The physical security market (we’re talking access control and intrusion detection systems) has been merging with the IP world for several years. The challenge has been that traditional security integrators don’t necessarily have the network know-how, while networking VARs don’t necessarily understand the ins and outs of logical security. So there’s been a need to bring those worlds together.
Ingram is now in the business of selling automated door locks and fire control systems. That doesn’t mean VARs will be hawking alarm systems like a door-to-door salesman – these systems are becoming highly sophisticated, moving from analogue to IP, so they can now be integrated onto the network and supported by the IT department. And that means customers who turn to VARs to help them protect their virtual domain can now turn to those VARs to help them protect their brick-and-mortar facilities.
Ingram is not the first distributor to recognize this. In fact, the distie hasn’t exactly been quick to jump on the physical security bandwagon. Tech Data launched a Physical Security Specialized Business Unit to support IP-enabled security products back in April 2006. Ingram has been eyeing the market since, but only now is taking the plunge.
The market has continued to gain support. Back in February, Cisco joined forces with Pelco, one of the biggest players in the physical security world, to allow Pelco to deliver Cisco networking-based physical security solutions. The physical security market grew about 10 per cent in 2008, according to Pelco, but network-based physical security grew 32 per cent. And that’s despite the recession.
Perhaps that’s why Ingram sees this as an opportune time to get in on the action with the announcement of a new Physical Security Division, led by Tom Burns, director of Ingram Micro North America. The division brings together physical security products and services that support integrated security solutions, focused on four areas: alarm and fire, monitoring services, access control and video surveillance. And yes, it’s available in Canada.
Of course, Ingram will also offer training, tech support and specialized vendor channel programs (which will be necessary for this space). At this point, Ingram will be playing catch-up to Tech Data, which has already developed significant expertise and partnerships in the physical security market. But, like Tech Data, Ingram has the scale of a broadline distributor, which appeals to vendors and VARs alike.
But the road to convergence has been slow and arduous, despite the fact vendors and distributors clearly see opportunities here. The problem for end-user customers is bringing those two worlds together, because typically physical security and IT are separate divisions, with separate management and budgets. And while many say convergence is inevitable – and makes sense on so many levels – the roadblock is resistance to change.
Change is hard. But having another big distributor get in on the game increases awareness of convergence – and of the opportunities it can create.