The convergence of physical and logical security is now in full swing. Perhaps the position of chief information security officer (CISO) best exemplifies the merger of the security profession as a whole. While the reporting structure will vary from company to corporation or within a given industry segment (chief executive officer, chief information officer (CIO), chief risk officer, etc.) the emphasis on converging security and IT is apparent.

The CISO position promotes the messaging to senior levels and the board of directors that “security is a business practice” just like other departments in the organization. Successful security integrators need to align closely with the CISO to maximize their business opportunities. With that goal in mind, an outstanding organization exists to assist those efforts.

In March, I attended one of the best networking events of my entire career in Atlanta. The Executive Alliance is the brainchild of two visionary women, Mary Lou Heastings and Marci McCarthy. Both are experts at networking security executives in an informal business setting while understanding the powerful draw of peer recognition and collaboration.

Along with other programs in IT, the Executive Alliance runs the Information Security Executive Awards (ISE) program, (, a series of regional and national events that in my opinion are “a wedding” for the regional CISO community. While a small group of vendors (10 to 12) act as sponsors, it is not a heavy sales environment, but a gathering to share security best practices with a focus on innovative ideas.  By the way, the majority of the vendors are repeat participants of the event, now in its seventh year, and are very supportive from a senior level contact and lead generation standpoint.

Perhaps equally important, the many CISOs (and CIOs and security directors) that I spoke with were extremely enthusiastic and overwhelmingly repeat participants. This setting is not only tailor made for Cisco Systems, Diebold, EMC and Johnson Controls, but also the regional/domestic integrators like Tech Systems, Convergint Technologies, Adesta and Henry Brothers, to name a few.

The event took place at the Westin Hotel in beautiful Buckhead with the CISOs and sponsors gathering in a group setting during day one and the morning of day two to share presentations and thoughts on everything from best practices to selling security return on investment to senior management. The industries represented included financial, health care, military (Air Force), retail, pharmaceutical, state and local government and transportation.

While the event appears to be top-heavy on the information security side (a clear and present revenue opportunity for security integrators), these CISOs are also deploying video surveillance, biometrics and access control solutions.

The winner of the Regional CISO of the Year award represented Broward Health, and I was interested to note that he feels that identity management is the key enabling technology for his security business practice.

Unfortunately, the Dallas event coincides with ISC West, but I plan to attend the session on May 4-5 in Washington D.C. at the Ritz Carlton. Former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, will be the keynote.

Our industry needs to converge upon these CISO events to better position our security solutions. An ideal marriage would be Securing New Ground / Security 500 and the ISE in New York City in November. In the meantime, upgrade your professional contacts and integration intelligence by attending an ISE event  (a.k.a. a CISO “wedding”) in your region.

You will thank me later!