Physical Security Leverages Secure Borderless Networks

January 24, 2011

A simple web search for the term “physical security” yields nearly 13 million results. A quick perusal of the first dozen or so yields little argument over the basic meaning of the phrase. As one well-known site defines it, “Physical security is the protection of personnel, hardware, programs, networks, and data from physical circumstances and events that could cause serious losses or damage to an enterprise, agency, or institution. This includes protection from fire, natural disasters, burglary, theft, vandalism, and terrorism.”

Since the Nexus Physical Security team is exhibiting at AFCEA West this week, this topic has been top-of-mind and we felt it was definitely worthy of a blog post. At Nexus, we pride ourselves on engineering and deploying technology-based systems that protect the people, places and things that are important, providing security as a service of the network. Over the past few decades, security solutions have evolved from legacy, serial-based communications options to highly sophisticated, integrated, converged, IT-based systems.

Providing physical security as a service of the network has multiple advantages. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) software is a unique combination of video management for security and surveillance applications along with situation (incident and event) management. In Frost & Sullivan’s recent report, “Analysis of the Worldwide Physical Security Information Management Market” (Nov, 2010), the worldwide PSIM market is predicted to grow from $80 million in 2009 to $544 million in 2015, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 37%. Even a cursory look at the most obvious benefits helps explain the phenomenal growth.

Traditionally, organizations employed a series of video surveillance cameras to capture video, monitoring access points and “virtually” patrolling large physical areas. But those feeds had to be monitored or reviewed in real-time in order to stop an imminent threat, and the success rate was only as good as the reviewer(s). PSIM software can now automatically review incoming video footage, comparing it to a set of previously programmed standards and signaling when an exception occurs. The system then sends an automatic alert to a smartphone client, dispatching the closest personnel, and including the video snippet in question, so responders have instant intel on the situation or suspect.

In addition to the obvious threat-deterrent and threat-resolution benefits, these applications can also be used to improve customer service. For example, the same video surveillance system that monitors the line of tellers at a bank can be programmed to determine when the line of customers reaches a certain point, and to alert additional tellers to open when needed. In retail settings, video analytics can be used to identify groups of people throughout the store, out-of-bounds behavior, and lengthening checkout lines. They can even help retailers evaluate the effectiveness of merchandising displays and advertising by capturing customer reactions.

Frost & Sullivan’s report concludes that “Declining costs and greater sophistication are boosting the adoption of PSIM” and the advanced use of wizards and plug-and-play technology makes PSIM solutions viable not just for critical infrastructure protection and homeland security, but also for large- and medium-sized organizations.


Advanced Collaboration Brings More Bang for the Buck

January 13, 2011

Companies deploying IP-enabled, advanced collaboration tools are realizing significant gains in business performance, according to an extensive study by Frost and Sullivan. In fact, the more advanced their collaboration deployment, the more impact on performance they are likely to realize.

With companies today deploying IP-based applications such as presence, team spaces, document sharing, unified communications, and immersive video conferencing, the researchers wanted to find out how much value they are realizing from their implementations.

One indicator of interest in unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) is growing demand. While 46% of the U.S. companies in its survey have deployed such solutions already, more than 80% of the organizations that have not deployed them intend to do so within the next two to three years.  “IT managers in these organizations cite collaboration-enabled applications in which a worker can launch collaboration tools within an existing software application (21 percent), presence-enabled applications (18 percent), and immersive video (18 percent) as the top UC&C tools they plan to set up in their organizations in the near future,” the report states.

Of those firms that already had deployed collaboration tools, 72 percent stated that they experienced better performance. Where was performance improvement greatest? Innovation (68 percent), Sales Growth (76 percent), and Profit Growth (71 percent).

As part of its research, Frost and Sullivan identified organizations based on their level of collaboration and reliance on collaborative tools:

FrostSullivan-collabchart
What the research firm found (see chart below) is that there is “a continuum of collaboration-driven performance, such that better performance is related to the degree and sophistication of an organization’s deployment of collaboration tools. Lower levels of collaboration technology deployment and utilization are linked with lower levels of performance; whereas high degrees of deployment are linked with higher levels of performance.”

FrostSullivan-collabgraph

Such results, based on a performance index developed by the researchers, indicate that even minimal collaboration capabilities can deliver significant performance gains. However, top performers also tended to be the most advanced in terms of collaborative tool usage.

“Clearly, the deployment and use of collaboration tools impacts organizational performance,” the report states. “As organizations deploy an increasingly sophisticated set of collaboration capabilities, they are able to perform correspondingly better on several top-level business metrics.”


The Gifts of Cloud

January 4, 2011

It’s the New Year, and like school children coming back from their holiday break, we took a minute to compare notes on our gifts. This article by James Urquhart seems to sum up, as he puts it, “The top 12 gifts of cloud from 2010.” The “gifts” that make his list:

  1. The growth of cloud and cloud capacity
  2. The acceptance of the cloud model
  3. Private cloud debated…to a truce
  4. APIs in–and out–of focus
  5. Cloud legal issues come to the forefront
  6. Cloud economics defined
  7. The rise of DevOps
  8. Open source both challenged and engaged
  9. Introducing OpenStack
  10. Amazon Web Services marches on
  11. Platform as a Service steps up its game
  12. Traditional IT vendors take their best shots

Whether or not you agree with the list, or consider them gifts, it’s a pretty good look back at 2010 and how far the cloud has come.

As we enter 2011, it’s time to start taking stock of how the cloud will change business models and the traditional roles of IT. To kick-start your thinking (and maybe some planning), here’s a great summary of virtualization and cloud computing predictions for 2011 from leading analysis firms.


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