Computers to security, IBM offers it all

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Thursday, May 1, 2003

ARMONK, N.Y. - After years of speculation by industry analysts and insiders that computer giant IBM would enter the security arena, those predictions have now come true.

In early March the company known as “Big Blue” announced plans to offer the installation and service of digital video surveillance systems that run on IP-based networks. While the company previously made that service available to clients on an as needed basis, IBM will now offer a consulting, integration and deployment service package specific to the digital video market.

The addition comes at a critical time in the market as more security systems, specifically digital video and access control, hang off or reside on an IT or IP network.

“The thing it represents is a trend that we all talk about frequently. Security is becoming largely an IT decision,” said John Mack, of USBX Advisory Services.

For IBM the timing is right to offer the service, said Amy Lipton, director of marketing global media services for IBM. Citing a report from J.P. Freeman Co., IBM is setting its sights on the digital video market, which is expected to hit $5 billion by 2005.

“We see a huge up-tick in the service,” she said. “We’re addressing a need in the marketplace.”

IBM is already well positioned to address that need. It plans to tap 3,000 of its trained security professionals worldwide who are capable of offering such a service. IBM will also look to partner with companies that are already in the physical security market, such as manufacturers of digital video recorders, software providers, like Lenel, and perhaps even some systems integrators.

Mack said IBM’s entrance into the market should raise the bar for systems integrators and the industry as a whole.

“You have this very credible player that has this great reputation,” he said. “It’s going to be a very good boost for the industry and it will be good for other players in the industry.”

Lipton said IBM could also move into other areas of the security market besides just the digital video surveillance market. Already the company offers a smart surveillance application that can track objects or people. For example if a person walks against the flow of the security checkpoint traffic in an airport, the system will send an alarm.

Burglar alarms, access control and fire alarms could be next, said Lipton.

“Sending this type of information, digitizing it and sending it over networks allows the remote monitoring of any type of asset,” said Lipton. “It would certainly tie into being able to automate alarms and fire alarms.”