With Cisco certification, Interface Security Systems poised for growth

ISS credits bundled services for double-digit RMR growth during recession
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Thursday, June 30, 2011

ST. LOUIS—Following record growth during the recession-plagued years of 2008-2010, Interface Security Systems executives believe that their company today stands at the brink of another huge growth spurt.

In a milestone that ISS CEO Michael Shaw calls “a huge breakthrough,” Shaw announced June 20 that ISS has been certified as an Advanced Managed Services Channel Partner by Cisco. In July ISS will begin marketing its Secure Managed Cloud Services through a special Cisco program.

What does that mean? It means “we’ll now have Cisco value added resellers across the country introducing us to their customers. This will dramatically increase our feet on the street and exposure,” Shaw said.

 “We already know our [bundled data and physical security] solutions work well based on the adoption rate through our own initiative,” he said. And he expects the new relationship with Cisco to translate into even more rapid adoption.

ISS, which was founded by Shaw in 1996, has its roots as a traditional security integrator. In 2007, the company acquired network services and IP integration firm LPM, which had its own nationwide high-speed IP aggregation network.

With this acquisition, ISS expanded its services to include Wide-Area Network management, PCI compliance, IP alarm monitoring, IP video surveillance and digital voice.

It’s an acquisition that has paid off.

Between 2008 and 2010, while many integrators were struggling to stay even on RMR, the company had CAGR of 15 percent. “We’ve been growing by leaps and and bounds,” Shaw said. After ISS acquired LPM in 2007, it had “just over $3 million in RMR and we’ll end 2011 with $6 million in RMR. This is all organic growth,” Shaw said.

The company has added about 100 employees since 2007 to a total today of 625. It has 22 branch offices across the country. The company retrained all of its commercial sales people to sell the bundled services and developed a national account sales team. It also expanded and remodeled its Secure Operations Center. To cover areas where it does not have brick and mortar offices, ISS partners with an Atlanta-based company called Endeavor, which has a network of 9,000 field engineers across the country.

ISS provides its bundled physical and logical services to customers that include Caterpillar, Sunoco, Williams-Sonoma, and a number of quick-service restaurants and retail establishments including Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.

“We’ve taken a regional company and turned it into a national platform. All of our growth has been done on Cisco’s core routing and switching platform. We’ve taken an enterprise-level solution [for bundling data and physical security applications on a broadband connection that we manage in the cloud] to the small- and medium-sized business market. It’s a solution that most small- and medium-sized businesses couldn’t afford unless it was bundled,” Shaw explained.

Cisco took note of the volume of routers ISS was selling and approached ISS last year about becoming a Managed Services Channel Partner, said Robert Aranda, IP Services president for ISS. 

Cisco approached ISS about the certification when it realized the volume of business ISS was doing. “We wanted to get closer to the company and make sure we were supporting them,” Brad Burns, partner account manager Service Provider Channels for Cisco, told Security Systems News.

“We didn’t realize how many routers they had deployed and how [extensively and well] they’d leveraged our technology,” he said. “They are unique. A lot of Cisco partners don’t have that [physical security] expertise.”

Aranda said the Cisco certification includes a “rigorous third-party audit of all Interface’s internal process and procedures.” Fewer than 100 companies worldwide have achieved this certification, he said.

“With POTS going away, if you’re not ready to provide your customer with an immediate, proven solution, someone else is going to do that,” Shaw said. With this new relationship with Cisco, “we are excited about more robust growth and expansion.”