
If there was one constant underlining theme of the conference, it was protecting the integrity of the business network. For CISOs, network managers, and systems operators, security played big. One noted speaker warned that there needs to be a healthy level of skepticism about what security vendors are trying to tell and sell you: “The goal of the security vendor is not to secure, it’s to make money,” said Joshua Corman, a security strategist for IBM/ISS.
After hearing his comments I felt more grounded. I suppose things haven’t changed that much after all.
If you have any questions or comments for Steve Lasky regarding this or any other security industry-related issue, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.