Embracing the Digital Era Drives Innovation by the VMware Physical Security Team

by: VMware Head of Physical Security and Resiliency Prasad Saranjame

VMware streamlines the journey for organizations to become digital businesses that deliver better experiences to their customers and empower employees to do their best work.

The VMware Physical Security and Resiliency team applied this mission to drive our own digital transformation. The three main areas of focus included scaling operations in support of the company’s growth, effectively managing the ever-expanding security risk landscape, and improving the physical security experience for our colleagues.

Our vision is to transform physical security at VMware from a traditional security operation into a modern, colleague-friendly and technology-enabled security experience in which our colleagues feel intrinsically safe without even noticing it. We call this Physical Security 2.0.

Rationale for Transformation

Historically, physical security teams have relied almost entirely on a strong presence of security guards. For a growing company like VMware, it is challenging for a physical security operations team to scale without constantly adding more labor. Then there is the ever-expanding landscape of security risks— from natural disasters to human-made disasters to a global pandemic.

While the COVID-19 pandemic introduced challenges to our physical security team, we viewed it as an opportunity to innovate. We started exploring how technology could play a larger role in our security operations to reduce the number of security guards needed on the front lines, lowering the risk of infection.

We were already on a path of transformation but the pandemic and increased levels of civil unrest in many parts of the world injected a stronger sense of urgency and served to accelerate our efforts. Additionally, fewer colleagues in the offices during the pandemic made it easier to experiment with new technologies without disrupting the business.

Innovation Fuels Transformation

In 2019, our CISO and CIO challenged us to rethink physical authentication and explore how we could reduce reliance on the traditional physical badge. Our team collaborated with the applications team to develop an innovative mobile app that functions as a digital badge to authenticate colleagues and unlock the doors to our facilities. By bringing the physical and digital worlds together, we reduce the security risk of lost or stolen badges.

This Digital Badge feature is now built into VMware Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub. We are transforming the badging and building access experience for both VMware colleagues, and our customers. We are now working on expanding the digital badge capability to authenticate colleagues for other services such as secure on-demand printing, vending machines and lockers.

Another innovation from our team is a new security operations mobile app developed in partnership with our application team. The app automates routine tasks such as incident reporting, materials management and staff attendance, and to digitize security logbooks. Our initial rollout in India already delivered considerable cost savings and environmental benefits including the elimination of hundreds of paper-based security logbooks.

Recently we completed Proof of Concept (POC) projects to test the integrated use of AI/ML-based video surveillance cameras, security robots, and an IoT management platform. In addition to simplifying how we manage and secure these devices, the platform provides a unified view into how these technologies function at the ‘Edge.’ We will use data collected by the platform to make better business decisions. While the application of these technologies in the physical security world is still in its infancy, initial results from the POC projects are promising.

Looking Ahead

Our focus in 2021 will be on a phased rollout of the digital badge, the security app, AI/ML on cameras, and robots, to VMware offices worldwide. We will also explore the feasibility of using drones to help keep our large campuses more secure.

We are collaborating with our End User Computing Business Unit as customer zero to adopt and provide product feedback on the Workspace ONE Campus app being built to enable a Future Ready workplace. The app provides a customized workplace experience for employees, allowing businesses to become “resilient anywhere” organizations.

We also plan to explore the potential for applying the use of robots, AI cameras and drones as use cases beyond security, in partnership with our Workplace (Facilities) and IT teams. We see these technologies as platforms to leverage for the support of many functions and various use cases.

Physical security for the enterprise has never been more exciting!

VMware on VMware blogs are written by IT subject matter experts sharing stories about digital transformation journey using VMware products and services in a global production environment. For more information, visit VMware on VMware online and follow us on Twitter (@VMWonVMW). Contact us to speak with one of our IT subject matter experts.


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