ASSA ABLOY, Cisco form partnership

Access giant and networking leader to introduce Hi-O smart doors in 2007
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

SAN DIEGO--Here at ASIS International, giants of the physical security and IT fields have come together to announce a major ongoing partnership. ASSA ABLOY, the Stockholm-based access control company and parent to HID Global, and Cisco, the networking pioneer that recently entered the physical security field with the purchase of surveillance company Sypixx, will now develop compatible technologies to allow the convergence of physical and logical access.
Here at ASIS, ASSA ABLOY has a demonstration of Cisco's converged access control technology operating the new standards-based Highly Intelligent Operation, or Hi-O, locking system, released here to the North American market for the first time. The Hi-O products will be available to channel partners starting in 2007.
Glen Greer, vice president of shared technologies for ASSA ABLOY, in an interview with Security Systems News, said the deal "enables us to make access control devices, specifically locks and door hardware, part of the IP network. We've announced plans to make all of our equipment compatible going forward ... We'll make sure each company's products will interoperate."
Dan Glisky, president of Compsat Security, an integrator that migrated into physical security from the IT world, see this collaboration as a good sign for the industry. "I think it's fabulous," he said, "because it helps validate the marketplace and the direction the marketplace is going. But there are going to be bigger players yet coming in, and we are far from seeing the final end product." He expects IT's heaviest hitters, like Microsoft, Oracle and IBM, to quickly enter physical security, likely through the introduction of increasingly standardized middleware.
"It's going to attract more IT vendors into the space," he said of the AA/Cisco collaboration, "and that means better products for the clients."
Further, ASSA ABLOY will be joining the Cisco Technology Development Program, said Greer, with a goal of letting ASSA ABLOY customers and channel partners know what Cisco has in the pipeline so they can plan accordingly.
Cisco is also announcing a new security consultants program, said Mark Farino, general manager of Cisco's Converged Secure Infrastructure Business Unit, "to help security consultants understand this transformation to the network-based application. We also have the Advanced Technology Partner Program, a vehicle that will have a physical security component to it, providing a template for training and certifying installers with the relevant networking knowledge they need."
Cisco, Farino said, will be looking for physical security integrators who have the door-level knowledge and are looking to understand the network side. Physical security companies won't be held to Cisco's highest training level, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, however. "We're talking about understanding some basic technology," he said.
Clovis Najm, chairman and founder of CryptoLex, a manufacturer that also creates a way to get physical and logical access databases talking, did see some drawbacks to the AA/Cisco solution, however. "You're going to have to retrofit," he said of the fully converged approach, "and no one's going to pull the whole system." Also, he noted that some jurisdiction require an intelligent panel as part of the access control system, a holdover from days when fire departments and first responders didn't trust servers to run access systems.
However, "I would say that a company like Cisco has the power to change that," Najm said, and he is very supportive of that push. "I'm a strong believer," he said, "that redundant systems pretty much run the globe right now, so there's no reason for intelligent panels."