Although this issue of SDM wasn’t planned to carry a central theme, a central theme began to emerge in an unexpected way as our April issue developed: IP, or Internet Protocol, based security.

Yes, we know… IP is a “buzzword,” an overused acronym that graces too many brochures, subject lines of e-mail messages, and even magazine headlines, if I dare say so myself. But there’s no avoiding it – IP is the kingpin of almost every product or system development effort today. (And hence, you’re beginning to see more IP-centric educational programs develop around it, too.)

Something that crossed my desk a few weeks before we went to print was a press release from a security systems integrator that had struck up a partnership with a network company. Both businesses were headed by entrepreneurs; both were targeting similar clientele; both were located in Minneapolis. Why not see what they could do together, rather than continue to turn down projects for lack of expertise on either side? VTI Security and Parallel Technologies did just that, forming a partnership that the owners believe will allow them to grow by combining each firm’s core competencies. (Story begins on page 15.)

In our cover story, “Thinking Outside the Wired Box” (beginning on page 58), senior editor Russ Gager presents stories from three different systems integrators whose extremely high-end projects involve using an IP network to manage complex integrated systems for their clients.

As another example of how traditional security businesses can successfully handle the IT/IP side of things, SDM turned to Daniel Weiss, president and CEO of Infrastruct Security, featured on the cover this month. Weiss told SDM that Infrastruct also has a division that handles networks and infrastructure cabling for clients.

“That’s a significant part of our business,” Weiss admitted. “We find more and more in meetings that we’re selling security to the CIO, because it is perceived as a technology product. It used to be that we were in [meetings] with the CIO, CSO and security guy,” he said, adding that many times now the “security guy” is not even present anymore.

“So if you don’t learn how to talk IT, you’re going to be relegated to light retail and the home alarm markets,” Weiss pronounced.

The ability to do it all for their clients is one of Infrastruct Security’s competitive advantages. “We put in the entire infrastructure system – all the cabling, patch panels, racks – and put in all the security equipment and racks,” Weiss said. Offering expertise that encompasses both sides of this emerging “convergence” industry – when Infrastruct’s competitors can’t – increases its closing ratio by 40 percent, Weiss said.

Companies like Infrastruct, VTI Security, and the many others who are actively endeavoring to learn about IP- based security are going to be viewed as pioneers of the industry – those who are “on the face of IT.”