Managed service providers eyeing lucrative additions can look at security as long as threats continue to evolve and attacks increase. Malware detection, access control, and 24/7 monitoring are valuable services to organizations that understand the importance of end-to-end security, yet don’t have the infrastructure to support it. The idea of managed security is nothing new, but has traditionally been focused more on cyber threats. Now both customers and MSPs are starting to realize the value of managing security on the physical side of the fence.
Some interesting new data predicts that the global physical security industry will reach $125 billion by 2019. The report cites an increase in terrorism acts and growing concerns over criminal activity and safety as growth drivers for the market. While this space is currently dominated by familiar heavyweights such as Axis Communications, IBM, and McAfee, the diversity of physical security itself means there is ample opportunity for IT-savvy managed service providers to get in on the action.
Video Surveillance and Beyond
The concept of video surveillance is gaining interest from MSPs looking to beef up their portfolios and profits. IP network technology has made it more affordable and easily accessible than ever. On top of that, this type of security is just plain old effective. In the ideal scenario, it provides adequate protection for a company’s facility, while improving response capabilities and helping reduce the losses incurred from theft. Like most things video, you can say this new age surveillance has a certain sexiness to it. However, it is just one piece in a rather large physical security picture for MSPs to set their sights on.
Access Control with Smart Cards
My little lady freaks out every time she forgets her work badge. Forgetting it means she’s going to have a tough time getting inside the building. Smart card technology is the innovation behind the plastic ID cards and badges that facilitate access control in numerous workplace environments. This type of system provides security and helps improve business efficiency by streamlining access in and throughout the facility. As I alluded to, many companies have it setup to where it’s next to impossible to enter the building without a functional ID card or badge.
Smart card solutions are relatively easy to find, but MSPs can stand out from the crowd by catering to the specialized needs of their market. A software development firm may need to sync their cards with existing IT systems and attendance data. A local courier company may need the ability to grant immediate access to customers, suppliers, and other visitors. Knowing your audience and how to capitalize on the various functions of smart card technology can help MSPs gain firm traction in this segment of physical security.
Authentication with Biometrics
The IT industry has been eying biometrics for a while. Biometric technology automates authentication by using physical or behavioral traits to verify identity. A company could incorporate a system that uses an employee’s fingerprints, face, or iris to confirm they are who they say they are before granting access to a physical location or system. The biometrics advantage lies in the fact that it can’t be lost or stolen like a key, forgotten like a password, or duplicated like an ID badge. Once limited to government applications, this promising technology is now readily available to capable service providers.
MSPs looking for an easy path to biometrics adoption may find it in a voice-oriented implementation. By verifying ID using natural voice patterns, voice biometrics eliminate the need for passwords, PIN numbers, and even security guards in some access control scenarios. There are challenges in incorporating any new technology, but MSPs may find this one easier to adapt to due to the fact that it’s available in the form of software that can be seamlessly plugged into the network. According to a recent report, the voice biometrics segment could reach $2.5 billion by 2015.
Opportunities Now, Challenges Ahead
Maintaining an end-to-end security infrastructure is no cake walk. Simply training personnel how to manage new technologies such as video surveillance, smart card, and biometrics systems can be both cumbersome and cost prohibitive, particularly for small businesses strapped in the resource department. Unfortunately, compromising security on any level is a huge gamble not worth all the risks that follow. IT service providers can step up as the champions of their respective niches by shouldering the grueling burden of managing these complex infrastructures.
When it comes to capitalizing on the opportunities that exist in managed physical security, MSPs are as poised as any to take advantage. How can they seize the moment? In addition to understanding the needs of their customer base, providers in the IT space must fully comprehend the technologies they’re planning to incorporate. The moment is ripe, but with new opportunities come new risks and challenges that must be tackled head on.
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