The New Breed of Security Integrator
Part I: The Integrator and the Installer

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

I gave a presentation at the TECHSEC show in Savannah, Ga., last week with the above title. Techsec is in its second year and is an outstanding show for security vendors, solution providers, and channel partners interested in the convergence of physical security products across IP networks.

One point I wanted this audience to understand is that there is a communication disconnect as to what an "integrator" actually does when comparing the physical security and IT industries. I made the following statement, somewhat in jest, but to the stress this point: "I recently had Comcast cable out to my home to connect my new HDTV, but I don't consider them a system integrator, I consider them an installer"

Some folks in the physical security market will remain installers until they embrace IT standards and understand that the world runs mission critical applications every day on IP networks. Think in terms of trillions of financial transactions daily, global supply chain networks, and your corporate e-mail systems. IP is a mature and secure technology.

I do not mean to knock installers. Some of these businesses are very profitable and have been for a long time. After all, they are addressing a market need today. But at the end of the day, if you are making high margins pulling coax cable and attaching video end points, you might not be a serious high technology integrator. Over time, the fact is that you service a mature and declining market. I think it might make good business sense for some of these physical security "integrators" to embrace IT standards and learn IP networking. The future is here.

The above statement is especially true in a new era of competition in the security convergence space from traditional it vendors. Just as the integrator model is experiencing shifting technical skill sets, so is the competitive sales landscape.
The point here is that the competition you don't see is whom you have to worry about.

If you need a recent example think about Apple and Sony. The engineers and executives at Sony are not stupid people, yet in only 18 months the Apple iPod took over 40 percent of Sony's handheld music market. Sony was looking at traditional competitors when the real threat came out of left field. It was a pure IP play, and it hit the market in months, not years. That is the power of IP networking leveraged with a convergence business model. If you think the physical security market is immune, or this will take five years before the it vendors take your market share, think again. Ask Sony about IP. You may notice they are more aggressive lately in the IP video market.

Read Part II: Understanding IT History in the next issue of Today's Systems Integrator