Convergence: An Old Idea Who's Time Has ComeBy Lawrence Walsh | Posted 2008-11-23 Email Print
The convergence of physical and logical security isn't a new idea, but it is largely untapped by solution providers. Groups like 1nService and PSA Security are bringing these largely segmented channels together for this $7 billion market opportunity.
Security convergence isn’t a new idea. Some analysts and entrepreneurs have been advocating the integration of crossover security technologies since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Some of the initial recommendations following the attacks called for the use of biometric technology to control access to sensitive facilities, verify the identities of airline passengers and provide a second form of authenticating identities for everything from driver's licenses to passports.
Several vendors and solution providers have explored crossover and convergence security solutions with existing products and technologies. For instance, it’s feasible to integrate SIM (security information management) systems with physical access control systems to detect anomalous activities and trigger alarms. In theory, nearly every identity management form factor (passwords, biometrics, tokens, smart cards) can be used for both physical and logical access. And surveillance systems, such as video over IP networks, can be used by physical security to monitor facilities where digital events are happening.
In such a case, a security guard and a network admin would be alerted if someone accessed the network with my credentials when there’s no record of me entering the building. They would then turn a video camera on my workstation to see who was using the system. A converged security system provides many new layers of controls for guarding physical and logical assets.
Cisco Systems and Adtran, two of the vendors that exhibited at the 1nService and PSA Security conferences, are pushing partnerships and technologies that enable security convergence, and partnerships among complementary solution providers to deliver these emerging systems. Because few solution providers have domain expertise on both sides of the convergence equation, the vendors believe collaboration is the way to both enable and accelerate the convergence wave. An example of how these collaborative partnerships could work can be found in the partnerships forged by voice and data networking specialists.
"The physical security market has its own nuances. But the customer wants the expertise, so the solution provider needs to show it can either provide converged solutions or have the relationships to deliver solutions," says Steve Benvenuto, director of business development of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Worldwide Channels.
Cisco is among the companies that believe security convergence is a burgeoning business opportunity for the marketplace, and as much as $1 billion for itself. As a result, Cisco believes solution providers will benefit greatly in this emerging market opportunity.
"These are innovative technologies and give solution providers an opportunity to go back to their customers," Benvenuto says. "Absolutely 100 percent of all customers need physical security."
Sounds good? Of course. But, of course, there are several catches.