Crowell on Convergence, PSIM, Cloud Security, Identity Management

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Former Silicon Valley CEO and Deputy Director of the National Security Agency William P. Crowell Joins Proximex Advisory Board

If anyone should have a comprehensive perspective on convergence and all its components, it's William P. "Bill" Crowell. Crowell, pictured, is best known for his past work as deputy director
of the NSA. Yet his thirty years' of security industry experience spans his leadership of companies like Cylink Corporation, a provider of e-business solutions, and Broadware Technologies, a video software company acquired by Cisco Systems in 2007.

Crowell also co-authored the book Physical and Logical Security Convergence, a detailed look at practical implementations of converged solutions. Today, as an independent security consultant, he specializes in IT, security and intelligence systems.

Crowell also sits on the boards of several influential security-oriented companies that range from security information and event management (ArcSight Inc.) to military and intelligence solution suppliers (DRS Technologies Inc.) to wireless network security (Air Patrol), to name just a few.

Further, Proximex, a physical security information management system vendor, announced today that Crowell has joined its advisory board.

Security Squared's Sharon J. Watson spoke with Crowell recently via telephone, discussing the state of convergence today and the key technologies influencing it, from the potential of PSIM to the impact of cloud computing to the need for converged identity management.

What follows is a transcript of their conversation, edited for clarity and length.

***
Sharon J. Watson: A couple months ago, when I talked to Colby DeRodeff [a co-author with Crowell and others of the book Physical and Logical Security Convergence,] at ArcSight [a security information and event management system vendor] and a range of PSIM vendors, I asked how the average enterprise is bringing together its physical and logical security monitoring, how are they getting a comprehensive security picture. Over and over again I was told they really aren't, those functions are still very separate. Given that it seems like such a logical thing to do on so many levels, why does it seem that implementing convergence is lagging?

William P. "Bill" Crowell: Let me preface my answer by noting I am on the board of ArcSight, and ArcSight is an SIEM. I mean this answer as a very, very thoughtful answer: I put together my portfolio of companies I am interested in based upon my belief of who will ultimately be convergent. I see it happening in two stages. The first stage was logical convergence because of the enormous number of network devices that needed to be monitored in order to have some semblance of security on the network. That ended up being the SIEM world, and ArcSight is certainly the leader in that world. What they do is correlation of logs of all of these devices, like firewalls.

On the physical side, there was no structure to everything. First of all, there were so many players, say, in door locks or video management, video analysis, all these different elements. Quite frankly, none of them were producing logs in such a way that you could actually make sense of them in the same way you could on the logical side. Companies like Proximex are filling what I would call a second stage need to be able to bring order to the physical world and produce meaningful logs, logs that actually talk about things that are happening that are security events as opposed to just logging all the entries and exits, which wouldn't be very useful in the long run.

We're seeing these two things happening simultaneously, with physical security correlation and event management lagging the logical side, and we will be seeing companies like ArcSight using that physical security information to provide a coherent picture across the entire enterprise. It really hasn't happened up till now because the elements weren't ready.

I give a lot of speeches on security. One of my lines in my speeches is that the security industry is one thousand points of light--with no illumination. I think that we are finally beginning to see some alignment of these points of light so that we can get them all pointed in the same direction, make them work together, integrate them into a solution so people can actually use them to manage security not just as a way of preventing injury and theft and all of those kinds of things but actually as a way of extending the enterprise capabilities as well, as we mentioned in the book.

New Relationships Among IT, HR, Security Roles

SJW:
How ready are most enterprises, from a management perspective, to embrace security that way, seeing it as a business tool, as a source of business intelligence, as a source of information to help them streamline processes, as more than just preventing the unauthorized access. Is it being seen as strategic by more than a handful of early adopters?

WPC: That's also an interesting thing to study. It's fairly understandable that on the physical security side, the bringing together of all of these elements into security as well as business oriented processes has been lagging because the physical security departments over the last 40 or 50 years have been dominated by ex-military police and ex-law enforcement officers. That is not to take anything away from them. It is just that is not a technology field.
 
What we are seeing is there are now partnerships being arranged between physical security departments and the IT departments because of the huge impact of video management and all of the access control mechanisms, the impact of that on the IT systems and, vice versa, the IT system availability impact on the security systems. I think what we'll see next--and I've already seen it a number of organizations--is that the physical security organizations will begin hiring CTOs and technical people to guide and develop and integrate solutions across the physical side. When that happens, they in the IT department or they in the security department, depending on how it's organized, will begin to cooperate with each other and I think eventually merge.

One of the things I am seeing as well: the dominance of IT over security is beginning to switch again. I've seen it in a couple of federal organizations, where in fact information assurance is no longer under the IT department. I've seen it in some enterprises, in which physical security and HR have already merged, and they are beginning to look at taking information assurance and building it into a coherent organization separate from the CIO. That's the opportunity for all of these elements to begin aligning with the business needs of the enterprise as well.

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Former Silicon Valley CEO and Deputy Director of the National Security Agency William P. Crowell Joins Proximex Advisory Board

If anyone should have a comprehensive perspective on convergence and all its components, it's William P. "Bill" Crowell. Crowell, pictured, is best known for his past work as deputy director
of the NSA. Yet his thirty years' of security industry experience spans his leadership of companies like Cylink Corporation, a provider of e-business solutions, and Broadware Technologies, a video software company acquired by Cisco Systems in 2007.

Crowell also co-authored the book Physical and Logical Security Convergence, a detailed look at practical implementations of converged solutions. Today, as an independent security consultant, he specializes in IT, security and intelligence systems.

Crowell also sits on the boards of several influential security-oriented companies that range from security information and event management (ArcSight Inc.) to military and intelligence solution suppliers (DRS Technologies Inc.) to wireless network security (Air Patrol), to name just a few.

Further, Proximex, a physical security information management system vendor, announced today that Crowell has joined its advisory board.

Security Squared's Sharon J. Watson spoke with Crowell recently via telephone, discussing the state of convergence today and the key technologies influencing it, from the potential of PSIM to the impact of cloud computing to the need for converged identity management.

What follows is a transcript of their conversation, edited for clarity and length.

***
Sharon J. Watson: A couple months ago, when I talked to Colby DeRodeff [a co-author with Crowell and others of the book Physical and Logical Security Convergence,] at ArcSight [a security information and event management system vendor] and a range of PSIM vendors, I asked how the average enterprise is bringing together its physical and logical security monitoring, how are they getting a comprehensive security picture. Over and over again I was told they really aren't, those functions are still very separate. Given that it seems like such a logical thing to do on so many levels, why does it seem that implementing convergence is lagging?

William P. "Bill" Crowell: Let me preface my answer by noting I am on the board of ArcSight, and ArcSight is an SIEM. I mean this answer as a very, very thoughtful answer: I put together my portfolio of companies I am interested in based upon my belief of who will ultimately be convergent. I see it happening in two stages. The first stage was logical convergence because of the enormous number of network devices that needed to be monitored in order to have some semblance of security on the network. That ended up being the SIEM world, and ArcSight is certainly the leader in that world. What they do is correlation of logs of all of these devices, like firewalls.

On the physical side, there was no structure to everything. First of all, there were so many players, say, in door locks or video management, video analysis, all these different elements. Quite frankly, none of them were producing logs in such a way that you could actually make sense of them in the same way you could on the logical side. Companies like Proximex are filling what I would call a second stage need to be able to bring order to the physical world and produce meaningful logs, logs that actually talk about things that are happening that are security events as opposed to just logging all the entries and exits, which wouldn't be very useful in the long run.

We're seeing these two things happening simultaneously, with physical security correlation and event management lagging the logical side, and we will be seeing companies like ArcSight using that physical security information to provide a coherent picture across the entire enterprise. It really hasn't happened up till now because the elements weren't ready.

I give a lot of speeches on security. One of my lines in my speeches is that the security industry is one thousand points of light--with no illumination. I think that we are finally beginning to see some alignment of these points of light so that we can get them all pointed in the same direction, make them work together, integrate them into a solution so people can actually use them to manage security not just as a way of preventing injury and theft and all of those kinds of things but actually as a way of extending the enterprise capabilities as well, as we mentioned in the book.

New Relationships Among IT, HR, Security Roles

SJW:
How ready are most enterprises, from a management perspective, to embrace security that way, seeing it as a business tool, as a source of business intelligence, as a source of information to help them streamline processes, as more than just preventing the unauthorized access. Is it being seen as strategic by more than a handful of early adopters?

WPC: That's also an interesting thing to study. It's fairly understandable that on the physical security side, the bringing together of all of these elements into security as well as business oriented processes has been lagging because the physical security departments over the last 40 or 50 years have been dominated by ex-military police and ex-law enforcement officers. That is not to take anything away from them. It is just that is not a technology field.
 
What we are seeing is there are now partnerships being arranged between physical security departments and the IT departments because of the huge impact of video management and all of the access control mechanisms, the impact of that on the IT systems and, vice versa, the IT system availability impact on the security systems. I think what we'll see next--and I've already seen it a number of organizations--is that the physical security organizations will begin hiring CTOs and technical people to guide and develop and integrate solutions across the physical side. When that happens, they in the IT department or they in the security department, depending on how it's organized, will begin to cooperate with each other and I think eventually merge.

One of the things I am seeing as well: the dominance of IT over security is beginning to switch again. I've seen it in a couple of federal organizations, where in fact information assurance is no longer under the IT department. I've seen it in some enterprises, in which physical security and HR have already merged, and they are beginning to look at taking information assurance and building it into a coherent organization separate from the CIO. That's the opportunity for all of these elements to begin aligning with the business needs of the enterprise as well.

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SJW:  I know there have been the federal mandates, the government FIPS 201 standard, the HSPD 12 directive and just in general the need to be more secure and to implement some of the converged technologies and extend these to government partners.  How much have you seen any of these trends beginning to penetrate private enterprise?

WPC: I'm seeing it in the financial industry, where they have realized the enormous value they are missing in being able to correlate physical events with logical events. I've seen it in one of the large pharmaceuticals. I predict that will spread, both because those industries have a lot of movement between them and because of the need. The physical access to areas where new drug research is being done along with logical access to the intellectual property should be viewed together, and I think they are understanding that.

The other element of it is that this stuff has been so darn complicated. Going back to my points of light, it's not only complicated but un-integrated. So you take a look at the new Proximex appliance and for a medium-sized business, you are suddenly able to just plug something in and manage all your cameras, your access systems and so on in a way that people could never do before....

If you are a company and want to have PSIM, you don't want to have to write all these drivers for everything in your inventory. You want to plug it in and have connections to Lenel systems, HID systems and all the other systems instantly. I'll use ArcSight again as an example: What pushed ArcSight over the top as the logical security company is that they either wrote all the connectors to all the major players' boxes and systems and software or their customers did and shared them across the user base. I think that's going to happen in the PSIM world. In fact, I think that Proximex is leading the pack in that they are very focused on making sure they have connectors to all of the major physical security devices.

Video Management vs. Event Management

One other thing: there are a lot of people who have focused on video management. I was the chairman of Broadware Technologies, you probably remember that was a company that Cisco bought. Broadware had a very, very nice product for managing the IP fabric that supported video and for making sure that video streams could get to where they were going and throttle back on frame rates and all those kinds of things automatically. It did not have a command and control system like Proximex offers.

So what's the difference? I was on a blue ribbon commission right after 9-11 at the San Jose International Airport. I remember walking into the command and control center at the airport, and there were either two or three officers sitting at large consoles they had for the video monitors in front of them. They were black and white, there were four images on each one, they were all burned in, the [cameras] had been sitting in the same positions for probably a decade or more. Nobody ever looked at them. Why didn't they look at them? Because most of the time nothing is happening.

So what the Proximex folks offer is an opportunity to have a whole lot of different triggers to cause people to look at the video or look at the video at an access point or look at who is accessing an access point, all of these different things that allow you to actually respond to threats and incidents. We've just never had that before.

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SJW: That brings up something we've been monitoring: A number of video management companies are becoming more integrated with physical access control systems, and there was the recent transaction in the marketplace in which NICE Systems is purchasing Orsus so they will be able to combine situation management with their video management system... those tighter relationships between video management systems and physical access control systems are often referred to being as PSIM-like, offering some very similar functionality. I'm wondering how you react to that nomenclature.

WPC: I call it good marketing.

Look, there are two ways in which the market can go--there are probably more than that, but there are at least two ways. One is for someone to buy all the pieces and integrate them all and sell them as a total integrated piece. Whoever does that will have some success with new customers who have never done anything in this world before. But the truth of the matter is that there are millions, if not tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, invested already in cameras, including analog cameras, which is why people still build encoders and why Broadware was such a handy piece of technology
.
So there are all these pieces that people already have, and the question is, if you are the security manager or you now are the new manager of an integrated security system, do you really want to throw it all away or would you like to adopt a management system that allows you to keep a large portion of it and then gradually, as it becomes time, to replace various elements, whether it's the access system or the video systems, or whatever.

We haven't seen wholesale adoption of IP-based video yet. A place like Fort Meade has hundreds to thousands of analog cameras that work perfectly well and can be integrated just by encoding and putting them over a fiber network, which they had already done 10 years ago. They are already in digital form.  To replace them with all IP cameras would be very expensive. To integrate all that, since they deal with integrators, is a huge cost. Again, it is something they are not ready to do.

So the question is, from a customer perspective, what are they looking for? Are they looking for a set of technical capabilities that can be easily integrated or are they looking for a turnkey solution where they tear out everything they already have and just install new. It kind of depends on cost and complexity and whether it meets their needs.

I read your story about the Long Beach implementation, and I do know they went through an incredibly complex evaluation of their requirements and needs, of the things they already had, the things they needed to add, and came up with an approach that brought Proximex into the mix because it could address so many of the things they already had and allow them to be up and running faster. Three days to train people sounds very good on these kinds of systems.

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The Potential Reach of PSIM Solutions

SJW: What I'm hearing, and I'm still trying to sort it out, is this issue that PSIM solutions and that kind of needs analysis is particularly appropriate in that kind of situation, like a port or some [entity] for whom security means human lives are at stake. There's a sense that we've picked up that maybe PSIM is too complex for a typical enterprise setting that doesn't have specialized systems or sensors or incredibly unusual or custom applications.

WPC: We have to define what we mean by enterprise. What I mean by enterprise is Fortune 500 to 1000 or 2000. Those organizations are characterized by highly distributed locations, large numbers of entry points, huge volumes of accesses of vehicles as well as people, and very, very valuable intellectual property. For them, ultimately PSIM and then finally, convergence of the two fields, logical and physical, will be a no-brainer as they can afford it and justify the return on investment.

It's when you get to enterprises we would call medium level-enterprises, single locations, that I think you see the value of Proximex having come out with their C-100 [PSIM appliance]. I think both markets can be addressed with the way Proximex has done it. I mean, they haven't been in the market long enough to prove that, they just announced it [three] months ago but it looks to me like it's going to be something that meets the needs of the next tier, say the Fortune 5,000 or 10,000.

The interesting thing for me is that the two together are very powerful. If I were Wal-Mart, I would put the C-100 at every store, and then I would use the enterprise software at corporate to manage the response to any events that occur. And they have a lot of events--they have theft, events in parking lots and access areas and so on that corporate needs to be aware of. Today they are not aware of it unless they get reports on it. With the combination of the C-100 and [Proximex's enterprise-class Surveillant], they have the ability to do that.

Do they know that yet?... It's an emerging market. It's a market characterized by somewhat slow cycles of sales. There's a lot to look at and a lot to think about before you start [implementing]. I have a feeling that among large enterprises, no one buys complicated software, no matter what its reputation, without trying it. So the take-up cycle has to be long because you have to run pilots and let people actually see what it would do within their existing system before they are willing to buy an enterprise license. I think with the appliance that's a little different, in that seeing it can be a very short cycle so it may be that we will see, a bad example, but the Wal-Marts of the world buy a $30,000 C-100 and try it at one of their locations and then make a decision to deploy it.

We've seen that in several of the companies I've been involved with. As soon as we could introduce an appliance that could do 40 or 50 percent of what the enterprise product could do, the take-up cycle shortened considerably but it always led to very large enterprise sales.

SJW: Let me be very clear, Bill. Are you talking about the C-100 specifically or appliances in general there?

WPC: Appliances in general that will interoperate and be mothered by very large enterprise software.

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On Securing the Cloud

SJW: Let me toss this out there: There's a lot of talk about how much cloud computing is going to change the face of IT. A lot of companies, including big ones, are using a lot of sophisticated applications that are based out in the cloud. What do you think might be the potential impact of cloud computing on convergence in general and maybe on some of these specific applications-- video management, access control and things like PSIM and SIEM?
 
WPC: A lot. A year ago the amount of time I spent on cloud computing was probably five percent. Today it is probably 50 percent. The reason is that it touches everything. The take-up cycle for cloud computing is very, very rapid compared to the consideration of its security impacts. Most people see such enormous operational and economic advantages to cloud computing that they are moving a lot faster in using it than they are in securing it. That has huge implications for everyone involved.

First of all, let's imagine that we put all of the physical security elements into the cloud. It's a logical thing to do because there's a lot of excess capacity out there. So just from an efficiency standpoint, you could probably run a huge physical security complex in a commercial cloud for very, very little money compared to building a huge data center somewhere. The reason why is that you're using the overhead of the huge data center somebody else has already built.

Well, that's very interesting. The question is what happens if the security system isn't available? So there's the availability piece. What happens if the security system, particularly all your video systems, can be monitored or cut off or even changed? I worry more about changing systems than I do denial of service actually. So we have huge implications for video management, for access control, for PSIM in the use of the cloud.

Those dangers extend into the IT systems as well--beyond the IP system supporting physical--to the applications and the storage systems, which usually are storage attached to the cloud. In my mind, the exposure is enormous. I have a number of business interests in this area, a couple of them specifically address security in the cloud, and some of their federal customers, because they're already using clouds--though they are wholly owned clouds--they are still understanding that within the cloud environment, people may have access to things they are not authorized to have access to unless you take special precautions, particularly with regard to the mass storage systems in the cloud. So there are lots of companies addressing the security of cloud storage, attached storage, SANS and NAS.

In the long run, I can't underestimate the importance of trying to speed up the adoption of good security practices in gaining the economic advantages that the cloud offers.

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On Converging Physical and Logical Identity Management

SJW
: It seems to me managing identities has got to be important to that, to really know that the people you are providing access rights to are who you think they are, especially if you're working in a virtualized environment where you have people accessing cloud applications.  Yet that seems to be another area in which there is a big disconnect between the physical identities and the logical identities.

WPC: It's even worse than that. I consider identity management to be the single most important technology and the least employed technology and the least integrated between physical and logical. I can think of very large, very sensitive government agencies that have no credentials for physical access other than a badge and logical access is the password. These are agencies that are handling some of the most sensitive information in the government.
 
There's a huge need to speed up the deployment of identity systems. Identity systems really are the fundamental technology where physical and logical logically come together. If no one's done that, then they are a long way away from integrating the two. That's step one in probably 10 steps. That's one of the reasons, in a way, HSPD-12 was ahead of its time--and it's still ahead of its time.

SJW: Do you have some insights into why that disconnect continues between the physical and logical identities? I was just looking at the agenda of what I think is a fairly influential identity summit, and there was not a single item on the agenda that looked at physical identities or merging physical and logical identity management
.
WPC: We have several problems. I'll list at least a couple. The first one is organizational. Large enterprises have not yet for the most part merged their HR and security departments and built a dotted line to their IT department with regards to identity management. So the question always comes up: who is driving the need? The need is usually being driven by a department that has some budget and they meet their need, they don't meet the enterprise need. Some companies are fortunate enough to have very, very smart CIOs or very, very smart and technically savvy physical security people, and they get ahead of this game. But largely, organizationally, we are still not integrating to the full set of needs.

The second problem is if you go online and you type in identity management or authentication or any of the keywords, you were going for the most part to see logical security single sign-on types of companies. That's because they have this peculiar problem of enrolling and credentialing people in a virtual environment. The physical people have always had a different problem, which is badging and access control systems for door locks and other kinds of access control. So those were championed by the HIDs and Lenels and so on, who didn't have a foothold at all in the logical security world because they were mostly proximity [cards and devices] that didn't have much to do with computers other than the back office.

Getting those two together has been very, very difficult....ArcSight actually has an identity package for its SIEM that allows you to bridge those two. It's not employed that way very much, but it does allow for that. So that thinking about how to bridge [physical and logical identities] has mostly come from people outside the access control and identity management and authentication fields.

In fact, I can remember a time not that long ago when identity management was really authentication, and the HR and the directory piece and all of that was not being addressed. I was the CEO of a company called Cylink and in 1999 we implemented in the company a converged smartcard that controlled physical access as well as logical access and we couldn't sell it to anybody. I mean we could not sell it. I remember going personally to Smith Barney, who under Graham-Leach-Bliley was supposed to be able to tell whether someone was physically present when a logical access occurred, and they said, well, it's interesting technology, but we'll do this some other way.

Well, now that's not true. People are really interested in being able to do that. I've seen technology that's just really, really great and may be someday extremely affordable, like one that constantly monitors the iris of the person who's sitting at a computer. If they get up and leave, anyone else who comes there can't access it, it's logged off. The guy comes back, sits down at his desk, and he has immediate access to everything just as he left it.

That's when we start getting to the point where the business needs of the company are being met by adding security layers. All these things that require a smartcard and that means a reader on every desk and what if you forget your smartcard and then you've got to have help desk support, all that kind of stuff, all that does is add burdens to the business process.

So the security industry has got to step up to making this, I don't want to use the word commodity, but to making it a no-brainer fiscal decision.

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On Openness, Industry Mergers and Partnerships

SJW:
One of the reasons I'm interested in identity management is the technology that enables enterprises to assign roles to identities and then systems like ArcSight's, or--I'll ask you--possibly PSIMs could monitor for role violations and be that much more effective.

WPC: I don't think PSIMs could. It's not in their DNA. It would take them two or three years to write all that code, so as I say to the CEO of ArcSight, I don't think you are in danger of any of these guys coming into your territory for several years. I think what we will ultimately see is partnerships or mergers and integrations.
 
SJW: That was one of my questions. When do you think we might see a major IT company purchase a promising physical security specialist in some area and try to present more of an integrated but still open package to the market?

WPC: The other pet peeve I have about the industry is openness is not well embraced. I think the winners ultimately will be those who provide open architectures. They may have proprietary solutions but with open connections. If they don't do that, the customers recognize that pretty quickly, and they don't want to be in that trap. I can say that for sure about the government because I used to be the acquisitions purchasing authority for my agency, and if it looked like we were going to be in for 10 years just by making that decision, then maybe we'd better look at that decision a little more closely just one more time.
 
There are requirements to re-compete in the government. Even though there may not be policies like that in the enterprise, they long ago recognized that the dangers of not being able to re-compete a few years down the road are pretty large in terms of financial impact
.
SJW: Any particular [IT] companies you think we should be keeping our eye on in terms of making a move into security?

WPC: Yeah, it's clear to me that Cisco has its eye on that field. Cisco has its eye on a lot of fields. I think Honeywell has such a large footprint in the physical world that they may want to be one of the consolidators for at least the physical world. We're already seeing United Technologies moving in that direction.

I think the jury's out on some of the others who are big IT companies mostly because they are still having trouble integrating some of the things they have already acquired. I'm thinking of EMC, for example, who acquired RSA.

On Convergence Growth Triggers

SJW
: That was largely my list of questions. [Convergence] is obviously a deep and complex topic. You had talked about how the thousand points of light are beginning to come together to provide some illumination. Is there some specific trigger or event or something that will make this coalesce and make convergence something very hot that people are leaping on, or is it going to just be an iterative process?
 
WPC: I have a Google Alert that tells me about all the articles on convergence and security. A year ago I got about a hit a week. Six months ago, I got a hit or two or three every few days. Now I get between three and six a day....

It's going to happen. Security has for a long time not been in a CEO's corporate interests unless something bad happened. And then there were two actions that took care of that. You fired the security chief, and you closed the door after the animals have left the barn. The days of that being acceptable are just gone. As these fields learn more and more about each other, and as the reality of security riding on the IT network becomes more and more real, and as the products mature to actually deliver against this need, we'll see it happen.

By the way, it has to be affordable. That's another issue, but even saying that [convergence] has to be affordable has got to be in context, too....People have gotten really, really serious about fraud, about insider threats and about outsider breaches and the cost of breaches of personally identifiable information--we are talking about $200 billion to a trillion dollars this year in lost revenue or intellectual property.

So to that extent, people aren't buying cheap anymore, and ArcSight is the best example of that I can give you. It is not a cheap product, but it is the best product out there on the market. I hope to hell Proximex becomes the same thing to the physical security market because I think they have done the upfront work to open up their architecture, to think about how the customer has to use this stuff instead of just being what I call feeds-oriented. When you read about other products, you read about the specs; when you read about Proximex's products, you read about the effects. That's the difference.

###

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