ASIS 2007: The Doctor Was In

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

Last week, I attended the ASIS show in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. This year’s show did not disappoint, and I wanted to share some observations with you on multiple topics.

I had a long discussion with an academic, Dr. Paul Pierce, Ph.D., from Lund University in Sweden. He is conducting a four-year study on trends in security convergence funded by Assa Abloy, Axis Communications and Securitas Systems. I was originally interviewed by him at last year’s ASIS show to kick off the first year of the study.

Upon reconnecting this year, Pierce told me he noticed a measurable momentum in industry partnering activities over the last six months around convergence solutions. Interesting that this discussion occurred in the IBM booth, where Big Blue was demonstrating security middleware from its partner CNL ( and access control solutions from Hirsch Electronics (

Speaking of IBM, the senior executive representing IBM Global Services at the show met with the senior executive of Diebold Security Solutions to discuss a potential partnering relationship. This is an example of executive leadership ignoring barriers and looking to investigate mutual opportunities around collaboration.

The fact that this meeting might have been premature at last year’s show is significant. It also shows industry leadership. This combination would represent a global partnership mirroring the collaboration between domestic players PSA Security (physical integrators) and 1NService (IT integrators) mentioned in my last article.

By the way, Pierce was impressed enough to interview the PSA and 1NService representatives, who were walking the show floor together, and plans to follow up with them next year. This “collaboration” partnering trend extends from SMB to Fortune 500 organizations.

This is one reason I am so interested in the security middleware market and the changes occurring around IT infrastructure. These segments offer great partnering opportunities based upon significant industry trends.

VidSys (, Orsus ( and Proximex ( featured software to integrate and manage multiple vendor solutions in video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, alarms, compliance and audit, all across IP networks.

Behind this collaboration trend is the fact that data is becoming increasingly visual, because video clips and 3D graphics are demanding more bandwidth and changing how storage is deployed in the physical security industry.

Kudos to Bosch for recognizing that iscsi (IP storage) represents the fastest growing segment in the storage market and demonstrating this product capability in their booth. This is an important development from a major player. IBM’s technical guru Len Johnson explains that the security industry is approaching a new paradigm.

“As networking standards and visual software mature, we are keeping video longer and using sophisticated analysis tools to identify new trends,” Johnson reports. “As a result, video data mining is on the brink of being real.” This indicates that security storage volumes will follow the IT model and explode. Understanding storage is important because it represents a huge chunk of IT spending.

In a related article on new security trends at the Los Angeles airport, police are using innovative game theory software to make security checkpoints unpredictable. According to James Butts, deputy executive director at Los Angeles World Airports, “Typical plots start when would-be attackers begin watching their target 18 months to four years prior to an attack.”

In this case (or for a retailer who gets a slip-and-fall claim after erasing tapes), the 30-days-and-delete process doesn’t do much good. This means as software functionality advances (and it constantly does), the days of erasing video every 30 days will come to an end. As I have opined before, so will the days of DVRs and NVRs in enterprise installations. The reason is scale and administration. Not enough of the former and too much expense in the case of the latter.

If storage does not scale into hundreds of Terabytes, even Petabytes, the IT organization understands you are not aligned with the evolving “streaming” nature of data storage. They have been through limited storage footprints with PC servers in the 1990s, and that strategy will not be repeated.

This is where start-ups like Intransa ( understand scale from an IP networking and storage standpoint and Steelbox ( ) provides a new architecture combining high-speed switching and networked storage. These are all-important trends for integrators to embrace and understand.

A forward-thinking integrator and/or manufacturer will position their business to win by executing on the following trends:
1. Develop new partnerships around collaboration to leverage complementary skill sets.
2. Sell innovative solutions that eliminate proprietary silos and use IP networking.
3. Understand fundamental changes occurring in the network and storage infrastructures (big expenses) to deploy security policy (solutions) company-wide and globally.
4. Position security policy and compliance issues as business drivers with executives.

Pierce summed it up nicely for me when he said, “Success belongs to the company that embraces cultural change.” Looking at PSA Security and 1Nservice walk away together down the aisle, he added, “These guys have the right idea.”

I believe the good doctor has it right. Time will tell -- he has three more years of industry research ahead of him. Where will you be in three years? Many of today’s physical security businesses and employers who ignore these trends will be history.