I’ve spent much of my life in and around security technology. My family at one time owned the largest electronic security company on the West coast, I worked as both a security guard and an Orange County Sheriff, as an operations manager I managed security, and at IBM, for a time, I owned security for my group and did security audits as an Internal Auditor. As an analyst, I’ve covered security for much of my independent career and, given the times, I’ve been a bit surprised that there isn’t more of a focus on doing security right.
When I saw an announcement this week on Dell doing an IoT solution for surveillance, I requested an update and discovered this was one of the most successful and fastest growing groups in Dell. I got to this conclusion when I found this unit was outgrowing the security industry, which is currently growing at between 15 percent and 25 percent.
Let’s talk about why Dell Technologies is so successful with its security effort. It comes down to the EMC storage component and Dell’s ability to be a general contractor and provide one throat to choke.
What’s Wrong with Security
During the conversation, I saw an almost identical problem to one I saw when I worked for IBM storage a few decades back. Then, the issue was with backup products. Everyone seemed overly focused on the backup of the data, not the recovery of it. The end result was that most of the products sucked at recovery, the thing you typically were actually buying the product for.
With security, most of the solutions are focused on capturing video, not keeping it safe or analyzing it. This means that when there is a physical breach or problem, the security team can’t easily determine who the culprit is or where they are in real time, unless they are physically watching the monitors.
Other issues are common, like incompatibilities between the alerting system and the system used to lock down the site, mixed security systems that don’t allow you to follow someone across security zones, and an inability to easily analyze all the video sources so you can stop the attacker before they do damage or harm.
Finally, security often reports to Ops not IT, and often doesn’t get the help or professional resources it needs to create a viable working solution that not only captures the image of a suspect but integrates all the other data sources so that their illicit activities can be stopped or at least reported with enough fidelity for in-depth analysis and to support a conviction.
Dell’s IoT Solution for Surveillance
What makes Dell’s solution unique is that it focuses not only on the storage and analysis of the data but on incorporating third-party technology to complete the solution. Much like Dell’s IoT effort in general, Dell’s security offering is more of an infrastructure play, where Dell performs as the general contractor and pulls together whatever the customer needs for a viable solution. Given the comprehensive nature of the offering, it is also being used for other things like customer in-store analysis (what point of sale tools are working), line analysis (is the store losing customers due to overly long lines), and real-time remediation of problems (getting help to customers who need it in a timely manner).
One interesting piece of analysis that Dell did for a customer using this solution was to analyze customer behavior to determine why sales dropped after the firm removed a group of products that weren’t selling well.
They even integrate with firms like Live Earth for highly granular security solutions and Nightingale, a firm that specializes in security drones (they have a cool video) for comprehensive coverage. At the back end are Dell/EMC’s storage solutions and given the increased focus on analysis, they have recently pivoted to provide flash-based solutions to this segment to assist with real-time analysis. This is because, increasingly, seconds matter when there is a physical breach, particularly if the criminal is armed.
Another interesting thing about Dell security is that Dell itself is aggressively deploying these solutions with sizes like Raleigh, and Limerick, Ireland, standing out as security showcases. Often vendors don’t deploy what they sell and with security, in particular, that would be problematic. But Dell does aggressively roll out security solutions inside Dell, helping to assure they work as advertised.
One of the big areas of security advancement is with artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics. It is working aggressively with NVIDIA on hardware solutions that will be able to use AI to better identify and mitigate threats. One interesting new technology, in this regard, is NVIDIA’s Turing platform, which promises to take low-quality videos and upscale them to high-resolution wonders.
Wrapping Up: Security Needs to Be Comprehensive and Integrated
With a physical breach, and particularly with an armed attacker, the need to be able to identify and mitigate or respond to a threat in a timely manner has never been as great as it is today. Much like the storage market realized that it isn’t about the speed of a backup but the effectiveness and speed of the recovery that is important, enterprise security buyers are realizing it isn’t about video capture but analysis, prevention and remediation that are important.
You can make sites far safer and more secure than they are today but only by creating multi-vendor solutions that can not only incorporate a broad class of third-party products but analyze their results and report in real time any critical exposures.
Even Dell Technologies isn’t big enough to do this alone but, with a high level of integration, the ability to build out a solution customized for the site, and an impressive set of analytics tools, it is being favored over more traditional security vendors, which is why it is growing faster than the market.
It doesn’t hurt that the company also uses its own solutions.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+