There’s no doubt that convergence is a hot button. There are myriad definitions, often based on the perspective of an end user or the market focus of a vendor.

Here is an interview with Michael Cation, CEO of NovusEdge, Austin, Texas, which provides one valuable viewpoint.

“Convergence should meet business needs to reduce costs, share resources and improve efficiency, and at the same time, meet the standards-based requirements of the IT department,” says Michael Cation.

ZALUD REPORT: What do today’s security professionals need to know about the convergence of physical security, IT and building automation systems?

CATION: History has shown that business economics, coupled with IT technology’s rate of change, will drive ever improving and converged solutions. One example of that trend is the convergence between physical security and IT “cyber” security. However, we believe that is only one part of the convergence story. There is a parallel and complimentary convergence between physical security and building automation, which will drive a consolidation of previously isolated solutions. The value added possibilities for such a consolidation include common access cards, shared video surveillance, energy management, integration with IT business processes, one corporate-wide security policy, etc. There are two major implications to security professionals for such a change:

Security professionals will soon be expected to manage integrated solutions that serve the needs of security, facilities management and IT professionals.

The solutions will need to be built on an open, standards-based architecture.

ZALUD REPORT: Why is it important to offer a product based on an open architecture vs. a closed proprietary system?

CATION: Only a security solution that is truly open can integrate with existing building automation consoles, corporate IP networks and IT network management systems.

ZALUD REPORT: How does using a distributed physical asset protection solution superior to a solely centralized approach improve an overall security efforts?

CATION: By distributing the control and intelligence for physical asset protection at the point of need, the system responds to alerts automatically and in real-time. Not only does this increase the speed of response, this approach is more reliable as compared to centralized, server-bound solutions. In addition, by utilizing the existing IP network as the backbone for the system, it can be managed and monitored from anywhere simply by using a browser. This increases the quality of security as well as significantly reducing the cost.

ZALUD REPORT: Explain the new role of the system integrator in responding to the demand for open standards and converged security systems?

CATION: One if the biggest changes is the expanding challenges being faced by facility managers today. A recent survey identified increased security as one of the most important issues affecting the jobs of facility managers – second only to the impact of computers. This trend has affected the supplier/channel side in two ways: first, the facility manager, faced with reducing costs, reducing liabilities and increasing productivity is now demanding an integrated building automation and security solution. Second, the facility manager is looking to the incumbent, trusted, local provider of the building automation system to provide an integrated solution that includes access control, video and environmental monitoring. The building automation system integrators benefited from understanding and embracing Internet networking and are uniquely positioned.

ZALUD REPORT: What types of technologies and products are essential to bring about complete convergence?

CATION: The key to complete asset protection is to provide a system that integrates access control, video surveillance and environmental monitoring. The system must be open and standards-based in order to connect with all card readers, cameras, sensors or management consoles. In addition, the system architecture should be IP-based in order to distribute the application and intelligence at the edge of the network while connecting to backend management consoles – ideally one that integrates security, building automation and IT operations.