SNA talks about the business proposition for convergence

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

DALLAS, Texas--Executives from 30 of the largest privately owned security companies flew in from around the country on Feb. 23 to spend a day talking and learning about how the convergence of physical and logical security might affect businesses like theirs.

"This is a great opportunity for you," said Paul Cronin, CEO of IT networking organization 1nService. He, along with Cisco physical security head Bill Stuntz, likened the current environment in physical security to the advent of IP telephony, which happened about seven years ago. "Opportunities like this do not come around very often," Cronin said. Integrators that tackle convergence now, they said, will acquire market share and show their value to customers who could be long-standing. 

Stuntz outlined the technical advances that are driving convergence, the explosion of video on the Web and why Cisco is interested in the physical security market.

All of the security companies are part of the Security Network of America, a member organization for large privately held companies with their own central stations. They were in town for an all-day Executive IT meeting here at the Fairmont hotel. SNA decided to co-locate its event here with TechSec Solutions, which studies the impact of IP technology on the physical security market and took place on Feb. 24 and 25.

This is the first membership meeting focusing on IT, said Dave Carter, managing director of SNA. "The rationale for the meeting is not to learn about IT," he said, "but to talk about the business purposes for adding managed services to your business."

SNA members also heard presentations from Kirk Anderson, of Team Research Inc., about "Plug N Play" cameras; Avi Lupo, of Oz Vision, about IP-based managed video solutions; Hank Goldberg, of Secure Global Solutions, about IT-centric managed services; Bill Bozeman, of PSA Security Network, about training resources for physical and IT integration; and business models for entering IP/IT services from Honeywell Systems Group.

The meeting "solidified that the convergence of our industry and IT is happening, and that it's time to get on board with the transition," said Brad Tolliver, vice president of Electronic Security for Per Mar Security Services, who was at the meeting with his IT director. "It's pretty clear that eventually all or our devices will be IP driven." Per Mar is currently developing a plan to hire IT personnel (or train current personnel in IT) at each of its branch locations.

Stuntz told the group the economic stimulus package recently signed by the president will bring "enormous opportunities" for jobs involving physical and logical security. "Mostly in homeland security applications?" one attendee asked. "No," said Stuntz. Opportunities will also be found in "state and local governments, ports, airports, and schools both K-12 and universities."

And while current economic conditions may not be great, Cronin [of 1nservice] said the "hidden benefit of the poor economy," is that there is a lot of IT talent out there that is currently unemployed or who would be interested in working for a physical security company "because they want to be part of something big."