Dan DunkelSECURITY IN CONTEXT It’s the System, Stupid

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in SDM

Pardon the attention-grabbing headline and obvious copy of former President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign slogan, courtesy of strategist James Carville. I wanted to point out the need for the physical security industry to think in more holistic terms regarding the future of security deployments.

During the recent ISC West show, I was encouraged to see more vendors “Get IT” and “digital” has officially replaced “analog,” at least in the marketing materials and show booth advertising. This is a welcome development compared with just a few short years ago.

Marketing and advertising aside, the recurring theme was networking and the importance of shared data and collaboration. This underscores the intent of the physical security industry to embrace IT infrastructure.

One common understanding is that security deployments are getting larger and more complex. They are evolving to become security systems and not simply stand-alone product installations – with intelligent IP networking at the core.

Security — in the context of the physical domain — is defined as freedom from danger, risk, etc., to make safe, as in precautions taken to guard against crimes, attack, sabotage and espionage. The word system has a more broadly interpreted definition: an assemblage or combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary whole, or a coordinated body of methods or a scheme or plan of procedure.

The critical issue lies in understanding the concept of security in the context of a system.

During the current transformation of the security industry, policy is being deployed across the global IT infrastructure (system). This promotes a cultural shift towards proactive rather than reactive procedures, and it can only occur through automation. In fact, this might be described as security nirvana. Suffice it to say that nirvana requires some upfront work. This is known as systems integration or the ability to utilize legacy equipment and security products in tandem with the latest technical innovations. The most innovative (and future) installations will include the convergence of both physical and logical security systems delivered over increasingly intelligent IP networks.

The new generation of security professional (manufacturers, integrators, and end users) has replaced the word silo with system. The innovative integrator is IP-literate and views the opportunity to develop systems that deliver maximum performance as providing a 10-fold increase in business opportunities. As technology becomes commoditized it also becomes pervasive. Innovators understand that commodity hardware places a premium on delivering software solutions, which drives the systems integration business. Developing and integrating new security systems is where  increased margins begin.

The price for this system mindset is education. Cisco and Microsoft certifications are a prerequisite for technical acumen. Equally important is an understanding of where IP networks and related technologies (such as software and storage) are heading.

Collaboration involves multiple technologies and a quick review of your teenager’s habits in social networking: YouTube.com and their cell phone is a good tech primer.

There also is a cultural change involved. When you get the “system religion” you view security policy deployed across an intelligent network infrastructure as similar to a biological organism that is in a state of constant change and continuously adapts to its environment. This means managing customer accounts through a sustained cycle of system integration. The system integrators’ value proposition is only limited by their imagination.

“Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

At the end of the day, security is gaining influence and importance by going global. Consider creating a trusted environment around the supply chain; this goes well beyond securing an airport or seaport. The challenge in supply chain security involves nothing short of protecting global commerce and saving the world economy.

“It’s the System, Stupid,” and thankfully it involves an intelligent global network to offer security professionals their best chance to combat threats in an increasingly dangerous world.