Blurring of lines creates challenges, opportunities
Saturday, November 1, 2003

As boundaries are crossed between the needs of those managing physical security and those running the company’s information network, the question is raised: Who is ultimately in charge?

Paul Smith, chief operating officer for DVTel, Paramus, N.J., said the “perfect model” is one in which “the security guy brings his IT people into the room.” That cooperation between parties in charge of data and video transmission, even when there are separate networks, is often viewed as the best solution when there may be competing or conflicting interests.

“We find success where security people learn with or hire IT people,” Smith noted.

Yet, Smith is quick to acknowledge that the optimum solution isn’t necessarily the one the industry is adopting.

“Security people are threatened by IT,” he said. “They feel they will lose some of their control.”

Still, Smith noted, “the writing is on the wall” as the industry moves toward Ethernet-based technology.

Where security people have legitimate concerns, he said, is with how the security network will be supported. While it is inconvenient to have the business network inoperable even for short periods, it is critical in security situations that the network be available 24/7.

That is why, Smith said, “we don’t recommend putting them on the same network,” even if they are using the same technology.

Beyond what happens within organizations, there is also potential conflict within the installing community as well.

Integrators, Smith said, “should have some IT experience, rather than just being CCTV certified.”

“One of the key things that drives change is the skill sets of people in our industry,” said Allan Griebenow, president and chief executive officer at Axcess in Carrollton, Texas.

Educated integrators, Griebenow said, have the opportunity to provides solutions that end users don’t have the insight or the ability to address themselves. “An educated integrator can make things happen,” he said.

The learning curve may be steep, but it is also critical to master it - or you’ll be left behind, noted Peter Lockhart, vice president-technology for Anixter, a distributor of wire, cable and communications connectivity products based in Glenview, Ill.

Understanding the electronics side of the business is part of the evolutionary process, Lockhart noted. Still, he said, “some manufacturers are trying to protect dealer networks away from the technology while the real integrators are bringing (IT) people in, or IT (companies) are learning the security world and hiring good security people.”

The bottom line, Lockhart said, is to embrace the technology and all that goes with it, such as bringing IT personnel to the table, “or the little guys who don’t figure it out won’t be there.”