Dan DunkelLEADING BY EXAMPLE Cisco Systems: Industry Model

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in SDM

I recently had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with a security visionary and touring a leading-edge operations center. Bill Jacobs, director of Global Risk Technologies, is a 30-year security industry veteran who came to Cisco Systems 13 years ago. Little did Bill know that he would have a hand in changing the shape of the 21st Century security industry.

My first reaction upon entering the Cisco EOC — Emergency Operations Center — in San Jose, Calif. (one of five such centers globally), was to think about the similarities to the New Jersey State Police Fusion Center facility I visited a few months ago. The Cisco EOC is the commercial counterpart of the N.J.S.P.  Seeing how these innovative operations view security policy and the workflow of real-time information and event management provides a view into the future of security.

Cisco has an impressive global operation (450-plus locations, 80,000 access control users, 7,000 card readers, 3,000-plus cameras and hundreds of NVRs). This EOC is state-of-the-art and Bill easily maneuvers dashboard information across any number of 65 inch LCDs and high-end video management systems surrounding this acoustically engineered room. Even the latest Cisco technology for TelePresence is on display, complete with a conference table that folds out like the wing of a Stealth bomber.

I look across the room into the glass-enclosed Security Facility Operations Center (SFOC) where security and facilities work cooperatively to improve operations. Bill mentions in passing how the two groups collaborate to save Cisco $10 million dollars annually by automating traditional physical guarding with IP technologies.

Listening to Bill Jacobs explain the Cisco security philosophy is like hearing a blueprint for the skill sets required of the next generation of security professionals. He described a Cisco Global Risk Management model that places a premium on people first, followed by concerns over physical and logical assets, and shareholder value. He mentioned the ability to provide a holistic view of security across global operations to collaborate in real time, thereby enabling business continuity and operational efficiencies. Bill spoke to the issues of investment protection and demonstrating a return on investment and total cost of ownership models. He believes we are only in the initial stages of where the convergence of physical security and information technologies will take this profession.

Cisco sees a business opportunity of at least $1 billion in the physical security market and they use the products they sell. The success of this security convergence strategy involves integrator partners and the selection and management of these resources is also one of Bill’s many responsibilities.

I asked what he looks for in a potential IT or physical security integrator relationship: “The issue is managing systems and the collaboration of data to build a business model around the system integration capabilities available. What I want from an integrator is actually a program management organization that delivers services.”

We entered a combination beta lab/briefing room through a high-tech facial recognition system. Bill explained that when he attends trade shows he seeks out the innovative companies and is not interested in vendors selling similar functionality. I saw a lot of leading-edge technology integrated into his operation and took away a few names I was not aware of.

Suddenly, 16 people entered the room. They represent a major money center bank and were here for one of the more than 200 executive briefings that occur annually at this center. On the fly, Bill stepped the group through a simulated “earthquake drill.” As we left I asked if he was enjoying himself as much as it appeared he was. “I have the ability to change the definition of security. I love this job, and who wouldn’t want this stuff?” Bill answered.

I agree, and think Cisco (and Bill Jacobs) is doing a fine job of leading the next-generation security industry by example.