Are Integrator IT Skills Overblown?

A topic on the need for top IT skills was raised in a recent article by Milestone’s Mike Sherwood on ‘The 3 Most Important Things for VMS Integrators to Succeed‘, and this subject has now also popped up on from Ray Bernard, security industry pundit. Ray asks ‘Are Integrator IT Skills Overblown?’ and proposes that “Technology consumerization and cloud capabilities may be changing the decades-old perception that security systems integrators must be IT tech-savvy”.

Ray concurs with Mike on the value of investing in good IT skills when he writes: “The more that information technology advances and becomes incorporated into physical security systems, the more important it is that integrators (and manufacturers) gain a good understanding of the information technology elements involved. For many integrators, this has been a seemingly impossible task, because of the accelerating rate of IT advancement, and the complexities involved in some information technologies.”

However, one very important trend—thanks in large part to cloud computing—now offers an antidote to IT complexity: the consumerization of IT. The full significance of this trend has not yet been realized by security industry manufacturers or systems integrators. – Ray Bernard

Ray continues: Information technology continues to evolve and become more capable, while also becoming less trouble to own, maintain and use. This IT trend – ease of ownership and use – is underappreciated in the security industry, but has begun to catch on, partly because the scale and capabilities of consumer IT products have eliminated the need for security-industry-built devices.

Today, a good 50-inch 4K TV can be purchased for less than $500; thus nine 50-inch 4K monitors can make an impressive high-resolution 10 x 6-foot video wall for less than $6,000. Some VMS systems, like Milestone’s XProtect Expert and Corporate, fully support video wall capabilities and simplified management of video wall content… (but) 15 years ago, a security video wall of that size and resolution would have required special security-industry-made video display equipment, costing upwards of $250,000 including the software and servers.

Today’s technology provides a 90 percent or better cost reduction for greatly-improved display. Also of high importance is the fact that installing and commissioning such a video wall today requires only the consumer technology skills of an integrator’s technical personnel.

As the project complexity increases with more sophisticated storage or networking requirements – and as additional products are added to the mix that require integration – the skill set needed for both successful implementation and on-going end user support is much higher. – Mike Sherwood, Director of Technical Services, Milestone Systems.

For simpler projects, Mike does agree with Ray’s statement: “Due to technology advancement trends, including cloud computing, it is no longer true that all security systems integrators must become experts in all IT facets of computer, software, hardware and network deployment. There are some levels of enterprise security system deployment that continue to require advanced IT skills; however, more security system deployments do not require such a high level of IT expertise.”

Ray concludes: “Based on the continued acceleration of information technology trends, we should expect to see electronic physical security systems become more capable, less trouble to own and maintain, as well as less trouble for integrators to install and commission… Cloud-based convergence benefits do not eliminate the need for integrators to understand information technology, but they do change what aspects of IT that integrators need to focus on.”

Read the full article with more illustrations of these changes, benefits and demands on

Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights, available on Amazon. Mr. Bernard is a Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (SEC) and an active member of the ASIS International member councils for Physical Security and IT Security.