What's an "IT security company"?

This seems interesting. Network World has released its "10 IT security companies to watch" list for 2008. Now, one would think that "IT security companies" are companies that provide IT security - protecting the network, spam filtering, firewall stuff, that kind of thing. However, there's notably a few companies that I would consider physical-security companies. What makes them IT? Let's look. First up is at the top of the list, BRS Labs. I wrote about them when they launched back in September. Focus: AISight is video-analytics technology that can convert images captured by a camera into machine-readable output that provides real-time intelligence about the surveillance to generate an alert. Why it's worth watching: As use of video-monitoring grows, business and government may want to automate surveillance to be warned of unexpected events. AISight can be used with existing video-monitoring systems. Um, yeah. Don't a lot of companies do this sort of thing? It may be true that BRS can do some things (learn, basically) that other analytics companies can't, but you wouldn't know that from this write up. So why does Network World single them out? How company got its start: Founder Ray Davis saw a gap in the effectiveness of video surveillance systems and backed a team of scientists working on artificial-intelligence recognitions systems for video. How company got its name: The BRS artificial-intelligence technology uses adaptive learning to anticipate behavior based on knowledge it accumulates over time. CEO: Davis is an entrepreneur involved in technology start-ups from the '90's, including SimDesk, CyNet and OnDisk. Ah-ha. Because Davis if one of their own. This is interesting to note. Because "IT" has come to mean "wicked smart guys," and IT publications are inherently the ones who've created this glow around IT guys, physical security companies with executives with IT backgrounds will get bonus points from these kinds of publications, but also from IT directors who are part of security buys much more often now. Here's the next one, Envysion. We're written about them here and here. I like this company's model, and I think video as a service is a great RMR generator for integrators. But how is it "IT security"? It's the classic physical security solution of preventing theft and damage and physical harm, like any CCTV system, it's just done remotely and over the network. Focus: Its managed video-surveillance services include installation of cameras in business locations, then remotely managing them through the Denver-based data center. Envysion can also enable detection of theft through correlating sales data generated electronically through cash registers and bar-coding with video-surveillance recordings of activity. Why it's worth watching: IP-based digital-surveillance systems are becoming more popular in business, but not every organization wants to install and manage them. Envysion's approach provides businesses with a managed service that has Internet and Web-based access to live and stored video feeds. Again, other companies do this. We wrote about another company getting into it just this month. Maybe they're the best at it. Maybe they're not. But why did Network World take notice? How company got its start: The company, now with 35 employees, was founded by CEO Matt Steinfort, Chairman Dan Caruso and CTO Rob Hagens. All were formerly with Level 3 Communications, where they saw growth in business video surveillance occurring and became convinced a managed service would prove popular. Yep. They're "IT guys," so, smarter than everyone else. Still, they do have good customers, I have to admit. Customers: About 40, including Chipolte, IHOP, and Captain D’s seafood chain. Have you had Chipotle? (There's a typo from Network World's write-up above. I left it in because I'm petty.) Their burritos are amazing. We don't have any in Maine, unfortunately. Anyway, all the other companies on the list do thinks like analyze data packets or detect malware or keep bad stuff from being done on desktops, etc. Those are "IT security companies." Envysion and BRS Labs are physical (or "electronic," maybe) security companies that just happen to have been launched by IT guys. I don't think this is just an exercise in semantics. I think it's important for traditional security players to watch out for this and raise red flags with a media that tends to lionize IT vendors and pooh-pooh traditional security guys as guns-and-fences types. There's plenty of sophisticated technology in physical security, and not all of it was created by IT guys with lots of "start-ups" on their resumes.