I recently attended the 2011 Black Hat cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas. I recommend more physical security integrators take part in this venue to better understand the converging nature of the security business. I don’t expect physical system integrators to leap into cybersecurity tomorrow, but, these vendors in the cybersecurity arena are making money, economy be damned. The response to my question, “How’s business?” ranged from “Excellent” to “Incredible.” Cybersecurity and cloud computing are the future of our “physical” security market, and these vendors are looking for partners.

Black Hat’s record attendance was more than 6,000. The 60-plus exhibitors included traditional mega vendors like IBM, HP, Microsoft and Cisco, along with cloud computing plays like Qualys (Software as a Service), Rackspace (hosted cloud services), and global security solution providers like McAfee along with small and medium businesses (SMB), which are cyber niche players. These solution providers can extend the portfolios of integrators deploying a phased approach into this market.

I met a former colleague from years past. This gentleman is a technician who is a Cisco certified network associate, Microsoft certified database administrator and systems engineer, and a master certified Novell NetWare engineer. He sold his small integrator business years ago and left high tech. He is starting another business and his strategy might interest other integrators. Bob has been watching the physical and IT security markets over the last several years and recognizes both the convergence aspect and the cloud / cyber play. Understanding that the SMB market — his former customer base — is stretched thin from an economic standpoint and cyber crime understanding, he feels they are excellent prospects to migrate solutions to the cloud. However, many SMBs do not understand the technologies involved, (cloud and cyber), or the potential financial benefits of outsourcing an internal IT function, while making their business more secure.

Bob wants to provide that education and a road map to migrate SMB clients into the cloud. It is a phased approach from traditional physical security integration into a consulting and migration model. Not that everything will be offloaded into a cloud architecture, but by moving some applications out of a business with no IT expertise — or personnel — you can actually save money and delegate the cybersecurity responsibility to a provider better equipped to manage it. This makes the SMB a stronger link in the supply chain, something larger vendors will be demanding in the future as more SMB partners are suffering security breaches. The bad guys are not stupid; they take the path of least resistance to provide an entry point into a larger partner’s network and databases from the SMB.

The migration of the SMB to the cloud is exploding. More physical security integrators should consider this model as a hybrid approach to extending their own services. This is where the IT and security market is heading. Look at Apple Computer and think about the dislocation iPads and iPhones are causing traditional IT departments deploying desktops, servers and laptops. The megatrend is cloud-based mobile devices. By the way: it’s no accident that Apple is battling Exxon as the most valuable company in the world. Everything from video (surveillance and movies), access control, biometrics, accounting and entertainment will go cloud. The question for the integrator is, “Will these trends effect my business model?” The answer is, “How could they not?”

The successful integrator sees opportunity in major technical dislocations and responds faster than its competition. What happened in Vegas is not staying in Vegas. This mystery integrator sees an opportunity to leverage the cloud model with cybersecurity. Do you?