The Case for Open Systems

The current migration to IP-based solutions may be the most aggressive technological shift ever seen in the security industry, but dislodging decades of installed proprietary systems will be a long-term endeavor for proponents of open architecture. John Moss, CEO and co-founder of Framingham, Mass.-based S2 Security Corp., and a leading advocate for open systems, discusses some of the forces against swifter adoption of open systems.

What do you consider to be a main roadblock to open systems?

It is the lack of investment in product development. The vast majority of the industry is controlled by a relatively small number of mega-corporations where the investment is disproportionately in sales and marketing, compared to R&D. They are mostly servicing their installed base and secondarily acquiring new business with the products they’ve had either for years or with minor variance with those products.

What are the stakes for a company that pursues the philosophy you espouse?

The bet we are making is that there will be enough sales, enough user preference, enough customers that prefer best-of-breed choice to a single supplier choice. We’re betting the volume of sales will make up for the fact that once we have a customer, we have to stay on our toes with him because others could write to our products.

What danger do closed systems pose to the industry?

There really is not a danger to where we are in our industry as a result of this closed pursuit, but there is a danger to the companies that pursue it. We see a lot of end users who look at products and come right out and say, ‘I want to be able to put the product on my network with anything else. I want to be able to run PoE to drive my devices.’ At the end of the day these things cost the end user a lot less to operate a system. The end users drive this, not the manufacturers.

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