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Bright future for security in the cloud

 - 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

As reverberations from last week’s ransomware attack continue to be felt throughout the world and the security industry, the answer to how we can minimize the impact that these types of attacks can have on a company may be found in the cloud. For example, WannaCry ransomware, as it is called, preyed on Microsoft computers that failed to update the latest security patch that was issued in March, an oversight that an IT savvy company operating in the cloud would not fall victim to.

The good news continues to pour in on increased adoption of cloud-based services, including a new report from Intel Security, titled Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky: The State of Cloud Adoption and Security, which finds that cloud services are now a regular component of IT operations, and are utilized by more than 90 percent of organizations around the world.

Many are working under a “cloud first” philosophy, only choosing to deploy an internal service if there is no suitable cloud variant available, and as a result, IT architectures are rapidly shifting to a hybrid private/public cloud model, with those surveyed expecting 80 percent of their IT budget to be cloud-based within an average of 15 months, according to the report.

For the report, Intel Security surveyed more than 2,000 IT professionals in September 2016 to produce this annual review of the state of cloud adoption, representing a broad set of industries, countries, and organization sizes. In the face of a continuing shortage of skilled security personnel, the impact of this scarcity on cloud adoption was a priority for this year’s report.

“Cloud first. Two simple words, but the approach is now well and truly ensconced into the architecture of many organizations across the world,” Raj Samani, chief technology officer, EMEA, Intel Security, said in the report. “Our initial assumption when designing the survey, that there was a gap between intent and implementation and that the transformation to cloud would take several years, was proven inaccurate. The desire to migrate quickly towards cloud computing appears to be on the agenda for most organizations.”

In the forward to the report, Jim Reavis, CEO, Cloud Security Alliance, said, “This report clearly resonates with the anecdotal information I have received in my travels representing the Cloud Security Alliance this past year. Cloud computing is maturing and broad-based adoption is occurring.”

Overall, the study found that cloud services are widely used in some form, with 93 percent of organizations utilizing software-, infrastructure-, or platform-as-a-service offerings. Cloud architectures also changed significantly, from predominantly private-only in 2015 to increased adoption of public cloud resulting in a predominantly hybrid private/public infrastructure in 2016. Also, the average number of cloud services in use in an organization dropped from 43 in 2015 to 29 in 2016, indicating potential consolidation of cloud providers or solutions.

Interestingly, almost half (49 percent) of the professionals surveyed stated that they had slowed their cloud adoption due to a lack of cybersecurity skills.

The trust and perception of public cloud services continues to improve year-over-year, the report said, and most organizations view cloud services as or more secure than private clouds, and much more likely to deliver lower costs of ownership and overall data visibility. Those who trust public clouds now outnumber those who distrust public clouds by more than 2:1. Overall, 62 percent of organizations reported storing personal customer information in public clouds.

“Improved trust and perception, as well as increased understanding of the risks by senior management, is encouraging more organizations to store sensitive data in the public cloud,” the report found.

Virtualization of private data center architectures is progressing, and on average, 52 percent of an organization’s data center servers are virtualized, and most expect to have the conversion to a fully software-defined data center completed within 2 years, according to the findings.

Because businesses are trusting cloud services with a wide range of applications and data, much of it sensitive or business critical, the report stated that this movement of sensitive data to the public cloud may attract cybercriminals.

“Security vendors are delivering tools to address fundamental security concerns, such as protecting data in transit, managing user access, and setting consistent policies across multiple services,” the report concluded. “Attackers will look for the easiest targets, regardless of where they are located. Integrated or unified security solutions are a strong defense against these threats, giving security operations visibility across all of the services the organization is using and what data sets are permitted to traverse them."

The report noted that organizations should ensure that they are using authentication best practices, such as distinct passwords, multi-factor authentication, and even biometrics where available.

“Despite the majority belief that Shadow IT is putting the organization at risk, security technologies such as data loss prevention (DLP), encryption, and cloud access security brokers (CASBs) remain underutilized,” according to the findings. “Integrating these tools with an existing security system increases visibility, enables discovery of shadow services, and provides options for automatic protection of sensitive data at rest and in motion throughout any type of environment. Consider adopting a Cloud First strategy to encourage adoption of cloud services to reduce costs and increase flexibility, and put security operations in a proactive position instead of a reactive one.”

The bottom line: The cost and resource savings of cloud services are real, and the wide variety of offerings makes it possible to choose the best fit for the organization, according to the report.

Click here for the full report.

Affiliated's Catalyst 2017

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MIAMI—On Monday I headed down to Aventura, Fla., just outside of Miami, to attend Affiliated Monitoring's second annual Catalyst, a conference focused on the sales and marketing aspects of PERS technologies. There have been a lot of interesting conversations happening at the conference; included below is a brief overview of the conference and some of the topics discussed.

Prior to the first official day of this year's Catalyst, the company held a PERS marketing primer for attendees. Mike Zydor, Affiliated's managing director, and Matt Solomon, director of software solutions for Affiliated, presented the introduction to the technology and the market. The number of people aged 65 years and older will increase in years to come, they said, adding that the typical PERS customer is in their low- to mid-eighties.

"We have lots of seniors and they live at home, they own their own homes and they want to stay in their own homes," Solomon said. Solomon and Zydor highlighted the point that often in selling PERS, a dealer is not interacting directly with the user, but with the user's adult children.

The two gave an overview of products on the market, such as in home technologies, fall detection, mobile PERS.

Zydor and Solomon delved into marketing in two key areas, direct-to-consumer and through partnerships. In discussing direct-to-consumer options, they gave an overview of paid search marketing, content marketing and SEO, print advertising, and social media among others. Of these, content marketing and SEO was highlighted as a good possibility for local efforts.

When looking for partnerships in the market, Solomon and Zydor said a dealer can look to hospitals, home healthcare agencies and senior services, among others.

The first day’s educational sessions started with an opening keynote on the state of the PERS industry, presented by Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim.

"You are living in the golden age of PERS right now, the opportunity is right now," Oppenheim said. He stated that he wanted to give attendees three main things to consider and take away from the opening address.

Firstly, he pointed out several products in the industry and their impact. While the majority of units are still in the home, Oppenheim said he’s seen fast growth in mPERS over the last two years.

The second item Oppenheim discussed is that dealers should learn more about their customers. Affiliated looked at figures from its interactions with PERS in 2016. PERS is about peace of mind, he said, pointing to the statistic that action was needed in response to a PERS button press 10 percent of the time during 2016.

Additionally, the company found out that of mobile PERS button presses, 53 percent of those users were at home. Similar to the previous years, the average age of a PERS user is 81 and the average age of an mPERS user is 78.

Lastly, Oppenheim discussed “the sale after the sale,” and that a good customer is not only one who has it delivered but one that uses it. He shared a figure: if a PERS user tests their system within the first 30 days of getting it, they were five times more likely to still be a subscriber a year later, as compared to those that didn’t test the unit within that time.

Oppenheim also noted that this year marks Affiliated Monitoring’s 40th anniversary.

Following the opening keynote, Matt Solomon presented “Agile Management in Action.” He described agile management as a methodology, or way of thinking about a business, in order to improve business efficiency.

Solomon discussed key aspects of the agile management philosophy, such as placing value in people and interactions instead of processes, delivering on the premise, working with customers and responding to change.

Agile management is a way of empowering employees to make decisions, he said. The methodology is also focused on shorter-term time frames, such as two weeks, as opposed to nine or 12 months. Agile is also about delivering value, he said.

Solomon gave attendees the chance to collaborate in a group activity, which was centered around working together, making decisions about prioritization, and ultimately seeing how the amount of work required for a task adds to the value of a business.

Prioritize, collaborate and get stuff done were three main points Solomon underlined.

“Executive Spotlight: DRTV and the Senior Market,” was the next session. Here, Daniel Oppenheim sat across from Peter Koeppel, founder and president of Koeppel Direct, a direct response media firm. In this session, Koeppel and Oppenheim had a conversation about direct response television advertising, or DRTV, and how it might fit into the PERS industry.

To start, Koeppel defined DRTV as a TV ad designed to get a consumer’s immediate response. Examples of DRTV would include commercials that instruct viewers to dial a number or visit a website to order a product or receive more information.

Koeppel said that seniors in particular are watching more TV, and they watch during the daytime, which is generally a less expensive spot for advertising. Longer time spots can work better with the senior market, he noted, allowing the number to remain on screen longer and slower talking in the commercial.

Koeppel showed two commercials as examples of DRTV and case studies for how they work—both chosen because they were designed for the senior market, much like PERS. Afterward he gave examples of how responses changed based on changes in the advertising, such as a better response to a rebate as opposed to other incentives, and more responses with a “repeater number” such as 555-1212.

In “Thought Leader Discussion: The Future of PERS,” Mike Zydor moderated a discussion with four executives from the industry: Ryan Bangerter, VP of business development for Mytrex; Yaniv Amir, president of Essence USA; Scott McGeHee, VP of sales and marketing for Climax; and John Carpenter, VP of channel engagement for Nortek.

Zydor opened the session with a specific question for each speaker. Noting that Mytrex has a focus on in-home units, he first asked Bangerter about what led Mytrex to stay focused on this area of the industry. "The biggest thing is looking at demand," Bangerter said, adding that there is a demand for in-home products.

After mentioning that Essence focuses on monitoring aspects of daily living, Zydor asked Amir where he sees the market going. One of the things Amir pointed out is that monitoring daily living habits through Essence’s system doesn't necessarily require a pendant, which can help. "A pendant is perceived [as] losing their independence,” Amir said.

Zydor asked McGehee about Mytrex’s work with both mobile and in-home PERS. McGeHee said that dealers look for an easy to use, simplified offering, which fits a senior who is not comfortable with an abundance of technology.

Next, Carpenter was asked for what he sees as key features of interest in the market, particularly considering that Nortek is involved with telehealth. Carpenter said that he sees being able to add more features and functionality as a benefit amidst other offerings that look to compete on price.

The second day of Catalyst 2017 started with "Keynote Conversation with Ken Gross- Executive Spotlight: Unrivaled Success in the PERS Industry," featuring a conversation between Daniel Oppenheim and Ken Gross, founder and chairman of Connect America. The two discussed Gross' approaches and successes in the industry.

Oppenheim opened with a question about Gross' history and how he came to the PERS industry. Gross answered that he first started an alarm business in 1977, sold it in 1989 and subsequently entered a 10-year non-compete. He returned to the industry in 1999 with a new business that he sold five years later in 2004. At that time he was investing in domain names, one of which was medicalalarm.com, which led him to enter the PERS business in 2004.

When Oppenheim asked about the key turning points in Gross' business, Gross pointed to two events, one which led to the other. The first event was a positive review in Good Housekeeping, which Gross said helped the company in forming a partnership with CVS. Through this partnership, Gross’ business put a display in 6,000 CVS stores.

Oppenheim also brought the conversation to a topic from the previous day's conversation on DRTV. Gross said that he has used specific numbers, such as 800 numbers—as opposed to 877 or 833—and repeating numbers.

Gross underlined one piece of advice at a couple of occasions: picking the right partners, including the right vendor and the right central stations for the business. "Pick the right partners and stick with it," he said.

Dr. Robert Rohm, corporate trainer and author, gave the final presentation of the day, covering personality types and the best ways to interact with different types of personalities.

Personalities are oriented in a couple of different ways, according to Rohm. People are either more task oriented or more people oriented; they are also either more outgoing or reserved.

Outgoing and task oriented tends to make for a dominant personality, he said. This group of people is filled with natural born leaders and likes seeing results. This group can also be defiant.

Outgoing and people oriented means a person is very fun-loving, looks to be liked, though can be illogical at times. Incorporating fun into a sales call with an outgoing and people oriented person will help, he said.

If a person has both reserved and people oriented traits, they will be supportive and generally like teamwork and appreciation. This group of people values peace and harmony, Rohm said. This group can be a “sucker,” he said.

The last group Rohm addressed is those that are task oriented and reserved. This group looks for value and quality answers and likes to be right. These traits mean a person likes patterns and to know what is expected of them. People who are task oriented and reserved can come off as cold, Rohm noted.

Attendees seemed really pleased with the event and the educational sessions, with quite a few returning from last year. Attendees were also positive on the networking opportunities and this year’s location.

PSA TEC wrap-up

 - 
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—PSA TEC, PSA Security Network’s annual conference in support of its integrators, vendors and members—including ProAV professionals following PSA Security Network’s recent acquisition of USAV and CI Edge—provided some valuable education and networking, including some important takeaways for attendees.

In addition to training and certification opportunities from manufacturers as well as from SIA, ASIS and CompTIA, this year’s educational program touched on many of the top trends in the industry today, from the cloud, biometrics and IoT to robots, drones and data analytics.

One of the big themes for the show this year was cybersecurity, which the PSA Security Network has “taken a leading position on,” according to president and CEO Bill Bozeman, who pointed out that PSA has put a lot of time, effort and money into providing resources, education and support for members on this increasingly important topic. Bozeman noted that PSA Security Network’s cybersecurity committee has made “great strides in just this past year.”

This year’s keynote, Matthew Rosenquist, cybersecurity strategist for Intel Corporation, in his presentation “Cybersecurity Risks and Recommendations—Where Your Focus Needs to Be,” provided a nice launching point for many of the day’s cybersecurity sessions and discussions.

Rosenquist pointed out, “Ten years ago we weren’t having this discussion,” noting that today it is absolutely imperative that the security industry has these cyber discussions, as “physical security and cyber have converged.”

He told integrators in the audience that as much as there are risks as well as challenges in preventing and combatting cyber threats, there are also “opportunities here” to provide services to protect both physical security and cybersecurity. IT professionals, including CIOs and CTOs, he noted, now have great influence over security matters and decisions and have much more in terms of budget and funding, so getting IT at the table with security folks is key.

In the “State of the Industry” session, Bozeman told integrators, “We need to figure out how to sell cyber,” pointing out the goal is to provide—similar to what is available on the physical security side—“a set of services for cyber that integrators can sell.”

The State of the Industry session was moderated by Bozeman with a panel that included keynote speaker Rosenquist as well as Gunvir Baveja, CEO, eVigilant Security, David Sylvester, founder and president, 3SE, and Chuck Wilson, executive director, NSCA.

In addition to cybersecurity, the group looked at the impact of third party managed services businesses on the industry.

“This is a new problem for us,” Wilson said, adding that these companies often come in after the project is done to offer managed services. He noted it is important “to grab that service contract early on” in the project.

Baveja said that his company offers the first year free to ensure that they get the service contract, noting that he has found that by using that approach “95- to 98 percent will sign a monthly maintenance contract.”

“As the integrator on the project, you already have your foot in the door,” added Sylvester, providing integrators with an advantage over third party companies in regard to offering a service contract. “Even cyber, too,” he said.

Getting back to cybersecurity, and ways in which integrators can sell these services, Baveja, whose company has a division devoted to cybersecurity, confirmed what Rosenquist said during his keynote—that more and more security procurement decisions are being made by IT professionals, the CIOs, for example. “It is important to get the CSO and the CIO at the same table during a project,” he said.

This topic of “selling cyber” also came up during the session, “Providing Cyber Ready Solutions and Services for Successful Lifecycle Project Implementation,” which was presented by a PSA Security Network cross-committee panel that included PSA cybersecurity committee chair Andrew Lanning, co-founder, Integrated Security Technologies; PSA project management chair Robert Flynn, senior VP, operations, Aronson Security Group; PSA sales and marketing committee chair Sharon Shaw, client development manager, Tech Systems, Inc.; and PSA technical committee member Chris Peckham, SVP, CTO and special projects, Kratos Public Safety & Security Solutions, Inc.

Lanning pointed out that the committee has “come a long way in the past year” creating resources, improving processes, but he asked, “Where is the ROI? How can we monetize the value we can bring?”

He said that the “cross-pollination between committees” is helping to identify the value that integrators can bring to the cyber discussion, including providing guidance and services.

“Where do you want to play?” Lanning asked the packed room. “With the government and military, they require it [cybersecurity],” he noted, pointing out that in many cases, depending on what vertical a company works in, there are compliance standards that are regulated. “The demand is there and many clients are unknowledgeable but open to discuss,” he said, noting that he “bundles cyber with our other services.”

Peckham added, “Offer good, better, best; the value proposition is there—we just need to sell it.”

Peckham pointed out that an often-overlooked aspect in the cyber discussion is employee education and training, which can include mandatory online training courses, in-house discussions and memos, even signs around the office. “Preventive measures are key in the workplace,” he said.

Shaw added that she finds that people often need something they can relate to before it really sinks in. “Storytelling—giving examples and sharing occurrences—is very effective,” she said. “Educate clients on their risks, including offering penetration testing.”

The panel also agreed that the onus is partially on the manufacturers, which “aren’t hardening products the way they should,” said Flynn. He noted that many within the industry have their “head in the sand” on cybersecurity, which “needs to be addressed from sales to service.”

During the State of the Industry, the panel got into the need for insurance on the cybersecurity side of things. Many on the panel agreed that coverage varies greatly from company to company, with Baveja pointing out, “Insurance companies are just trying to figure things out right now.”

Rosenquist noted, “The insurance companies don’t have it figured out because actuary data is not available. There is no predictability as attacks change constantly.” He also said that coverage costs—as well as what is covered for the same project/job—can vary dramatically. “Even the application process varies wildly,” he said, from a one-page application to one that can be upwards of 100 pages.

Bottom line: Expect your customers to ask for it.

The State of the Industry panel also agreed that this is a good time to be in the industry, which will continue to see a 6- to 8 percent annual growth rate moving forward, aided greatly by a booming construction market that includes increased technology infrastructure building and growth in the U.S.

To ensure that integrators continue to stay profitable, PSA Security Network provided an informative panel presentation called “PSA Financial and Operational Metrics.” Nadim Sawaya, principal, EPC, has worked closely with PSA to help provide useful metrics that integrators can take home and start using right away. He went through some of the highlights and important aspects of a 70-page document that the PSA Security Network created as a resource for integrators.

All and all, PSA TEC was a great event, from the educational sessions, training and networking to the vendor awards, sponsor hospitality suites and trade show portion on Wednesday that featured more than 100 exhibitors in an intimate setting.

For those looking to next year, PSA TEC is changing its location and dates. PSA TEC 2018 will be at the Downtown Denver Sheraton from March 11-15.

Affiliated and Essence USA launch new PERS program

 - 
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UNION, N.J.—On Monday, connected living solutions provider Essence USA announced a new program, created in partnership with Affiliated Monitoring, to benefit dealers of Essence’s PERS products.

“The fully customizable program gives dealers a range of options about how to best run their PERS offerings, including order fulfillment - direct to the consumer or distributed to the dealer, customer service, invoicing and collections, equipment retrieval and refurbishment, and branding options,” the announcement read.

“PERS is a major focus at Affiliated,” Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated’s vice president, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to be able to provide this advanced system to our dealers who are interested in a turnkey PERS program.”

“We can customize a program for any dealer to make it easier to get into PERS,” Affiliated Managing Director Mike Zydor said in the announcement. “For the dealers already in the market, we can provide access to preprogrammed, leading-edge products at discounted rates.”

Essence’s Care@Home suite of PERS products benefits both dealers and end-users, Essence said in its announcement. The offering has a large radio communications range for devices, “allowing users maximum flexibility in moving around their home and property. They also offer a wide variety of safety and security sensors, giving dealers an attractive and scalable offering for their customer base,” the announcement said.

“Essence is on the forefront of in-home PERS technology and has a veteran management team behind it,” said Yaniv Amir, President, Essence USA, in the announcement. “Essence historically has only worked directly with larger players in the space, and we are excited to now bring our products to all Affiliated dealers.”

The program is scheduled to launch within the Affiliated dealer network at the end of May.

Convergint acquires Operational Security Systems

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

At ISC West last month it was nice to meet and catch up with Convergint Technologies' executive chairman and founder Dan Moceri, and president and CEO Ken Lochiatto, who were both kind enough to participate in an ssnTVnews video interview on the Security Systems News' trade show floor stage.

The global systems integration company has been very busy recently—and since its inception in 2001—and just completed an acquisition this week of Operational Security Systems Inc. (OSS), an Atlanta, Ga.-based security integrator with an additional location in Orlando, Fla. Founded in 1972, Operational Security Systems is run by president Jim Coleman, who along with more than 50 colleagues from the company will be joining the Convergint team.

Moceri told SSN that he is excited to have Coleman and his entire team joining the Convergint Technologies family, as the company shares many of the same values as Convergint.

“We have a lot of respect for Jim and his company as he has created a strong culture and team that is very focused on the service side of the business, which is how we have grown our organization,” said Moceri. “In addition to being strong from a service perspective, Jim has developed a very strong engineering company and a solutions provider that brings additional capacity and capabilities to our team.”

“Operational Security Systems and Convergint Technologies share two common core values: looking after the needs of our customers and looking after our fellow colleagues,” Jim Coleman said in the announcement. “Joining the Operational Security Systems team with Convergint Technologies brings deeper resources to our clients and new and exciting opportunities for our colleagues. This acquisition will prove beneficial to all involved.”

Convergint Technologies has seen a steady track record of both organic growth and growth through acquisition since its founding in 2001.

“We continue to grow very aggressively organically, but you can only grow so fast organically, so when we have an opportunity like this to bring in good quality people all at one time, we certainly want to take advantage of that,” he said.

Will Convergint continue to stay active on the acquisition front? “Absolutely—stay tuned,” said Moceri. “As always, we’ve got a nice pipeline of acquisitions and we expect another exciting year on that front. We’ve started off very strong in the first quarter along with very strong organic growth over the last year and we continue to supplement that growth with acquisitions.”

In addition to this acquisition, the company just opened an office in Toronto, which is part of the company’s planned expansion in the greater Toronto area. The new office is strategically located in the Bell Trinity Square beside the Eaton Centre on the PATH system, which is mostly an underground walkway that links about 30 km of shopping, services, and entertainment in downtown Toronto, the company noted.

“This exciting new location enables us to be at the doorstep of the downtown Financial District and to support all of our existing and future clients in the area while delivering our Values & Beliefs to be our best customers’ best service provider,” Greg Taylor, vice president, Eastern Canada Operations for Convergint Technologies, said in the announcement.

Security and building automation technicians, as well as locksmith services, will also be added to this location to provide rapid response for clientele, and the new office will also serve as a satellite learning center. “We plan to host Lunch & Learns at the site with our technology partners to provide our clients with information about the latest trends and technologies in electronic security and building automation solutions,” Eric Heagle, business development manager for Convergint Technologies, said in the announcement.

SSN opens nominations for ‘20 under 40’ Class of 2017

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Security Systems News, for the 11th year in a row, is seeking the best and brightest young professionals in the security industry for its annual “20 under 40” awards.

"The award recognizes the next generation of leaders in our industry—the ones who are going to help push the security industry forward and drive the constant evolution in technology necessary to keep it strong and vibrant," said Paul Ragusa, editor of Security Systems News.

Nominations are now open. If an integrator, installer, monitoring center professional, dealer or end user stands out to you, feel free to submit their name here. Please specify which class your nomination is for—integrator, which encompasses roles within the industry, or end user. The deadline for nominations is Friday, June 30.

Employees from manufacturing or consulting companies are not eligible. However, they are encouraged to nominate an integrator or end user that is eligible. Nominees must be age 40 or younger—born in 1977 or later. You can nominate more than one person, and you can nominate yourself.

"Each year we look for security professionals who make everyone around them better through their dedication and hard work, and through their innovation and ambition to make a difference at their company or organization, and in the communities they work in," Ragusa said.

Profiles of each “20 under 40” award winner will appear at www.securitysystemsnews.com and in our print editions later this year.

All “20 under 40” award recipients will be honored at a special reception at SSN’s TechSec Solutions conference, held in Delray Beach, Fla., in February 2018. TechSec Solutions is the industry’s premier conference on new and emerging technologies, and “20 under 40” winners are often invited to speak at the conference.

Galaxy Control Systems embracing the cloud

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

At ISC West 2017 earlier this month, Galaxy Control Systems solidified its commitment to cloud-based solutions with the announcement of its new Cloud Concierge, a cloud-based access control and monitoring solution. Galaxy also just released a new whitepaper this week entitled, “Understanding Cloud Services for Access Control,” further exemplifying the company’s commitment to its customers by providing education and awareness. 

“Galaxy Control Systems recognized early on that cloud services had the potential to deliver new flexibility and benefits for the security market,” Lukas Le, director of Cloud Services, Galaxy Control Systems, told Security Systems News. Le said that Galaxy has been working with cloud and hosted solutions for years to develop a high level of experience and expertise so the company could provide leadership and strong support for its customers.

“We have also been watching the market to gauge the increasing level of interest, knowledge and acceptance of this new approach,” he explained. “Today, we see that the current mature state of the necessary technologies will let us leverage the recent release of our mobile applications while delivering on a business model that is mutually beneficial for the integrator, end user and Galaxy alike.”

“Security professionals—both channel and end users—are recognizing the operational and cost benefits of a hosted collaborative access control solution,” Rick Caruthers, executive vice president, Galaxy Control Systems, said in the announcement. “With Cloud Concierge, we’ve reduced the complexity to allow resellers to comfortably sell a cost-effective solution to their base without having to assume responsibilities associated with system monitoring and management.”

He continued, “By joining the Cloud Concierge program, integrators who specialize and excel in their specific areas can focus on what they do best rather than trying to provide an end-to-end solution themselves. Best of all, by working with trusted partners to deploy, administer and maintain systems, end users can devote their time and energy to their
core business and operations.”

Unlike a traditional access control system, where door locks and controllers are connected to on-premise access control servers that store the system settings, enrollees and rules, and run the access control software application, with the new Galaxy Control Systems cloud-based access control solution, the access control servers are located remotely.

“Door locks and controllers communicate with the remote cloud servers through an encrypted Internet connection,” said Le. “This arrangement offers security and maintenance advantages, and lets system administrators and service staff access the system from anywhere they can reach the Internet using a standard browser, with no special software required on their devices.”

Le said that there is an up-front cost savings for customers who are installing new systems, and for customers with existing systems “the choice of timing might be dependent on the age of the on-premise hardware, availability of service and maintenance staff, and similar factors,” he noted. “Initially, we will focus our efforts on our current dealers, and we expect that continued education using webinars, workshops and similar hands-on methods will continue to increase adoption.” 

Although there are many customers who understand the cloud, cloud service adoption “is primarily about educating our customers about the benefits.” Le said. “For those already familiar with the benefits of cloud services, it’s an easy discussion—these customers can’t wait to move their access control into the cloud. For those that are less familiar or less comfortable with cloud services, they will need a bit more education to prepare them to make this move.”

A good example of Galaxy’s ongoing commitment to educate and inform is the publishing if its new whitepaper, which provides insights into the growing realm of cloud-based services and how they are changing the way access control systems can be deployed and used. In the paper, readers will find an overview of cloud technology and learn how and where access control cloud services can be applied for maximum economic and security benefits to the organization. The whitepaper also touches on decision factors to assess when considering a move to cloud services, each of which helps inform the decision-making process.

“We recognize that not everyone in the security industry has the time or resources to stay current with new technologies,” Caruthers said in the whitepaper’s release. “We developed our new whitepaper to provide information for our community, to help accelerate their understanding of the benefits of access control cloud services.”

To access the full whitepaper, click here.

TMA announces annual meeting details

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—The Monitoring Association, formerly CSAA, announced details of its 2017 Annual Meeting—the first since the name change—which will be held at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz., October 7-11. Jack Uldrich, a global futurist, speaker and author of 11 books, will deliver the conference's keynote on Oct. 9.

Uldrich is a frequent speaker on emerging technology, change management and leadership and has addressed hundreds of corporations, associations and not-for-profit organizations, TMA noted in its announcement. 

“In the near future, the greatest change will be the accelerating rate of change itself,” Uldrich said in a prepared statement. “I’ll outline the trends transforming the world of tomorrow, as well as identify concrete actions business leaders can take today to future-proof themselves and their companies against ‘the tides of tomorrow,’” he added. 

“Over the past several years, we have ‘reimagined’ our annual meeting to provide participants with the kind of value in both content and engagement that is unmatched at any other industry event,” TMA president Pam Petrow said in a prepared statement. “2017 will build on our past successes – we’ll present a program of the kind of top-level engagement and professional development that our members have come to expect from our Annual Meeting, while we celebrate our new name and our mission to advance the professional monitoring industry.”

Additional education sessions at the Annual Meeting, which will be held Oct. 9 to 11, will focus on helping leaders address critical issues and challenges facing the monitoring industry, such as best practices in operations, executive management, technology updates, and telecomm issues, TMA said in its announcement. The complete roster of speakers will be announced over the summer. TMA will hold Board of Directors and Committee meetings October 7-8.

To see the preliminary schedule, register, and reserve hotel rooms for the TMA Annual Meeting, visit tma.us/2017am. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is approximately a 30-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Smarter consumers, smarter homes

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

LOWELL, Mass.—Consumers see more clearly how smart home devices can directly benefit their lives, and are planning to purchase more smart home devices in the future, according to a consumer survey commissioned by PlumChoice Inc., a provider of premium technical services for IoT and cloud brands, and the Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of leading global companies deploying Z-Wave.

According to this second annual consumer benchmark survey, titled, “2016: Year of the Smart Device,” 52 percent of all respondents plan to buy a smart device in the next two years, and of those who own smart devices, 84 percent said they may make another smart purchase in the next two years

“It’s clear from our data that not only has the smart home arrived, but the benefits of adding connectivity to the things in our home are finally being realized,” Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance, said in the announcement. “It’s exciting to finally see consumers understanding the value of connecting multiple devices together and to see categories like smart security, thermostats and safety grow year over year.”

The report helps device makers and their partners understand current connected and smart home device ownership, interest in future purchases and perceived smart home device benefits. In addition, it outlines the services that brands can tie to these products to drive more revenue and consumer loyalty, and highlights the need for companies to provide consumers a user experience that allows their smart home devices to fit easily into their lives.

With the majority of consumers reporting owning a total of four to six smart home devices (61 percent having interconnected some of those devices), interoperability becomes a key factor as consumers add more connected devices, according to the report.
   
“The smart home industry is thriving, and many companies are recognizing that their success is dependent on a seamless consumer user experience,” Noelani McGadden, vice president of IoT at PlumChoice, said in the press release. “Last year was a pivotal year for the smart home industry, with the number of people who own a smart device increasing by a staggering 259 percent. As smart home device adoption continues to grow, brands must cater to consumers who are expecting support services as part of their purchase, and at the very least provide installation support.”

According to the report, smart appliances (smart refrigerator, washer/dryer, etc.) and smart smoke detectors are among the smart home products with the highest year-over-year growth, with 267 percent and 250 percent respectively
   
All types of services and support expected from brands increased since 2015, with installation support listed as a top need at 68 percent, the report found.

The survey also examined consumer behavior—including purchase drivers and rate of adoption—of homeowners compared to renters, along with comparisons between age, gender and current device owners.

To see the full report, click here.

On location and on camera at ISC West

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

On the front page of this site, you’ll begin to see ssnTVnews video interviews posted each week from several members of the team, including myself, our editor Paul Ragusa, and SSN’s VP and group publisher Tim Purpura.

Each ISC West we talk on camera with a variety of companies—residential and commercial companies, monitoring centers, integrators, installers, research firms and manufacturers—to both hear about their latest initiatives as well as gain insight into the benefits of ISC West for companies that we speak with.

Up online now is my interview with Justin Bailey, COO of Avantguard, as well as Paul’s interview with PSA Security Network CEO Bill Bozeman.

In upcoming weeks, more videos will be released, featuring Dynamark, Security Partners, Convergint Technologies, Red Hawk Fire & Security and others.

One thing I’ve said about each industry event, including ISC West, is that it gives the editors a great chance to meet and talk face-to-face with companies; seeing as the Security Systems News office is based on the coast of Maine, most of our interviews are conducted over the phone.

Besides the opportunity to in person with professionals in the industry, it was great to be right on the show this year, able to see and feel the energy of this year’s attendance—which is up 3 percent from the previous year.

Additionally, early responses for our latest News Poll, asking readers about their experience with ISC West 2017, are also saying that traffic is up this year.

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