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Convergence forcing departments to work together

Security managers can expect to see physical security functions become even more tightly entwined with other aspects of the enterprise as companies begin to adopt a more unified physical infrastructure (UPI) approach.



September 23, 2008
By Neil Sutton
Neil Sutton

Panduit, a Chicago firm that sells and installs UPI solutions, and
Internet giant Cisco Systems were in Toronto recently to sell
prospective buyers on the concept.

It’s not a matter of if, but when, said Doug Raymond, vice-president of measurement and instrumentation at Frost and Sullivan, who was invited to speak at the Panduit event.

Internet Protocol (IP) is already acting as the catalyst for greater integration between various aspects of the enterprise. Security installers and professionals are currently aware of the amount of cross pollination between physical security and IT, but eventually, everything from data management to daylight harvesting (a means to store light and cut back on energy bills) will exist on the same network.

Integration is being driven by necessity, said Raymond. “Right now, the infrastructure is, at best haphazard.” In order for enterprises to meet the needs of growing complexity and reduce application downtime, they will have to embrace a more holistic approach.

“There’s a lack of understanding for why this is so important to the industry,” said Raymond. “Managing infrastructure is just as important as the computers that you buy. UPI addresses these key issues.”

UPI involves a move away from siloed, propriety systems towards open standards that allow for integration and interoperability.

“This will change the way people work; this will change the way buildings are built.”

“Increased demand for IP is causing these systems to talk to one another,” said Vineeth Ram, Panduit’s vice-president of global marketing, but it’s the also need to drive down overhead by improving resource management. Embracing green technologies, like daylight harvesting, can also help reduce an enterprise’s environmental footprint and cut energy bills.

For Panduit, that means a series of solutions that can be harnessed through IP infrastructure and work in co-operation with systems from other companies like IBM and Cisco systems.

Cisco is currently supporting its end of the UPI initiative through its connected real estate solution.

According to a whitepaper published by the company: “The problem that CCRE addresses is that currently most buildings and campuses today are constructed with multiple proprietary networks to run systems such as HVAC, security and access, energy, lighting, and fire and safety as well as separate voice and data telecommunications networks. As a result we see buildings that are complex to operate, with high installation, integration and ongoing maintenance costs, and limited automation functionality. The CCRE framework promotes the convergence of these numerous networks onto the open standard of IP to streamline processes by providing a single connection for all building and IT systems.”

According to Rick Huijbrechts, director of real estate solutions for Cisco, it requires a mind shift from enterprises to plan better and work smarter.

For example, security cameras should be employed not only to capture video of the premises but also work towards energy management goals. For example, cameras can keeping track of which employees are in the building. If an employee is on vacation or out of the office, there’s no reason to supply light or air conditioning to his office.

A number of real estate ventures which take UPI into account, including Cisco and Panduit offices, are already underway, but it will take another decade before “true” UPI will be realized, said Ram. “It’s a 10-year journey,” he said.