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Live from Gillette Stadium

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
1:10 p.m.: I've always wanted to write that as a title for a blog entry. Of course, that's because I wish I had Mike Reiss's job at the Boston Globe... Anyway, I'm at the Focus event put on by PSA Security and 1nService, which has as a goal encouraging more cooperation and partnership between their respective memberships - security integrators on the one hand, and IT/networking integrators on the other. So far, we've had lunch (vegetarian-friendly - nice!), and done some chit-chatting. Talked with Mike Hanlon, who's with Viewpoint CRM, the video-monitoring central station that's the third-party backbone behind Integrator Support, a company that PSA's Bill Bozeman helped start up and for which he serves on the board. Hanlon and Paul Bodell from IQinVision were talking about getting more integrators on board with the possibilities that video monitoring offers. One cool application Mike mentioned: At a new retail installation in Freeport, Maine, there will be kiosks on the street with interactive maps and such, but best of all there will be a help button that calls up a live operator - video and audio - at Viewpoint, of whom you can ask questions and get information. Not exactly security, but it's a security integrator that's doing the installation. Right now we watching a video about the integrated building from Panduit, whom I don't know well. 1:12 p.m.: Paul Cronin, head of 1nService is leading people through the sponsors. Paul Bodell is talking now: "We have the largest install base of megapixel cameras in the world ... we're profitable ... the company itself is built on putting more intelligence and processing out on the edge of the network. We were the first company to do image cropping on live images ... we're waiting for the analytics market to catch up with us." 1:15 p.m.: Bart Nanni from Intransa: "We're a manufacturer of IP storage .. we provide a very low-cost solution ... there's an awful lot of data that needs to be stored somewhere and managed effectively ... we have an IT background, been in physical security for the better part of a couple of years ... bringing reliability to the marketplace for highly available and fault-tolerant systems ... We are a member of PSA, which has done a fine job for us as a partner." 1:17 p.m.: Kelly Carlberg from Cisco: "Ray Columbe is here as well ... my role is how we manage our partners ... I'd like to hear some of your challenges. This is a new market for us ... we put partners together with partners, help them navigate Cisco ... then deploying a solution for customers ... 30 percent of our time is spent on how we go to market, it's not longer having a physical security partner, going in soup to nuts, do everything, today it's changing significantly. If it was nothing more than replacing coax, we wouldn't see the changes we see today. We're seeing multiple solutions collapsing onto the network ... customers looking for using that network for multiple things. Our challenge is to build programs that ensures that the customer is getting the solution deployed the way they expect it to ... they might understand the physical security evaluation, but they might not understand what happens when you put the solution on a WAN ... the IT guys know that no problem, but they might not know what a request-exit on a door is. We're starting to see video shared with UC, interlocking physical and logical security ... we're trying to allow all these different partners to work together. I want to hear what makes your job difficult, what you'd like to see from us in terms of putting together a program." 1:21 p.m.: Paul Cronin: "We're trying to create meaningful relationships so people can form partnerships afterward ... We're going to hear a couple of presentations and then we're going to break into two different groups ... your card is either pink or blue (it has nothing to do with anything) ... that will break the group up and then we'll share some insight. I'll be speaking about the IT side of the world, and Bill Bozeman will work with the networking member companies to provide insight into the physical space ... feel free to cross-pollinate." 1:23: Moving to the presentation area, to hear from Dan Dunkel and others. 1:35 p.m.: Paul Cronin: "Where is the industry today?" Having some technical difficulties. The video doesn't work. So, moving on to what is 1nService. "We're 10 years old - picture yourself at an industry event, and it seems like 10 years ago a lot of our member companies would get together and provide a lot of insight into x. So we thought maybe we should actually spend time sharing best practices and talking. You're scattered all over the continent, and you do x and I do y, and there's a little bit of a crossover, but not much, and I'd like to do x but I don't know how. "So we formed a corporation that enables the members to provide solutions and products outside of what they do themselves ... and to help with geographic reach of providing solutions ... and it's CEO to CEO, HR to HR, it's exchanging documents, comp plans, assessment documents, what's a project manager job description, then we hold forums where we educate our members and tackle some of the tougher issues. "At our CEO summit last month in Miami, for example, representing about $900 million in revenue, we talked about how we could penetrate the market and then work on how to team up and sell someone else's solutions so I'm the one neck, but I'm the trusted one neck. "Break out sessions: What's your number one painpoint? Out of the 33 companies that participated, it was interesting that they had similar problems. When you take those minds and put them together and talk strategically, out of that comes solutions that allow you to solve those problems. On another note, what are you CEO doing strategically, how are you approaching this market? These types of venues happens four times a year." "We're member driven, sponsored by suppliers. It's a lot of listservs. If you need a non-compete, a pricing model, you go out to the network and people share that information." 1:40 p.m.: About 20 people in the room, by show of hands, are 1nService members. Cronin: "So, who could help us find value. First we found Panduit, which led us to the physical security market. And then Bill [Bozeman] and I met 18 months ago, and we explored how that partnership could work. So turning it over to Bill..." Bill Bozeman: "The partnership wasn't that easy - an 18-month romance that we were finally able to close. So thank you for that help in that Paul. I was really, really wrong about my initial reaction to, understanding of, and comments about the whole convergence deal. Maybe it was pride, or my competitive nature. It started as us vs. them. Who was going to own the customer. It was the physical security vendors asking who was going to win the battle. Would it be the network savvy integrator, or would it be the physical security integrator. So we fought back and forth in the trade journals. And I would discuss who would win the battle. "But that just isn't going to work, guys. It will be all about partnering. There will be the occasional integrator who can do it all. Have all the Cisco certifications, know everything about wireless, and know everything about physical security. But they'll be few and far between. "So, thanks for coming out to this. If you guys just talk together, this event is a success. And this is an experiment. We have more physical security guys here - so, you guys, go find the blue badge guys. I don't think the blue badge guys have the same skill set in physical security that you do. "One example. I attended an event, and they vibe was that all the networking guys thought security was going to be easy. And I said, "Who's the AHJ?" Not one of them knew. If you don't know who the fire marshal is, you're not doing anything in security. Bill talks about his presentation at Barnes Buchanan last week. "This was the first year convergence has been talked about there. Things like managed services, which we call RMR in physical security, were talked about. The people with the money, they call it managed services. Tremendous discussion on the worth of managed services. The RMR on a home, they'll pay 36-44x. The financial geniuses see a similar value on managed services. Physical security integrators are struggling with this concept. They either don't get it or they're paralyzed with fear about how to get there. Burg guys got it 30 years ago. 1:48 p.m.: Things that are wrong about PSA Security. "We're not just small companies. We have large companies. We have public companies. Have to be at least $2 million to join. We have about 230 security systems integrators. Someone who spends the majority of his time installing, designing, monitoring controlled access, CCTV and their peripherals. We're not really life-safety, as in fire alarms. "Things are doing very well in Canada. Latin America not so much. It's hard to get paid in Latin America. So we clamped down on the credit and that's when the sales dried up. "We have incredible training. And I'm not talking about sales deals where the Sony rep stands up there for an hour and talks about his product. Last year we had a certification that lasted six days. And we don't make a profit at our PSA-TEC event. We try to break even, but we don't. It's the only event of its kind. "We're going to be working with ISC to do their CCTV and their access education. It's very close to a partnership. "We spent more than $100,000 on a national accounts program that's open to you to do for free. Partnerships are really hard, it's not just a handshake. We took this to the lawyers and the accountants and created a book on how to work together. All the way to resolving disasters. How to handle arbitration. "There's no sense recreating the wheel, so use this. It's expensive to do this stuff on your own. "We have approximately 190 some-odd vendors that we manage. Most of them are very specific to physical security. That's 90 percent of our core. Now, thanks to guys like Paul Cronin and Ray and Kelly, we're bringing in Panduit, megapixel products, things that will be interesting to the networking integrators. "Just think about how you can partner. We have the documentation. That's set. The partners are here." 1:55 p.m.: Paul Cronin: "So, as part of our partnership, you can join 1nService at a premium price, and 1nService integrators can buy with PSA pricing. And 1nService guys can come to PSA Tech." Bill Bozeman: "For example, we have an IT track there, and we're not experts in that, so we brought in 1nService to do that for us. Plus there's a business track and a physical security track." Cronin: "One of our members is a Cisco and networking trainer." Here's the video of where we are. It's working now. A film called "405." A guy is driving on his own down a deserted closed highway, the 405, and a plane is about to land on his head. He freaks. The plane lands behind him and rear ends him. He's now going 120 mph. There's a granny driving slow in front of him. He's honking the horn. She's not hearing. They go right by here. The plane and the guy in the car stop. The granny drives by and flips him off. Cronin: "Sometimes you just wonder: Is there a plane landing on my head. So I'm turning it over to Dan Dunkel, who'll talk about convergence. Not whether it's coming. It's coming." 2:00 p.m.: Dan Dunkel: He can't get his presentation to go full screen. I love it when high-tech guys can't make their presentations work. But I appreciate irony. Now it's working. "Recessionary decision making" - Is recessionary a word? Dunkel: "We're clearly in a recession. One thing to point out though: Convergence is an overused term. Talking about convergence, think about your pda. It's not a static term. It's not phsyical security applications on an IT network. Now you've got your electronic wallet, and soon that PDA will diagnose your heart attack. Just because Blackberry recorded bad earnings today, doesn't mean people aren't designing things to work on it and using the device to deploy a security policy. Cisco provides the intelligent network that makes these things possible. Convergence is just a bunch of phases." More presentation problems. "This has never happened to me before." Moving on without the slides. Now slides again. "In a recession, traditional spending is cut significantly, and business risk becomes a priority. ROI and TCO become much more important. Networks and storage are 2/3 of the budget. You have to be conversant in where that network and storage are leading. That's where a vendor like Intransa can help you - how video is going to impact data storage and management. "Strategy starts to trump tactical. IT is going to start getting a lot more invovled in security spending, because risk is changing, and many companies can't keep pace with the threats. So the demand the CSO places on his vendors is going to be changing, demanding a lot more. You're going to have to understand intelligent networking and storage infrastructures. "So, what's different this time? We're much more globally connected, but e-crime, which constitutes a lot of things, identity theft, fraudulent software, and e-crime passed drugs this year as the most profitable illicit activity. So we're now looking on how to protect intellectual security. And their global supply chains are at risk. They're about just in time, not about worrying what happens when a port is blown up. "Unprecedented amount of insider theft is taking place now. These are all issues for the CSO, the CIO, the CFO, and the board of directors. e-crime is rarely prosecuted, which makes it more productive. "The 'Unshakable IP Trend': the network is responisible for $3 trillion in transactions, a quarter of the U.S. GDP, so the IP network is here to stay and it's not going anywhere. It's got to be more secure, but it's got to be there and it's got to combat the global threat. "One major concern is that $200 billion annually in intellectual property theft is occuring. U.S. doesn't manufacture much anymore. It's our technology and intelligence, and it's getting ripped off by the Chinese, the Russians, the Israelis, the French. It's a huge, huge problem. "They're even more a target in a recessionary environment. "So, look at what the intelligence agencies are seeing today. Former DNI Mike McConnell said for the first time at the end of 2008 that cyber crime is a serious impact on the country's economy. First time it was ever mentioned in a national intelligence estimate. Smart companies that are watching this are realizing that their supply chains are at risk. The recession is not going to stop them from funding the protection of that supply chain. Spending on that is up 44 percent. They're laying people off, but they're not going to stop spending on securing networks and business operations. They have no choice. They can't ignore the risks. "Chinese hackers stole 30 million pages of information from NASA. They're tremendously difficult to catch. "When you start thinking about a trusted enterprise, what are they going to expect from their integrators? You've got to understand the global IP network, what an intelligent network is, and how to secure it. And you'll have to understand storage, too. IT is having more of a say in spending. Everybody is jostling for the limited budget, and IT is having more of a voice at the table, especially in a recession. "Collaboration between applications is important. Security is information, and the real benefit of that is sharing the information. So you can't do that with proprietary silos. We can debate whether it's a good thing or bad thing and what it does to margins, but it doesn't matter. The nature of risk is changing, becoming a lot harder to mitigate. You have to sell in a much more strategic way. Single-point solutoins are going to be a tough sell. "You have to be much more of a project manager than an installer, find those applications that are going to be the next generation of security and how they're going to be deployed on the network. You have to address blended threats strategically. "If I was an integrator right now, I'd be out there hiring an IT guy who understands these threats. Now is the time to take chances. Get some cyber experience on your staff. Companies want to limit the amount of vendors they have, as well, so if you have more staff who can do more things you can stay with a company and get more of the sale. "The requirements on integrators are going to be a lot more demanding. Start to see where those trends are occurring and where the money is going to be spent. On protecting the company, the brand, and the shareholder." 2:18 p.m.: Cronin: Was that a commercial for Dell? Industry consultant Adam Thermos: "There's a conspiracy against the Macintosh." More presentation battles. "I like the bleeding edge of technology. And I'm bleeding often. Here are some of the applications where we've been successful specifying IP networks. I never end up with an all IP solution, though, I always end up with hybrids. But I like the take-off point to be IP, and here's why: "As far as I'm concerned, we're not in a recession in the security marketplace. On the IP side, we're moving forward at a 12 percent increase in terms of expenditures. When the times are good, they buy security, and when the times are bad they buy even more security. The idea that there's a recession for security is purely a psychological thing. "There's a lot of fear out there, but our market is pretty safe. "So, why IP networks? When the system goes down, it's IT's fault! But really, I like lowered cabling cost. Pulling Cat 6, I can drive video, PTZ controls, and not have too many cables. Compression is a problem, blue-outs and pixelizations are a problem, it's a threat all the time. Bandwidth restrictions are in place. But from a budget standpoint, it's something that the client finds more palatable. I like to start from low budget. "And it allows me to have more scalability. With devices now we can scale everything. Adherance to standards is important, open databases, using the same standard protocols the IT folks have for the transmission of video and data." This guy is moving really fast and has a thick accent. So I'm going to cease with the direct quoting and start summarizing more. 2:26 p.m.: Thermos: More benefits of IP: Best of breed components, data redundancy, synergies through system integration, operational efficiencies. Right now his DVRs are all dying out, he says, and he's looking at edge storage and NVRs much more. Basically, he starts wanting to go IP, but ends up having to use hybrids systems. Full disclosure: He says he's never put out a 100 percent Cisco system yet. I'm not sure about why that disclosure has been made. Refers to Dunkel's presentation: Intellectual Property theft is a huge problem. It's just that no one talks about it because it's not tangible. You talk about it and people's glaze over. But that's where the real threat is. No one should care about the theft of actual equipment. He's tearing his hair out about bio-lab security. Look at Bush having signed an executive order about bio-security. It's a new frontier. The CDC is as good as the FAA is for airlines. Something about what if there's a dog infected with AIDS walking around in your neighborhood. There may be a language barrier thing going on. Says that we're beyond cable. We're pretty much all wireless now, he says. 100 MB wireless transmission. 20 miles. He's firing through all kinds of installations - NYC, Coventry, North Providence, Pawtucket, big municipal video installations. 750 cameras in Boston alone, 5,000 at the city's university's. Basically, he's showing us dozens and dozens of wireless IP video installations. A joke about selling Israeli technologies to the Germans and the Poles. A Chinese central station. Way too much information he just fired through. He says almost all the money came through private money. Says he hasn't seen a dollar from the DHS. He would go to the poor house if he relied on public money. Problems: compression, quality of picture, people are still saying that the analog picture is better. It's true. He says he has to destroy the picture to send it around. 2:37 Bill Hall, manager of access systems for Logan Airport: "The Logical Security of a Physical Security Network" Again, I'm going to go with summarizing. Getting tired of typing at full speed. Was a design engineer for MAC Systems. Worked with Dr. Thermos. Logan took a hard look at itself after 9/11. Wanted to take the system up to a significantly higher level. I was part of the consulting team at that point. In summer 2005 we layed out the new access and video system. It was quite a place to be. It's a campus like a college and university, and I did that with Dr. Thermos and the MAC systems days. But an airport is different. It's very dynamic. The weather and the economic conditions of the airlines affect us, but federal regulations don't allow us to go below a certain level of security. It's a big challenge. Now, being the end user, I've got a different view of the whole thing. Our whole system is based on an IP-based network. Dedicated network for the security network, which runs access control, badging, video management, and security incident and metrics reporting. Badging is different than access at an airport. It's a credential management thing, with different levels of vetting. More than 800 active portals. More than 700 cameras. This is a lot to manage, even if it's not as big as some airports. We realized in the early days from looking at the legacy system that it wasn't going to meet our needs. We needed the encoding of cameras and the central storage of information. The key to the whole thing is the successful operation of the network. We need to have a real-time operation of portals. Even though it works independently of the network, the FAA says we have to always be live with the portals. Have to know if real-time if something is breached. If you're a network integrator, you need to understand some basic needs of physical security, and if you're physical security, you need to understand the basics of the network. Just because a vendor tells you a camera is IP doesn't mean you can string 500 of them on the network and expect the system to work. Dedicated network: We started from step one and established a new network, even though one was in place. ACS control of network switch locations. The network switch is just as important as the door. If the network is compromised, the whole system is compromised. Where are you going to put the network components, how are you going to control access to them? Ours are in cabinets that are locked, in doors that are managed by access control, and we restrict access to those cabinets to only people who need to be in those cabinets. If you don't secure the network you risk being compromised. Multi-factor authentication of all network devices. We use MAC addresses, the network fingerprint, if it's not in a table then the device won't operate. If it's a work station that uses a log on, that needs to be authenticated through the system. The IP address of device is assigned. It's not just dynamic. If you have thousands of devices, you have to have a clear plan on how you're going to manage those addresses. Shape traffic through the network, profile the data devices. A network switch is a giant house full of doors. Some people throw all the doors open, but there's some vulnerability when you do that. We closed all the doors and asked what each appliance actually needs for doors to be open. That takes a lot of planning and time, but when you're done you have a lot of control of what data is moving across the network. Security integrator tips: You need to be knowledgable of network technologies. You need to understand, not necessarily certified, but know what a VPN is, what secured portals are, the fundamentals. Talk to your peers about what a product needs to operate on the network. Understand the capabilities and limitations of your systems. Don't just think, yeah, I need a network to hook my system up to. Know the limitations - how many users, what stream rate, who has access and how, get into the details of how they operate on the network. Work with a network integrator to secure the network. Lock out unauthorized access. And not just external. Internal. Could be a disgruntled employee. Define clear roles and responsibilities. Have a plan for who does what on the system. Work with the IT group there that's the client to make sure you have the resources you need to make the system work. Bill is actually a manager in the IT group. That signalled to him that this was a technology job first, a security job second. There are others who handle the "security." If you can work with a manager, say, who's your counterpart on the other side, IT vs. physical. 2:58: He's doing some tips for IT integrators. I'm taking a rest. 3:03: We're breaking into those groups now. This might not lend itself to live blogging. And my left hand is kind of numb after 4,300 words typing. We're getting another video, though, which looks to be Abbott and Costello. It's the bit, "What's your job?" "I work in a bakery." "What do you do?" "Loafing." "What? How do you get paid for loafing?" "Yeah, you gotta join the union." "What? I gotta join the union of loafing?" Pretty funny, actually. The idea is that if you can't talk the language of the industry, you're going to look like a boob. "My mother was one of the best loafers in the family." "You're not a loafer. You're just a lazy, good-for-nothing..." "What? I'm a great loafer!" Anyway... 3:16 - in the breakout session: Questions the physical guys are asking Paul Cronin about the networking side of things: 1. Bandwidth (apparently, this is a question as a word) 2. How do you find good networking techs and what do they cost? 3. VLAN? What's up with it? 4. Aren't there lower margins in networking installation? Paul's just collecting questions at this point. He's got another video, but he punts that. Now talking about crossing the chasm between IT and Physical. Having someone who can successfully navigate the jump. That leadership has to be someone you have a lot of confidence in internally, or someone external you bring in with serious contacts and knowledge base to revolutionize your organization. It's sitting down with a plan for measurable objectives. How many people to get trained, what percentage of sales will they account for, what are the milestones we'll manage by. It's very important that you create a strategic plan for getting across the chasm. Get your employees thinking about a major change for the organization. Join 1nService, PSA, other organizations. (well, no duh...) You need to invest time in getting to know people in the other adjacent market. Partnerships should be in the strategic plan, but maybe two years out - build the relationships first. 3:22 - still the breakout session You need to ask your clients what skills you need to have. Don't be afraid to say, I don't consider myself an expert in IT, but I'm vested in learned to provide you support. What do I need to be able to do and know. How do you get the type of people you need to lead this charge? First, organically grow it. Second, look outside to merge or acquire. Three, just put together employment opportunities that will attract experienced people to your organization. You can give them an opportunity to be a major player in your organization and in the security industry. Technical people like to be great. To give them that challenge, to be a productive member and be a part of making others successful through this revolution that they can help lead. That's huge. Certifications are important. It's a differentiator. If you have a strong client relationship, you might win a war with an IT company, but if you're in a straight-up competitive environment, it's going to be all about the certifications. It's a professional development road-map as well. Give them milestones and as they grow, you grow. It's very important. Marketing. Market yourself as an agent of change. You are on the wave, not getting run over by the wave. You're not waiting. You're soliciting new opportunity in your market space. In networking, marketing is what we do really well. We have every different type of document that highlights how we approach business. Part of that plan also needs to include what you're doing to prepare and what's relevant in your organization. Customer perceptions: Typically CIOs or CSOs. Talking about 250 employees to maybe 2,000 employees. That's where the majority of us are. The mid-tier marketplace. We're not competing on price, and we're not at the low level. We differentiate ourselves with story-line approaches. We have procedural based services. Things that are routine. Level 0, 1 engineers. It's customer care. (He's talking about proceduralizing a process. That's a mouthful.) Something like network monitoring, gathering information from the devices, and use that to troubleshoot networks. It's like the monitoring you do at the central station (he uses finger quote marks when he says central station and pronounces it like it's French or something), except we call the client, not the cops. We say there's a problem and that we're dealing with it. Now moving on to "On-Going Support." (The slide says 27x7. Apparently there are 27 hours in an IT company's day...) You'll need an after-hours rotation for that. (Of course, those central stations are 24x7, so this isn't a problem for security guys.) Our biggest problems are a loss of power, or the client made a change and didn't tell us about it. It's almost never equipment. A lot of times it's an application masking an equipment problem. You talk about bandwidth. Putting video on a network can really mess with a network. Who's problem is that? Is it the network guy's problem? Or is it the physical security guy who installed the camera? Actually, it's the person who designed it - the only guy not in the room. But really, it's the client's problem. And we need to figure out a way to fix it. A lot of you have resident or scheduled engineers at a site. It's less prevalent on our side. It's IP-based so it's mostly remote management. Professional services: We're charging something from $175 to $225 an hour, and it's portal to portal, which means you've got to have someone who can show up and fix a broad array of problems. Probably more sophisticated than your typical physical security tech. One of our biggest problems is that we have a lot of higher salaries. Bring your people in at the bottom level and move them up. Don't get trapped in buying a lot of top-end talent. That's not going to give you the same benefits. You need to leverage your organization. A lot of what we do is pre-paid consultation. We spend the time to plan ahead of time and make sure our network is still viable years from now. We need to allow them to substantiate their investment today. That allows them to have a planned out document that talks about what's going to power the business. It's all about application, application, application. As you talk to the CIOs, they want business talk. And this is where the high margin is. You win the client there. We'll do a five-day assessment, give them a list of parts, and let them go source it. The margin on the parts is nothing. It's all about the professional services and the consultation. You know the entire client network now. You can talk about logical, physical, the intelligent building, you can talk about a whole host of different things. Most of us play in these core technologies, generally three or four of these: Voice/IP telephony, LAN/WAN infrastructure, Wireless networks, servers, work stations, security (firewall, authentication, VPN/Cloud, intrusion detection), Data Center (applications, storage, power, cooling, business continuity). IT Solutions Pricing Review: Average product margins: 8-15 percent Manufacturer deal incentives: 5-10 percent Direct support contracts: 10-15 percent Service Margins Flat rate projects: 20-25 percent Labor rates: $60 - $175 Hr, 15-25 percent margin Advance Services: $150-$225 Hr, 20-30 percent Value Added Support services: 25-25 percent Managed Services: 35-45 percent 3:45: Paul still talking: That's why we're liking the top-level consultation. The more value we offer, the higher margin we get. Managed Services for us are very big. You can do a lot of it in the procedural part, you can put the change management into it, network optimization, things you can bundle. The networking guys are great at bundling - project management is very big. We don't need it all, but we like to make it be a bigger package. Never do what you're presented to do. Get higher, wider and deeper. Next steps: All the stuff he talked about at the beginning - find a partner, package yourself, get a leader, certifications, be an agent of change, etc. Next up is the cocktail hour. I'm pretty much done with the blogging at this point. I'll have a summary story on tomorrow's newswire. But if you've gotten this far, maybe you don't feel like reading that... See you tomorrow. Hoping to have a video with Bill Bozeman and Paul Cronin up later in the week.

A quick note on comments

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Hey everyone - thanks for the great comments lately. I really appreciate the feedback and discussion. Some of you may notice a delay in the posting of the comments. Because we've been getting so many spam comments (always from Russian domains - weird messages like, "I don't understand how to add you to my rss reader," over and over again), we've switched to approving comments by first-time posters before they appear. However, once your ip address is approved, your comments will appear automatically without me having to approve. Thought you'd want to know. Focus conference with PSA and 1nService later today.

Set your Outlook calendars

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Just wanted to give you a head's up that I'll be live blogging from a cool event tomorrow that's being put on by PSA Security and their IT counterparts 1nService, whom they've teamed with on a partnership (pdf alert). Basically, there will be a networking lunch and a networking cocktail hour, which is probably much of the point of the event-to get physical security and IT integrators chatting each other up over a few drinks-but there's also some interesting presentations on the convergence road map, how to collaborate with another company on a job, and how to build trusted partnerships. I'll be the one in the front typing away on the laptop. Look for posts starting at about 1:15 eastern and ending around 4:30 eastern. Oh, and it's at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play (you know, the three-time world champions?). Should be fun.

Provident's hiring (who else?)

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I've extolled Mike Jagger's virtues in this space before, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he's growing his company in down times. Anyone who wants to join his team at Provident Security, check this out. Jagger's always been right on the tip of web 2.0 (he's lamenting the fact that more security types haven't embraced Twitter), and here he is again, using something called Squidoo to advertise his sales openings. It's a nice presentation, full of YouTube clips and plenty of information about the company. And this is the way I think hiring has to start happening. The old days of sitting in a room and answering questions about a challenge you overcame and how you deal with too much work should be over. With all of the tools available to us now, we need to be seeking each other out - job seekers and employers - like people using dating sites. Job sites should be much more like match.com or eHarmony.com and much less like Monster and all the other crap that's out there. It shouldn't be top-down anymore (just like guys don't pay a dowery for their wives anymore). The best talent has value and is seeking a place to be inspired. The most inspirational places are looking for people who want more than a check. How do they find each other? That's what I keep thinking about when I hear all of these calls for job creation. I just don't think it's going to work like that anymore - these factories where people line up to punch the clock and make jokes about the boss and "management." That doesn't seem like the future. And maybe CEOs will be too ashamed to accept $20 million bonuses. Okay, I'm getting crazy now. I'll stop.

A look ahead from Panasonic's J.M. Allain

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Monday, February 9, 2009
I'm working on a story about how the 15,000 announced layoffs at Panasonic will affect their security division. Thus far, it looks like it won't affect it much at all. As a teaser, though, here's J.M. Allain answering the following question: Me: What is Panasonic’s opinion of the North American security marketplace? Will it grow in 2009? Will Panasonic security grow in 2009? Allain: The North American Security market should remain relatively strong throughout 2009. The majority of major projects slated for completion during the course of 2009 were put into motion prior to the economic conditions that prevailed in the fourth quarter of 2008. Although we do anticipate there will be budget reductions that will affect system expansion plans for existing installations, we remain cautiously optimistic that security will remain a priority across the private and public sectors. We anticipate growth for Panasonic System Solutions as a result of new product introductions we will be making throughout the course of the year that promise to deliver both enhanced value and performance – exactly what our customers’ are demanding during these tough economic times as accountability for all expenditures will be measured more closely than ever.

Talking to Pelco's Dean Meyer

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Friday, February 6, 2009
I had a great conversation with Dean Meyer yesterday and I thought I'd post some raw quotes. You'll see some of them in an edited version of the Pelco story on the front page, and some others of them in a little sidebar I'll put in the March paper. Anyway, here you go: Me: Why'd you close the access division? Dean: “Everyone is seeing a slowdown. And I see no reason why that’s going to change in the first or second quarter of this year. It’s not just our industry, and that’s not earth shattering news. “In light of that situation, the short version of it is that [the access control business] represents a very, very small amount of our revenue, but we spend a lot of engineering resources on it, and so as times become more challenging, we say, ‘Hey, we need to be more focused on what we know best, and that which contributes to the majority of our business: the cameras, and recording, and all the things that you know that we do. This is more about getting the whole team focused. And in all candor, [access control] was not something that just rolls off our tongue, and not something that everyone thought was easy to understand or embrace and really drive the sales. It’s a very small piece of our business, one on which we were spending more in R&D than we were getting in sales. "And with the large number of product launches we'll have this year, to ask marketing and sales to worry about the small business of access, it was just a distraction that we didn't need. From a pure business standpoint it was an easy decision. In my mind, it was a bit of a struggle in another way, in that it provides a bit of a conflict in strategy. We do a good job with partnering with a lot of the access control providers. We’re very open with them, and we look for pull-through business with them, and this was a bit confusing to them once it became part of Pelco. They wondered, 'Are you going to start competing with us?' So we kept it a low-end entry-level thing, which didn’t move well through our channel anyway. lt's more of a distribution channel vs. an integrator product. More of an add-on vs. a direct sale, although the access system could scale pretty well. But we always elected to position it as very low end because we didn't want it to compete with our strategy of partnering with the high end access providers." Me: Can you tell me who's going to buy it? Dean: “No. But I’ve been surprised with how many people said, ‘Hey, I might be interested.’” “I’m confident that we’re going to find a way to spin it off so that our customers will have a positive go-forward experience to have their installations sustained. We’ve had quite a few people come to us about it, and that will be good for customers. It’s not going to take a long time, either. I think we’ll move fairly quickly.” Me: What about the market in general? How will it look a year from now? Dean: "To a degree, I think it is a pretty, a very fragmented business, and we also know that Pelco has a lot of breadth in our offerings, and we’re talking about getting more focused. We're fortunate in a couple of ways. We’re global, which helps us a lot. Not all markets are impacted the same way, and we’re financially secure. So from a pure Pelco standpoint I feel quite good. I won’t speculate on our competitors, but I think it will do some separation. Some will handle more difficult times better than others. I think it will result in some consolidations, or depending on how band things get, there might be some who say, 'This doesn't make sense anymore.' "Most people are going to continue to try to chase the money. Where is the money? It’s going to be where these stimulus packages all fall out. Is it infrastructure? Probably. "It depends where ones strengths have been, as to whether you're going to definitely be successful getting through this. "How far reaching are you? You can play differently if you have a global reach. Not all markets are being impacted the same way. Others still have fairly good growth, even though that’s slowed down. We’re trying to be prudent where the best opportunities are and I’m sure we’re not unique in that regard. Everyone’s trying to figure out how to get through this. It’s a war. "I think it will streamline the industry before it’s all said and done." Me: I read recently that angel investors are pulling their money back. Will that affect security? Dean: "It will be interesting to see. A lot of niche companies many times advance the technology the fastest. They’re the market leaders because they’re very focused. It will be interesting to see what we read about as the buzz next year. Start ups with new innovative approaches-will end users be willing to spend their money on them? I think customers will be less apt to take risks on the next new things-and I’m not talking about IP, that's not new anymore. It might bring our whole industry's focus back to, Where is the 80 percent? again. We’ll maybe get back to what the day-in-day-out needs are that drive the business, vs. some of the fringe stuff that some of, all of us, get enamored with sometimes. "Our big message for 2009, and we had a really great sales meeting for our channel partners and our rep force in the U.S. a few weeks back, is that we’re very excited about the breadth of offerings we're going to come out with, and the breadth of IP camera offerings. I don’t think it’s me speaking out of school to say we haven’t necessarily been leading that aspect of the market, but we’ll be right up there leading with the rest of them come ISC West, and that is very much our excitement for 2009. "We don’t hesitate to invest in technology and sales growth."

Flint, Mich. considers fining alarm companies for false alarms

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Thursday, February 5, 2009
A story from ABC news affiliate WJRT in Flint, Mich. reports one city councilman pushing to assess false alarm fines against the alarm companies reporting alarms to police. Councilman Sheldon Neeley claimed in the story to believe that fees, currently charged to end users, should be shifted to the alarm company since they are the one's responsible for verifying the alarm and reporting it to authorities. Also, Neeley believes, alarm companies will be more capable of absorbing the cost. Critics, including Global Security owner Tonya Burns, of Neeley's proposal claim the added cost would simply be passed on to end users, anyway. "There are a lot of variables when you go into deciding what caused the false alarm. How can you label it [the alarm company’s fault] depending on—for example in the city of Flint, we have a lot of vacant homes and the landlords don’t heat the homes," Burns said. "They put security systems in them because they don’t want the piping, the furnace, the items stolen out of them, but they refuse to heat it, and that sets off the false alarms." stay tuned for updates on this story.

Two items: Brink's news and Blair leaves Breen team for Barack

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Here are a couple news items: First: Tyco International, parent company of ADT and SimplexGrinnell, announced last night that one of its board of directors is leaving the Breen team for a post in the Obama administration. Former Tyco director Admiral Dennis C. Blair was confirmed on Jan. 29 as U.S. Director of National Intelligence. Here's a description of what the the U.S. Director of National Intelligence does: The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) serves as the head of the Intelligence Community (IC), overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security. Working together with the Principal Deputy DNI (PDDNI) and with the assistance of Mission Managers and four Deputy Directors, the Office of the DNI's goal is to effectively integrate foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defense of the homeland and of United States interests abroad. In a prepared statement Tyco CEO Ed Breen said
"We congratulate Admiral Blair on his appointment to serve our country as Director of National Intelligence in the new administration of President Obama," said Ed Breen, Tyco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Admiral Blair has served our Board with distinction and dedication since 2003 and we thank him for his many contributions to Tyco."
Here's some more info on Blair from the press release: Admiral Blair (USN, ret.) joined Tyco's Board of Directors in 2003 and previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded research and development center. Admiral Blair retired as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command in 2002, after more than 34 years of service in the United States Navy. And an unrelated item. Things are looking good stock-wise for Brinks Home Security according to investor.com. This snippet from yesterday.
Brink's Home Security (CFL) rose 3%. The recent IPO hit a new high after a pullback to its 10-week line. This is the third straight day of gains in above-average volume. It's Relative Strength line is at an all-time high. Brink's is in the No. 4-ranked industry group.

VES launches a new site

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
VES announced Feb. 3 it had launched a new Web site that it promises has more information and is easier to navigate than previous incarnations. VES also promises further enhancements like a secure Dealer Area. It sounds like they're also going to be looking for site user input in the form of articles about installation and project experiences dealers have had. Interested dealers can submit their stories through the site. Here's what the release had to say about it:
If you have a story to tell or a site of specific interest please let us know we will be happy to consider it for inclusion on the site in the future. Remember this is your site which shoud provide information which you need, if you have any suggestions on how we can improve the site in future please let us know
More information can be attained by visiting the site or emailing VES for more info.

Our job board: Now fixed and better

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Okay, looks like we've added a bunch of relevant jobs to our job board. No longer is it just Brink's jobs. Yes, some security guard jobs have now made their way into the results, but we'll work on weeding those out. Feedback is appreciated.

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