So I’ve just come back from a very successful HID on the Desktop™ road show in Bangalore, India, where we presented our new converged access solution to 200 partners and end-users.
Having previously showcased HID on the Desktop to an audience of over 160 people in New Delhi, and with a similar audience expected in Chennai next month, that means over 500 people in India alone will have come to hear about the business benefits of selling or deploying converged physical and logical access solutions from HID.
It certainly was one of the most “spectacular” launches that we’ve done so far in Asia-Pacific. Not being content with the fabulous opulent architecture of our venue - the Leela Palace Bangalore - our Indian sales director, Ranjit Nambiar, decided to top things off by arranging for a set of velvet curtains to be dramatically pulled pack against a backdrop of music, lights and smoke to reveal a selection of HID on the Desktop products mounted inside a specially constructed presentation booth! Well not quite Las Vegas standards admittedly, but if the marketing department is interested Ranjit reckons he’s got the perfect concept to jazz up the HID booth at ISC West 2010.
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With a high proportion of IT savvy partners and end-users, India in many ways represents the ideal marketplace for selling and adopting converged access solutions. Many Fortune 500 companies have operations based in India - especially in IT hubs such as Bangalore. If an organization is bound by regulatory requirements in its country of origin such as Sarbanes Oxley that requires monitoring of, and controlled access to, its valuable or sensitive assets, then these same regulations will also apply to their Indian subsidiaries. Compliance can typically be best achieved by deploying solutions such as HID on the Desktop that can provide risk appropriate authentication to IT networks.
Indian Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has been used by companies worldwide to help deliver increase operational efficiencies. In 2008 the Indian BPO market from IT services alone was estimated to be worth USD $30 billion. BPO companies must deliver cost savings without sacrificing quality and this is typically achieved through a heavy reliance on IT systems. There was general appreciation from the audience that HID on the Desktop can help users stay productive by minimizing the downtime that results from account lockouts and by reducing the number of calls that they have to make to the IT helpdesk for password resets. This in turn allows the IT helpdesk to run leanly and results in more time being spent on solving business critical IT issues that can fuel further operational efficiency.
We also received interest from one of India’s largest call centers. This particular operation needs to deliver 24x7 service 365 days a week since its clients are based around the world. The call center employs a series of highly regimented shift workers, who answer customer calls using a network of shared terminals. One of the benefits of HID on the Desktop is that it allows multiple users to be logged onto the same machine with their own secure sessions simultaneously whilst allowing individual users to securely access any machine for which they have permission to use - even if that machine is another building or even country. To help maintain quality of service and support auditing requirements the owner of the call center also wanted to know who was logged onto each machine at any specific time and when each operator last logged onto the system. Fortunately this information can be pulled using the reporting function in HID’s naviGO software.
Numerous systems integrators who were present at the show concurred that their end -users are increasingly looking for a more holistic approach to deploying physical access and logical access. The business benefits to end-users provided by HID on the Desktop of reduced cost, increased convenience, increased user productivity and increased compliance are real and demonstrable - and no smoke and mirrors required, honestly!
Recently, the Obama administration released a report on the state of cyber security in this country and offered recommendations for securing and protecting cyberspace.
The administration has already implemented one of the recommendations - “elevating leadership for cyber security-related policies at the White House.”
TechAmerica, the leading industry organization giving the United States technology community a voice in cyber-related issues, praised the report for its vision. While the report covers a wide range of topics from strengthening federal leadership and accountability for cyber security to increasing cyber security education, its discussion of identity management issues affects many TechAmerica members, including HID Global. As the report states, “we cannot improve cyber security without improving authentication ”
With the convergence of physical and logical access control accelerating in both the public and private sector, secure authentication deserves center stage. Secure authentication can also enhance privacy by ensuring that individuals trying to access personal information are who they say they are.
Citing Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), the report recommends that the Federal government ensures “resources are available for full federal implementation of HSPD-12.” In large part, this addresses the concern that, although nearly 500,000 personal identity verification (PIV) cards have been issued to Federal employees, those cards are often used only as flash passes. This defeats the security inherent in electronic authentication of those credentials.
The report goes one step further in suggesting that such federal identity management systems be extended to “operators of critical infrastructure and to private-sector emergency response and repair service providers.” This would significantly expand the scope of the federal credentialing system.
Private industry, including HID Global, has been working with the federal government to provide solutions that will deliver innovative solutions for physical and logical access control. Building on, and solidifying such public-private partnerships will enhance our country’s efforts to secure and protect cyber space for generations to come.
HID has had several slogans around a converged credential, such as; “Do more than open the door” and “One card does it all”.
Until recently the notion of carrying a single credential for multiple applications was largely unfulfilled, but as new vertical markets evaluate the benefits of leveraging their install base, we will begin to see more and more converged solutions.
As the leader in the physical access control space, it is only natural that HID continues to expand on opportunities that will allow you to use the card that gets you in the door for other applications within the enterprise. This has led to the convergence of physical and logical access control. The addition of logical access readers under the OMNIKEY brand name, a multi-technology credential branded Crescendo, and the latest release of HID on the Desktop™ with naviGO™ software to manage token based authentication for Microsoft Window® login, puts HID in a position to provide the largest breadth of products for the appropriate interfaces and security for laptop and desktop users to take advantage of their physical access control credential for logical access applications.
Although credential convergence seems localized to the enterprise environment, we are starting to see it emerge in various other vertical markets. For instance, U.S. Bank, one of the largest financial institution in the United States, is currently piloting a credit card that combines a standard magnetic stripe, contactless Visa® payWave, and contactless HID iCLASS. A representative of the company sent me an email stating, “I just used my new card to purchase lunch with the magnetic stripe, buy a soda from a vending machine with PayWave, and used iCLASS to get back in the building, all without a hitch”. There are a number of other pilots that are taking place as well, which are combining physical access with other vertical markets such as transit and asset management.
I believe that while credential convergence will continue to grow, without proper training or continued evaluation and testing of the card, growth will be inhibited due to the lack of personnel with the skill set necessary to support the integration of disparate applications. Continued education, manufacturer co-operations, and the willingness to communicate across previously hostile inter-departmental barriers are the keys to the future success of the converged credential.