THE MAGAZINE

The Shape of Security to Come

By Sherry Harowitz

As a liquid takes the shape of its container, so security is being reshaped in ways large and small by the movement of its applications to the IT environment. Consider that in “Surveillance Learning Curve,” (page 60) when the IT department takes charge of installing IP video in a school, it selects iSCI storage, because the IT staff already uses that technology. A network video recorder—familiar to security professionals—is never considered, because it is foreign to the IT project manager.

There are far bigger changes ahead. As the security industry moves toward a network-based model for supporting the technology function, it will have to learn to be what Cisco Systems, Inc., Physical Security Manager Ray Coulombe calls a “good network citizen.”

The industry has already made efforts to move toward interoperability. For example, Panasonic Systems Company’s Julianna Benedick notes, “In response to this trend of more network-based infrastructure, we’ve really had to open ourselves up and become less proprietary.”

But security manufacturers have largely done this by developing software “bridge” code with select partners. Those bridges work in some cases and not in others. As a result, “every project becomes an adventure,” Coulombe says.

That’s created a secondary need. “We are hearing customers saying they want multivendor support. They may have Lenel in one office, facility, or city and Software House in another, and they want to centrally manage all of that,” says Johnson Controls’ John Fenske. To provide that, Johnson Controls has partnered with Orsus, a vendor-agnostic system that sits on top of it all. “We take any API, any edge device, and we bring it into one single interface,” explains Gary O’Neal of Orsus.

That’s one way of dealing with the messy mix of legacy systems. Going forward, the Security Industry Association is developing standards that could help manufacturers build truly interoperable security devices, but that still doesn’t address the network issue, says Coulombe. Now that physical security systems are increasingly connected to corporate networks, IT directors are going to insist that they comply with basic network protocols, he says.

Coulombe gives this example: There is a network security standard that allows each port on an Ethernet switch to grant or deny access to any attached device. Most edge devices have agents built in that work in concert with that protocol to maintain edge security. “That’s a well-known protocol in the IT industry,” says Coulombe. But it’s lacking in most security equipment, such as IP cameras.

Similarly, there should be standards for pan-tilt-zoom, standards for analytics, and protocols to make video more network-friendly and to ensure real-time data flow, he says.

This standardization could yield lower costs, greater reliability, and more business efficiency. Will it really happen? There’s considerable resistance from companies reluctant to give away their proprietary edge. But, says Coulombe, “the market dynamic is going to force it.”

 

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