If it’s time for a technology “refreshing,” as Tom Burns believes, then it’s also time for Ingram Micro, the world’s largest technology distributor with 2008 revenue of $34.4 billion, to eat into the physical security market.

At first, however, “we will take bite-sized steps,” says Burns, director of the just-formed Physical Security Division North America. In early November, saying it is helping value-added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers specialize and expand their service offerings, California-based Ingram Micro announced its Physical Security Division.
The “why” of the move is both simple and complex.
“There are three reasons,” observes Burns. There’s the convergence of IT and physical security, of course. And there’s the “low-hanging fruit” as security video moves to IP. Still, the number one reason is the growth and importance of integrated security solutions. While focusing its efforts on four primary security solution categories – alarm and fire, monitoring services, access control and video surveillance – Burns contends that “through all those pieces of data, there’s one unified body with greater value. We recognize that. Organizations are not just changing out cameras; they want to look at the whole thing. We need to share that vision.”
Similar to other distributors, albeit smaller ones, Ingram Micro views a two-way street as IT-centric VARs move into the physical security arena while security systems integrators go the other way, expanding more comfortably into the world of IT. It’s the same when it comes to vendor and manufacturer partners. Some of Ingram Micros’ current partners will now be able to leverage their physical security products and systems in addition to what is already offered in the distributor’s catalog. And those vendors on the security side, but not now represented by Ingram Micro, have a new reason to join the party.
Companies such as Axis Communications, Zebra Technologies, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Cisco Systems and Toshiba, to name a few, are already partners, with the capability to add their physical security offerings into the distributor’s mix. But, again, Burns sees the need to move cautiously when considering and vetting new manufacturer partners. “I don’t want to bring on 100 vendors just for the sake of 100 new vendors. Our aim is a full solution to resellers – ranging from good, to better to best – and check out solutions that make for an integrated approach for reseller customers.”
Burns doesn’t see IT VARs overrunning the physical security side. There are some missing components. They, by and large, aren’t physical security experts. “And they don’t have the knowledge and skill sets for installation” of much of the security gear. It’s obvious, however, that based on its current reseller stable, most of the action initially will be IT VARs moving into the physical security space.
Read more about this development in the December issue of SDM.