From Risk to Reward
How service assurance present new opportunities for integrators
- By Bud Broomhead
- Dec 01, 2018
In the professional security market, the model for revenue is
changing. Systems integrators are looking for revenue beyond
basic sales and maintenance—especially customer-oriented addons
to generate recurring monthly revenues (RMR). Integrators
need to find new ways to innovate to differentiate themselves
from their competition and improve relationships with their customers
both before and after installation. Increasingly, organizations
are realizing their physical security IoT systems have become attack
surfaces, they are subject to increased audit and compliance requirements,
and they must be managed at scale. These new requirements
are best addressed through providing automated verification and
service assurance of physical security systems delivered as an RMR
offering by an integrator.
The switch to IP-based security systems has happened and has
brought many benefits to security system operators. Networked security
systems added capabilities, intelligence, and performance, make
it simple to integrate tasks, streamline workflows, and easily audit
security procedures in addition to mitigating risk, improving overall
data and managing liability. These benefits have enabled security
systems to better secure facilities and protect employees and businesses.
However, there are risks presented by the growing prevalence
of threats aimed at security IoT systems.
As with IoT systems in general, networked security systems are
comprised of multiple IP-based devices coordinated together to enable
an application (e.g. the surveillance application is to deliver a video
stream from the camera device into storage for the required retention
period). Data is exchanged between multiple devices, and there are a
growing number of security devices and functions being connected together.
In today’s world, it is not surprising to see a security system
comprised of more than access control and surveillance; the IoT nature
of security systems brings IP-connected intercom systems, alarm
systems, uninterruptable power supplies, visitor management kiosks,
and others into the scope of a network connected security system.
A consequence of more devices, more connections between them,
and their mission-critical nature is that organizations can’t leave to
chance that everything is always working as it should. That’s where
automated verification and service assurance for physical security
systems comes into play. By constantly analyzing and verifying the
entire video stream path, automation can make sure that the integrator
knows about issues immediately and can also assist in automatically
diagnosing and defining a fix-it plan for problems.
Relying on self-test health checks at the device level (such as the
VMS testing or camera device checking itself when powered on) is
insufficient. Such tests miss critical system-level issues that prevent a
video stream from recording properly. That is why, based on industry
studies when such failures occur they are not found out immediately—
it can take days, weeks, or longer to detect. An independent
third-party survey in 2016 found that it typically takes five to seven
days to detect a failure to record. Unless an automated service assurance
solution is being used, there literally is nothing detecting and
alerting on that failure.
This is a major gap in the market, and integrators can solve it with
an automated service assurance solution while generating significant
RMR. The value to the customer is clear—if video is missing, it can
have a catastrophic impact on an organization or business. A business’
ability to remain compliant with internal policy, various government
or industry requirements, or regulations may be impeded.
Many industries are under significant regulation regarding the deployment
of security systems and retention of video. It’s essential
for these systems to pass regular audits so that organizations do not
incur fines or other impediments from their governing body. As well,
missing video could cause a liability issue, or prevent an organization
from defending itself from false claims. For these reasons and others,
automated service assurance is now critical to security systems.
Mitigating downtime on a security system is vital. For security to
protect a business and its employees, it can’t miss a thing and must be
operational always. However, getting ahead of problems—proactive
service—can be one of the greatest challenges for end users, especially
at scale. Providing services that can reliably keep a system operating,
lower downtime or alert security operators to possible failures on
the system can deliver critical new ROI to end-users, as well as being
an RMR generator for systems integrators.
An automated verification and service assurance solution on a
monthly subscription service can do more than just generate valuable
RMR for integrators—it can deepen their customer relationship by being
more “digitally connected” to their customers. Solutions that look
at the physical security system as a whole (instead of just at the device
level) are critically important for identifying when the system is failing
to achieve the business goals of the customer, namely the display, recording,
and retention of video. The integrator will have a much deeper
understanding of the nature of problems in the security system.
An automated solution is also a connection point for the IT department,
which has increased security responsibilities for most businesses
as security systems go digital and are viewed as IoT systems. A
digital, automated system is essential to this new set of users.
Additionally, an automated verification solution is a boon for any
physical security system operator facing compliance audits. For internal
and external audits, an automated, fully documented solution
makes compiling reports simple and accurate. Integrators can run
automated solutions remotely, providing them with the resources to
instantly detect and diagnose problems, aiding their customers with solutions
and even dispatching maintenance from anywhere at any time.
There is a major need to be filled as to providing confidence to end
users of security systems in knowing their systems are always working
properly and scientific evidence of that. Integrators
who fill this niche can expect a product
that provides them with increased RMR as well as
serving an important function for their customers
with a service that increases overall security while
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of Security Today.