Cisco Systems lent considerable validation to the convergence front when the networking giant announced plans late Monday to acquire IP-based video surveillance provider BroadWare.

The deal, for which terms were not disclosed, will enable Cisco customers to implement digital surveillance video across an organization, instead of analog solutions, thereby permitting "faster investigation response and event resolution," according to a Cisco statement.

"By using the IP network as a platform to converge applications, companies can easily integrate and synchronize video with other safety and security systems, as well as other business tools," the statement said.

Industry players today said the Cisco acquisition of the privately held Santa Clara, Calif.-based BroadWare speaks to a growing collaboration between physical and digital security.

"It’s great news for our market," Dave Gerulski, vice president of marketing of Atlanta-based Steelbox, told SCMagazine.com. "We’ve been talking about the convergence of IT and physical security for the past few years. It’s really starting to show."

Steve Hunt, founder and president of analyst firm 4A International, said Cisco’s purchase complements its $51 million buy last year of SyPixx Networks, a hardware company that enables analog video systems to operate on an IP network.

Hunt describes SyPixx as the front-end, user-experience component, while BroadWare provides the "plumbing in the background."

He added that the BroadWare acquisition was expected after Cisco served as a platinum sponsor of the recent ISC West, a major physical security trade show.

"The bottom line is Cisco needed to make an acquisition like this to keep up the momentum," Hunt said.

Cisco executives said in the statement that the deal, expected to close in July, will let IP-enabled video extend across different environments and networks.

"Cisco views the video surveillance infrastructure market as an immediate high-growth opportunity that requires the ability to support both IP and analog device installations," said Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s Emerging Market Technologies Group

Hunt said he does not expect IT departments to buy into the convergence movement more quickly because of this announcement.

"Unless the IT folks feel some pain that’s going to drive them to purchasing IP cameras, they’re going to be reluctant to just throw cameras on their networks," Hunt said. "They either have to be forced into it or turned on by it."

Cisco is not the only major IT player to invest in physical security of late. Novell recently announced a partnership with Honeywell and IBM and Oracle have developed their own internal convergence solutions.

Gerulski said IP-enabled video and analytics will continue to gain momentum because they cut business costs and provide organizations with enhanced security by "letting the computer do the thinking for them."

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