A New Market Opportunity: Are You Moving Forward?

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

The physical security integrator is experiencing a market that is entering the second phase of convergence: software integration and custom development. Convergence follows established patterns pioneered by the IT industry. Declining hardware margins are a fact of life for integrators, and smart business people are positioning now for changing markets. The market is moving aggressively toward open standards, interoperability and integrated multi-vendor solutions. Leading edge integrators accept that “change” involves a cultural shift in thinking, since many times the innovative software partner will be a startup company who saw the trend several years before the market.

A new market segment labeled PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) has evolved. The Security Dreamer Web blog (www.securitydreamer.com) defines PSIM as, “Technologies and processes to collect, understand and respond to data relevant for security. Products in this category variously offer aggregation, visualization, system control, incident response and reporting.” The author of the site is Steve Hunt, CEO of 4A International, who also sees the existing market for physical security software as a $5 billion opportunity, ready to grow by 15 percent annually. This segment will not only redirect these dollars, but also substantially add to them. Enterprise security policy over IT infrastructure opens entirely new opportunities for the traditional physical security integrators, and their future is software based.

Several new companies are taking advantage of the PSIM opportunity with platforms that leverage these trends. They are worth serious investigation.

Quantum Secure ( www.quantumsecure.com) has a suite of products positioned to bridge the gap from IT applications and processes to physical security applications and processes. Its SAFE product suite enables organizations to orchestrate its worldwide physical security from a single Web console, providing a risk management view of operational vulnerabilities.

As director of strategic sales, Laurie Aaron oversees the company's business development and sales efforts. According to Aaron, “The ability to successfully deploy this type of solution requires an in-depth knowledge of information technology workflow, database administration and Internet protocols. Additionally, understanding physical access control system architectures (as they are all different), physical access privilege hierarchy and the nomenclature (again all different) and common policies and procedures as they pertain to protecting both human and informational assets, are key areas.”

The VidSys Web site (www.vidsys.com) details t heir VidShield platform which is based on an open, hybrid architecture that integrates data from any video source, as well as any detection, monitoring or control system, allowing public safety and security personnel to focus on awareness, assessment and action. Tony Lapolito, VP marketing, comes to VidSys from Cisco Systems where he led the marketing team that was responsible for application and content networking, which included IP and security strategies. He describes the importance of this new market segment by stating, “ Without a Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) platform, companies can't achieve true convergence of physical and IT assets. Supporting the migration of analog to digital video, and improving management and analysis of data being created by disparate systems and technologies are what operations centers rely on to ensure public safety.” VidSys provides a routing engine with the ability to interconnect siloed systems on different physical networks at the application layer to create a single logical network managed with a common user interface.

CNL ( www.cnluk.com) represents the international nature of this market segment. CNL is recognized as a leading U.K. provider of integrated IP security solutions. In fact, SecurityWorld International magazine identified CNL as one of the 24 best security companies worldwide. With a 6-year history as a security integrator, CNL leveraged its experience with many of the most popular physical security products and application vendor API’s to create its IPsecuritycenter platform targeted at enterprises interested in deploying holistic solutions. Keith Bloodworth, CNL CEO & founder, is no stranger to anticipating market trends. He started industry giant Axis Communications around his kitchen table in the mid 1980’s, as well as numerous subsequent successful software start-ups. “Our insight into this market opportunity derived from having over 400 customer installations as a physical security integrator delivering leading-edge solutions. We understand the market trends and requirements from both the end-user and integrator perspectives. Our product is the result of input from both of these constituencies.”

Another firm that actually complements the above vendors is Codebench (www.codebench.com ), a developer of security software integration solutions, and a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) serving the Fortune 500, academic and government markets.  Bob Fontana, president, advises security integrators on the importance of working with IT. “When contemplating implementing a middleware solution, fully investigate the technical requirements with IT professionals. Don’t underestimate the complexity of the software design and the time requirement. In selecting a middleware developer, ensure the vendor has a proper software development process and provides essential documentation, so the software can be supported.”

Security consulting guru Ray Bernard ( www.go-rbcs.com ) sees the big picture. “I'd rather see the products identified as management tools for security operations and response, and keep the word “physical” out of it. Security managers need to view their technology from the perspective of being the managers of a business function, and identify what the technology does for their operations. It’s a market desperate for tools that help get a handle on security management and operations. Tools do exist, but the channels through which they are being pushed aren't effective in educating and reaching the customers.”

As always, the key is in education and execution. How good is your sales and support team? Are you moving forward? The market is not waiting for you.