The Integrated Infrastructure: One Vendor, Multiple Partners

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

When it comes to full-scale integration projects, I think large global companies like Cisco Systems have an advantage. The secret is the fact that it can lean on its “premiere” channel partners for expertise and council in large deployments. Make no mistake, Cisco does a great job recruiting and training its channel, but the dividends really kick into gear when these partners are Tier One, self-sustaining businesses. Cisco creates a channel partner network heavy with technical expertise and customer relationships to win the business. It constructs a world-class franchise operation with IP networking as the key ingredient. Pretty soon the Cisco corporate sign will proclaim, “one billion served.” Cisco has a proven integrator model.

One example is Arinc, (www.arinc.com ) a very quiet 1 billion dollar security integrator with a specialty in nuclear plants, transportation infrastructure and government deployments. Arinc actually started operations in 1929 and was funded by 5 major U.S. airports. Just recently, the Carlyle Group announced plans to purchase the operation. The Carlyle Group is where former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner landed upon retirement, along with a number of former U.S. Presidents and high-ranking government power players.

The thing that makes Arinc unique is that it offers one-stop shopping in the design, engineering and deployment of large-scale projects. This includes working with numerous partners such as Cisco, Bosch, Hirsch, Verint, Dell and HP, to name a few. It is certified in all of the products that it sells and supports, which complement some of the software it actually develops internally. Arinc fully tests all system, network and actual component configurations in its labs for customers prior to installation. Arinc understands issues like video surveillance and access control, IP network and server redundancy, storage backup and disaster recovery, and power requirements. It has the system down. It also sees the trends that are changing the market, and embraces them.

Physical security and IT integrators of all sizes can take a page out of the Arinc playbook. According to Frank Koran, business development manager for Arinc Surface Transportation and Security Systems, “We have multiple partners and do whatever the customer needs done to integrate multi-vendor environments. Most importantly, we don’t point fingers. We take responsibility for problem resolution, even when we know it is not our issue.”

This is a key lesson in partnering. The best integrators solve problems – they don’t look for excuses. They manage and value partners and make the investment in their people to get certified on the products. The best integrators are not intimidated by investing in the employee knowledge base, unafraid that educated employees might jump ship. They keep the work challenging. That’s good management.

Arinc does a lot of video surveillance work. As mentioned, it partners with Cisco and is actively working large programs with the Broadware video platform Cisco recently purchased. According to Koran, “ The value statement I see with Cisco and their IP product line is that we can architect, interface, scale and adapt to meet peculiar security requirements. This allows us take control of the IP stream and make it available throughout the enterprise exceeding both physical and IT security expectations.”

Arinc can migrate analog to digital video environments and work with DVR and leading edge NVR vendors, along with server manufacturers. The best network video recorder vendors understand the future is open and interoperable solutions. Rich Anderson, CEO of Phare Consulting, speaking about NVR technology, stated, “ I fully expect to see all of today's closed security applications break apart and make maximum use of this kind of proven, standard technology.” Arinc also understands that the next phase of a trend many times originates with new vendor innovation. Maybe keeping an open mind is a key factor in company longevity. Did I mention 1929?

Arinc will be at the ASIS show in Las Vegas this September. At the show it will host a new vendor in the surveillance storage space. Intransa, (www.intransa.com) is a startup IP storage server company from San Jose, Calif. focused on IP video surveillance storage. Intransa is an interesting, new architecture optimized for video surveillance. Intransa actually got its start in the labs at a networking company, 3Com. It addressed the challenges of network bandwidth expansion first, then designed the storage platform. This architecture actually scales network bandwidth (up to 10GB) and storage expansion simultaneously without bottlenecks. This is the reason it has storage opportunities in China that involve over 100,000 IP cameras. Can you say, “The future is video images over IP to networked storage?” (At least in the large environments…)

According to Bud Broomhead, Intransa CEO, “Not all storage is equal. As the video surveillance application moves into the network the importance of IP-based, security-grade storage is amplified." Industry guru, Steve Hunt of 4A International ( www.securtiydreamer.com) sees the trend; “It is only natural to leverage a network storage architecture that has been fine-tuned by decades of continual improvement in the IT world.”

In review, there are a few good lessons in this example: Successful partnerships invest time and money to get certifications. Good management invests in people and keeps the job interesting. Good integrators take responsibility for customer problems and do not point fingers.

Always be alert to changing trends and embrace new companies and technologies as those trends enter the next phase. Industry trade shows are good venues to explore innovative products and new partners. Lastly, start planning for ASIS today and come away with a new solution partner.

Get partnering and integrate security applications!