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Those predictions are coming home to roost

Image A report from IMS Research in the U.K. says IT managers are involved in 60 per cent of decisions to purchase IP-based physical security products.



July 7, 2009
By Jennifer Brown

The report, which is based on a survey of North American integrators
and installers of IP-based security products, also found that more than
75 per cent of the companies said they deal with IT managers more now
than they did a year ago.

A consultant I know who does a lot of work around the country confirmed
this, saying it’s a trend he’s definitely seen in Canada.

Is it any surprise? Not really, when you consider the risk new IP
devices can potentially add to a corporate network if not properly
vetted and managed. It has taken decades of hard lessons along the way
but IT departments have learned to build considerable checks into their
selection, deployment, management, testing and governance. Security
devices need to be put through the same processes. Standards are also
just starting to be considered for many technologies in this industry.

The survey may come as no surprise to those who have been listening to
warning calls from experts who embraced convergence years ago and have
been watching this migration happen. It may however send shivers down
your spine and into your wallet if you haven’t given it much thought,
or if you aren’t comfortable speaking to IT departments.

Perhaps, more importantly, you want to ask your customer if you can get
to know their IT manager a little better. IP products often use
existing networks and IT managers are working much closer with security
managers to facilitate the integration. That’s the best case scenario —
where the two are coming together and working harmoniously.

Another key finding from the research was that almost 60 per cent of
the systems installers surveyed thought that vendors do not provide
adequate support for their IP-based security products. And more than 40
per cent of systems integrators also agreed that vendors were not
meeting their needs.
Top of the list was additional training, telephone- and web-based support and better software and software development kits.

This reminds me of the shot Dave Tyson fired across the bow of security
installers at Security Canada Central two years ago in Toronto. The
former CSO at the City of Vancouver, who is now at eBay in Silicon
Valley, said, for the most part, vendors build faulty products to start
with and largely fail to support their product once on the market.

His message was that vendors don’t have a clear understanding of how
their products can impact an organization’s environment, largely
because most of the time they themselves don’t know.

That said, as I referenced in my editorial following ISC West this
year, the message the manufacturers were sending, at least at the
booths in Vegas, was that they were stepping up to help customers
better understand and manage their products.

And during a round table with the SP&T News editorial advisory
board late last year, Kevin Parisien, a project manager with MMM Group,
and Michael Martin of IBM both suggested lack of training on the part
of the installer was probably the more likely cause of product error.

If you want an example of a situation where a vendor is trying to
provide direct manufacturer assistance to a customer to keep them loyal
— albeit a very large and, I imagine, lucrative one — check out our
story on page 16 of the July issue or online in which Rogers Centre VP of stadium operations Mario Coutinho talks about why he ended up staying with Keyscan.

Yes, he liked the product, but what he seemed to really appreciate was
their willingness to handle on-going software development issues for
him with hands-on service.

At the end of the day, the reality is that an IT manager and a security
manager have one thing in common — understanding and mitigating risk in
their organizations.