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Ingram Micro expands physical security division

We’ve already seen traditional IT vendors and distributors make moves into the physical security market. IBM and Cisco have both made some inroads in this space, and IT distributor Synnex has long dabbled in physical security.

October 18, 2011  By Vawn Himmelsbach

But global information technology distributor Ingram Micro is making a big push into physical security in Canada, following in the footsteps of its U.S. counterpart. Ingram Micro Canada is investing more resources to expand its Physical Security Solutions Division here, including dedicated personnel, greater sales support and more technical training. Solutions include surveillance, access control and monitoring services.

“In the world we’re living in now, security is much more prevalent,” said Dave Mason, vice-president of sales for Ingram Micro Canada. “Growth in edge devices tells us it’s a market that will see significant growth in the next two to five years. We expect big things out of this division.”

In the U.S., Ingram rolled out a physical security practice over the past year, and that will form the basis of the Canadian practice.

“We’ve seen a good pickup of interest (in the U.S.), so it was a good time for us to launch in Canada,” said Mason. “We’ll utilize resources and best practices, which will allow us to get into the market perhaps quicker than we could have otherwise.”


Also, traditional IT vendors have already entered this space. Cisco, Sony, Panasonic, D-Link — they all have parts of their portfolio in physical security, so it’s a natural extension,” said Mason. “We’ll follow them to some level.”

Though Ingram is known as a broad-line distributor, selling a vast array of products from a vast number of vendors to a broad base of IT resellers, Mason says Ingram is positioning itself as more of a value-added distributor in the physical security segment. Over the coming year, the distributor will focus its efforts on educating its dealer network through road shows and technology seminars to build a more comprehensive Canadian practice.

But Ingram’s job will be two-fold: to educate IT resellers about physical security, and to educate physical security dealers about IT.

“I see a convergence of those channels,” said Mason. “Traditional security is going to need to understand the backbone of the network and IP in general, so there’s an opportunity to bring traditional security dealers into more of a technology discussion.”

Ingram’s push into physical security continues the trend toward convergence of security and IT, said Ethan Ace, a researcher with IP Video Market Info. He believes, however, this is being driven more from the IT side rather than the physical security side. “IT integrators are far more likely to add security to their portfolio than security integrators are to add anything IT-related to theirs,” he said.

The main thing that Ingram brings to the table is a better selection of brands, he added. “Today, integrators can get networking gear from the security or low-voltage distributors like ADI and Tri-Ed, but it’s rarely from top-notch providers like Cisco, HP, SonicWALL and others.”

And in today’s world, separating IT from physical security is no longer an option. Even small DVR installations these days require at least some knowledge, said Ace, as users want to view video remotely.  And sometimes even those installs require setting up a basic VPN between sites, which, on a daily basis, was unheard of five years ago.

“I think security dealers, for the most part, will not see the value in changing to an IT distributor like Ingram,” said Ace. “What it mostly will mean is that those who aren’t willing to adapt and improve their IT capabilities will continue to lose market share or excel only in a small niche.”

Distributors that specialize in physical security aren’t immune to these changes either. ADI, for example, is offering a variety of hybrid solutions to help dealers make an easier transition into the IP space. ADI recently created a Network Systems product category and expanded its offering to include infrastructure solutions, and has trained up its entire sales organization.

To help dealers get up-to-date on this technology, ADI has also incorporated more IP-based training into its education model, including new courses, in-branch training events, webinars and road shows.

“The convergence of IT security and physical security is spreading, and it is clear that IP technology will be the driving force behind overall growth in the video surveillance industry,” said John Sullivan, senior vice-president of sales with ADI. “Dealers need to embrace this technology and recognize the opportunity for potential growth.”

IP surveillance has really triggered this move to convergence, said James Quin, lead research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. “We’re only now seeing common use of the same technology capabilities.”

So it does make sense, to a certain degree, for Ingram to move more into physical security, he added. While there hasn’t exactly been a huge buzz around convergence, there have been low murmurings, and some large organizations are starting to bring these two pieces together.

But there could be more to it. When you look at the markets in general and at the tremendous amount of acquisition going on, small niche players are being bought out or are going out of business, said Quin. Bigger players are seeing revenues flatten in traditional markets and are looking for ways to drive that revenue growth — by entering new markets, developing new technologies or buying somebody who already has it.

“In the distribution world, maybe we’re starting to look at markets leveling off in terms of traditional IT security, so they’re looking for a way to add value to their clients,” said Quin.

So can Ingram bring value to the game? Ingram points to its depth and breadth of vendor partnerships and its tech support team with cross-platform expertise. “We’re providing a single location for resellers to access all physical solutions,” said Mason. “It’s a natural extension of the capabilities of our current technology dealers, so we think there’s a very good play for our partners.”

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