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IBM, GE lock up security partnership

The computer giant and General Electric's Interlogix business unit announce a joint agreement to provide integrated computer and physical security systems to large customers.

IBM and GE's Interlogix business unit announced a joint agreement Friday to provide integrated computer- and physical-security systems to large customers.

Under the terms of the agreement, GE Interlogix will integrate its security software with IBM's enterprise management and application server software to create systems meant to protect computer networks, buildings and employees.

An example of a possible project under the agreement would be an integrated security network in which employees' facility key cards are linked to the passwords on computer systems. Customers would benefit through increased security and lowered overhead, according to Ray Blair, vice president of business development at IBM Global Services.

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"Say one person 'badges-out' of a facility and 10 minutes later someone else tries to access a computer system using that person's password. Immediately alarms would go off," Blair said. "By integrating physical security with IT security tools you get a whole new level of protection."

IBM reported that the partnership would combine human resource systems and facilities management applications with physical security assets such as badge readers and intrusion and surveillance systems. The system would also link to "logical security capabilities," including single sign-on protection through smart cards, Blair said.

Blair said IBM and GE Interlogix have been working together for years to build internal security systems for their own companies and only recently decided to market their work to users. The companies estimate they have saved as much as 80 percent of the time and money they previously spent performing now-redundant security tasks, according to Blair.

Other potential applications could include facial recognition systems that identify when someone has illegally gained access to a secure facility, or radio frequency identification (RFID) tags inserted into laptop computers to track equipment movement around facilities, he said.

IBM will be responsible for providing IT security services and application integration for customers, and it will work with network partners to help customers integrate their information technology infrastructure and back-office systems. IBM will also handle overall project management when requested, the companies said.

Blair said the partnership is non-exclusive, allowing both companies the freedom to work with other vendors on similar projects. It will also let them maintain an open-systems architecture.

Under the deal, GE Interlogix will integrate its Facility Commander security integration software with IBM's Tivoli enterprise management software--including Tivoli Risk Manager and Tivoli Enterprise Console--and its WebSphere server software. GE Interlogix will also support IBM Directory Integrator and IBM DB2 database, IBM said.

IBM reported that it also plans to incorporate its IBM Tivoli Access Manager and IBM Tivoli Identity Manager into other GE products to integrate and automate identity management businesses processes with physical security practices.