Nat Aryucharoen, CCNA, system support specialist, configures the video security system in the lab of Tech Systems Inc., Duluth, Ga.

Tech Systems Inc., Duluth, Ga., has become the fourth security systems integrator in the U.S. to meet the certification process to become an Authorized Technology Partner (ATP) of Cisco Systems, San Jose, Calif.

The ATP designation recognizes Tech Systems Inc. for its ability to provide the advanced technical skills and lifecycle services required to deploy Cisco’s network-based physical security solutions.

“This means we have gone the extra step and taken the extra efforts to have not only security-certified and trained personnel, but IT-trained and certified personnel,” pointed out Guerry Bruner, Tech Systems’ vice president. “What we hope it means in the long run is additional business that we may not have been able to get before, and business in a new realm.

“In our position, we don’t feel like it’s about the lock on the door or the card reader or the camera so much as it is about truly providing a business solution,” Bruner continued. “Risk management, audit compliance, that whole realm has been more on the IT side of the business and not in traditional security. It’s so much more about being able to provide those solutions to our clients.”

Already the company has won a major security job in Kansas City, Mo., while dealing only with the IT department of the corporation. “Would we have gotten that a year ago?” Bruner asked. “Probably not.”

However, the cost of becoming a Cisco ATP physical security partner is significant, he conceded. “With the required lab equipment and employment of certified personnel, costs easily exceed $300,000 today,” Bruner estimated. “Having personnel on staff with Cisco and Microsoft, as well as database (SQL, Oracle) and network certifications, is absolutely necessary in today’s market.”

Of a staff of 150 full-timeTech Systems employees in seven offices coast-to-coast, 10 are IT personnel, he noted. Two are Cisco-certified Network Associates (CCNAs) and one is a Cisco-certified Design Associate (CCDA). Three others are taking CCNA certification courses. Additionally, one employee is a certified information security systems professional (CISSP) and 15 are certified on Cisco’s physical security products.

“Most people think of convergence as an IP camera or a smart card,” Bruner noted. “It’s so much more than that. It’s people and processes and technology.

“How does it affect the people?” he asked. “What processes are required to be compliant, to deal with an audit? Look at the technology to provide that solution — that’s the key. I don’t think it’s just one thing. Convergence means a whole lot more.”