Although the benefits are many, integrating a building system onto an IT network can be a daunting task.
Integrating video, access control, and other building-automation systems (BASs) with IT networks offers benefits like improved control and operational efficiencies, as well as enhanced service support. Convergence, however, hinges on a unified strategy between security, facility management, and IT.
Establish relationships and a common vision.
Integrating separate groups means merging goals and responsibilities to form strong working relationships.
The groups can leverage each other's technologies and expertise in non-traditional ways to meet their specific needs. For example, physical security might use IT-specific technologies to synchronize identity-management data and ensure efficiency and data consistency. This allows the department to supplement capabilities and better manage resources across the network.
Additionally, IT, facilities, and security can designate a facilitator who can understand all sides and ensure collaboration.
Secure a network to protect systems.
Issues concerning network exposures and system vulnerabilities, such as viruses, must be properly addressed. IT and facility personnel must identify system exposures - physical and logical - and each group must understand its role and responsibility in maintaining network security. Organizations can then develop a plan to ensure stability and security of a network and all associated processes (see “Establishing a Secure Network", right).
Apply IT standards to BAS.
Facility and security groups must learn standard IT operating procedures, including system maintenance, notification, and hardware standards. Outlining clear processes for making network changes, for example, can prevent unexpected downtime and interruptions.
Organizations should also be aware of IT hardware standards, which can affect budgets and processes. Knowing an IT organization's preferred vendor bodes well for system maintenance, performance, and uptime on the facilities side. Systems delivered on a standard platform allow organizations to have spare parts on hand and to train maintenance staff.
Establish back-up strategies.
Establishing back-up strategies can ensure that critical data isn't lost. First, decide how much data loss and downtime your organization can afford. Once the optimal level of back-up is determined, apply back-up methods for all systems, such as transferring database content to disks or keeping transaction logs. Organizations can also establish system redundancy by installing an additional server for each critical system role.
Regular testing and evaluation are also critical. Set a reminder each month for testing; select a server at random. Restore the data from that server and evaluate the results. This testing can mean the difference between smooth convergence and losing critical data.
Plan ahead to achieve results.
The thin line between success and failure is characterized by how well an organization can establish common ground and ensure that all departmental needs and goals are met. By anticipating requirements and adhering to common standards, facility, security, and IT personnel can work together to achieve higher system performance for optimal business results.
Mark Cherry is a product marketing manager for Honeywell Building Solutions, a business unit of Morristown, NJ-based Honeywell Intl. (www.honeywell.com). He is located in Minneapolis and can be reached at (email@example.com).