Consultants, manufacturers and integrators mix at AMAG SES
I spent the past two days at AMAG Technology’s Security Engineering Symposium here in St. Petersburg, Fla.
It was the 11th annual AMAG SES event, with about 90 consultants in attendance. “We handpick the best consultants in the industry and invite them here,” AMAG director of business development Jody Ross told me. More consultants than ever before attended, she said, and about “45 to 50 percent of them were new faces.”
According to informal surveys at the event, business is good these days for the consultants. Eighty percent of consultants said they’re working on new business currently, as opposed to more jobs for existing clients. In a show of hands, about 75 percent said they are “busy or very busy” and about 40 percent say they’re looking to hire more consultants.
Ed Chandler of Security by Design, a frequent attendee at this event, said he checked up on improvements included in the new version (V7.1) of AMAG’s Symmetry access control and security management system. He also views the event as an opportunity to give product feedback to AMAG and other manufacturing partners who attend the event, he said.
Coincidentally, I’d just interviewed Ed’s wife and business partner, Lorna Chandler, last week. She will be SSN’s featured specifier in our “Specifically Speaking” column in the April issue of SSN. Each month, we do a Q & A with a different specifier, (supplied to SSN by SecuritySpecifiers.com), and I also had a chance to meet three other specifiers in person who are alumni of the SpecificallySpeaking column (Michael Crocker, Mark Peterson and Ted Wheaton)
AMAG’s manufacturing partners this year, included HID and Stentofon, which have both been at all 11 AMAG SES symposiums. Dan Rothrock of Stentofon demoed a new (extremely audible) audio product called “Turbine.”
One point emphasized by Rothrock and AMAG at the event is that both are typically considered ideal for enterprise solutions, but both offer solutions for smaller applications,—that’s fewer than 16 readers for AMAG, and for Stentafon, “a two to 16-station IP-solution that doesn’t need a server or software licenses,” Rothrock said.
Hawkeye Technologies showcased its Harmony web-based solution that enables users to interface with AMAG’s Symmetry solution using any device with a web browser.
SRI International Sarnoff showed off its iris-readers, a walk-by solution and a handheld solution. I saw a demo where a guy’s iris was recognized when he was wearing tri-focal sunglasses. It’s not cheap, the readers run around $2,800 for the stationary readers and $20,000 for the handheld, but the price has come down substantially, and these guys claim that their solution—because it works at some distance (relative to other solutions) —is more valuable. Plus, they say it’s the most accurate biometric next to retinal scans and Stephen Piro, business development director for SRI said: “administration and recurring ownership cost is extremely low.” It’s been implemented at an athletic facility at Auburn University and elsewhere. Niche-y but cool stuff.
Assa Abloy brought its demo bus to the event. The focus was on its wireless lock lines, which I’d seen at ASIS and ISC West last year, and its new resi phones-unlocking doors solution—a collaboration between Verizon and Yale, which was introduced at the CES show in January, and some say may migrate into the commercial world.
NEC’s Miguel Llerena told me that specifiers and integrators need to take more of an interest in the “how virtualization will play a role in this industry. They need to be aware and prepared,” he said.
He said he’s working on eight access control systems, AMAG and others, that use a virtualized server. “Virtualization will happen first, then private cloud and then the public cloud,” he predicted, and suggested that integrators get certified on VM ware or other virtualization platform.
Other partners at the event included Innometriks, Intransa, Milestone, and Winstead.
AMAG’s Tina Seraphin, who joined the company one year ago and is spearheading the company’s new professional services offerings, described the program, which she said was launched in response to requests from consultants.
I'll have more on this, but it’s an extensive, structured program that provides a variety of extra support for integrators. “More frequently, we’re finding consultants are writing into specifications that professional services must be included in the project,” Jody Ross said. “It’s a safeguard, an extra layer … everyone can sleep better at night.”
There were also about 19 integrators at the AMAG event, as well as PSA Security’s Bill Bozeman. This is the second year that integrators have been invited to attend some of the consultant sessions yesterday and to participate in a kind of mini-conference which is scheduled to take place today (March 7). They’ll hear from AMAG and AMAG partners, but they’ll also have a consultant/reseller panel discussion and break-out sessions.
AMAG did this with five resellers last year, and decided to expand the number of integrators this year. The discussion will focus on the best ways to work together, Ross said. Last year both the consultants and integrators said it was “valuable to get input from the other side,” she said.
One integrator, Dan Kilgore of RFI Communications, attended consultant sessions on March 6 and was looking forward to the joint sessions today.
“I wanted to hear what they are being presented with and what we’ll be presented with tomorrow. If I can understand how they get to their frame of mind, that might help me to be a better resource to them,” he said. While it’s important to maintain a separation between the consultant and integrator, the two professions “oftentimes live in separate vacuums,” and that’s not helpful for integrator, specifier, end user or manufacturer, he said.