The way forward

At TechSec, open standards--and systems--touted
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Sunday, April 1, 2007

DALLAS--How open is open? Paul Smith, chief operating officer of DVTel, got his panel of IT and physical security experts thinking by challenging both the panelists and the audience with that simple question here at TechSec Solutions on Feb. 28. "Stronger Together: IT and Security Network Convergence and the need for Open Standards" drew an audience of close to 100 conference participants eager to engage in the discussion.
"When you think about open systems, it's convergence with IT," said Smith, "Each member of the panel represents one of the components of an open system."
Also presenting were Manfred Arndt, convergence architect with ProCurve Networking by HP; Craig Banaszewski, sales manager of integrator Siemens Building Technologies; Fredrik Nilsson, general manager of Axis Communications, maker of IP cameras; Edward Sharp, general manager of digital media content storage for NetApp, whose company provides storage solutions; and Brenton Scott, an expert on access control and executive director of business development at HID Global.
In answer to the question of openness, the necessity for open standards came up almost immediately during the discussion, with panelists pointing to recent inroads made by the NFPA, SIA and BACnet in creating new standards, as well as the possibility of leveraging IT standards that have been in place for some time.
Said Nilsson, "Openness and standards go hand in hand. True standards create true openness. Standards for us as vendors are great--we try to implement them as quickly as possible."
The panelists also listed drivers for the move away from proprietary systems and toward openness, from end-users' purchasing decisions to business demand from higher ups. "Networks are the cornerstone of business nowadays," said Arndt. "Business leaders are demanding higher performance and better pricing."
"Openness delivers flexibility and saves cost. The challenge for the industry is to use open components and deliver an integrated solution to customers," added Sharp. "Look out three to five years. You're not designing a system for today. It's not that you need to know what you're going to do, but you should know what's possible."
In his closing remarks, Smith encouraged conference attendees to form partnerships with other companies as they move toward openness and away from proprietary systems in an increasingly IP-driven security world. "If your skill set isn't IP or IT, then partner. By all means take advantage of vendors who are bringing some of those skills."
Perhaps the question is not only about how open "open" is, but also about who will drive the trend. "In the end," said Scott, "openness will be decided by end users, through buying patterns and decisions made."