Security is Bigger Than Convergence and Software is the Future

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

I recently finished co-authoring a book titled “Physical and Logical Security Convergence” available on Amazon (www.amazon.com ) and next month in select Barnes & Noble bookstores. My co-authors were Bill Crowell, former deputy director of the NSA, and Brian Contos (CSO) and Colby DeRolff of ArcSight, a developer of enterprise management software. The book covers both the business perspectives and technical issues of a security industry in transition.

Interest in the book and the topic are running high. This subject is generating a large amount of momentum in the press, and is a subject for numerous seminars and trade shows events. However, “convergence” is only a small part of a larger shift in the traditional security industry. The convergence of physical and logical security systems within a global IT infrastructure allows security solutions to be deployed rapidly and globally. Convergence is essentially the delivery vehicle for security policy across the internal enterprise and extending outward to the partner and supplier channels. Security convergence creates security visibility and allows “interoperability” across the business to manage increasing levels of risk.

The larger issue is that risk management is changing the face of a new generation of security professional to one who embraces, understands and protects overall business operations and aligns security within the IT infrastructure. The ability to execute this strategy not only improves security by better protecting physical, electronic and human assets, but leverages R.O.I. (Return on Investment) models. The key focus is interoperability of systems, both existing legacy environments and new solutions. This fact is influencing how these next generation security professionals are evaluating systems integrators.

For a physical security integrator to be effective, they must master multi-vendor software integration deployments. The reality is that security hardware will become the last item to be considered in the buying process, after the software and the integrator. (This follows the historic IT model.) We are witnessing these trends today as surveillance cameras incorporate intelligent analytics at the edge, storage servers utilize virtualization to segment workloads and IP networks become more predictive in securing data. Next generation security software will be embedded in the network fabric like a security toll tag to grant access to applications, CPU and data storage.

The “Digital Age” provides extremely fast software development and immediate global deployments. If you do not understand and prepare for software’s impact on the future of the security industry you might not see this train coming. It will pass that quickly. Think about how a “security software as a service” model could effect competitive positioning. Outsourcing video surveillance (or multiple security applications) to a Cisco or Google may not be that far-fetched, or that far off come to think of it. Why not?

Some leading edge software developers (next generation Lenels) are out there and looking for partnerships with forward thinking integrators: Quantum Secure (www.quantumsecure.com), Orsus (www.orsus.com) and CNL ( www.cnl.com) come immediately to mind. They provide the software development expertise to manage interoperability between multi-vendor security applications and provide a common layer of management for an integrator to work within. My friend Steve Hunt (www.securitydreamer.com ) likes to say, “In four years all the software that the physical security industry uses will be written by the IT companies.” I think he is spot-on. In fact if you look closely, many of these new physical security software companies are the result of founders and developers with IT backgrounds.

The ability for today’s systems integrators to provide solutions which allow for the interoperability of multi-vendor security products like video surveillance, access control and command center management will be in demand for many years to come. It will be a requirement across the global supply chain for companies of all sizes and geographic locations. Digital networks promote interoperability. Today the major software companies run the corporate IT departments, not the hardware vendors. The playing field has reversed course from when I started selling 20 plus years ago. Moving forward, “security” will be everywhere and software will be the driver across global IP networks.

Are you ready to get your business on board the software trend?

Good luck.