Access control and surveillance head-end equipment shown mounted in a 19-inch server rack alongside facility voice/data network gear.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Security 101
It’s hard to get integrators to jump on the bandwagon for just any technology. They’re a smart lot and want to know exactly what the benefits will be to the end-user because that’s how they sell it. In access control, IP technology is something they can’t seem to curb their enthusiasm over.
Access control systems (ACS) that reside on the network with an appliance or server, or those which are hosted or Software as a Service (SaaS), provide tangible savings in deployment and total cost of ownership (TCO). For the user, there’s the familiarity of the Internet to access and manage the facility, from anywhere the network is present or accessible. For the integrator, Web-based access control brings additional recurring revenue from maintenance, service and technical and managed services support.
When you put access control on the network, you open a world of possibilities, according to John Moss, chief executive officer of S2 Security Corp., Framingham, Mass. “There’s a huge savings in TCO, especially in an enterprise application, when you can eliminate wires and also, use Web-browser-based software. You can manage any asset from anywhere the network is available. Once you’re on the network, you can use power over Ethernet to operate electric strikes and more. One thing we know is that the end-user is driving the IP access control market and smart integrators find it quite cost effective to install,” he said. S2’s NetBox is an integrated physical security management system which uses network appliance architecture. The system provides credential-based access control, event and alarm monitoring, video surveillance, analog temperature monitoring and VoIP communications. Control is through a network appliance that delivers a user interface using only a traditional Web browser.
“The system operates like a common Web site, so users adapt to its sophisticated features with minimal training,” Moss said.
There’s more to this story. The migration to IP continues to play a huge role in the evolution of security dealer to systems integrator and now, value-added reseller.
Tim Feury, president of Altec Systems Inc. in Marietta, Ga., has been offering Web-based access control for several years, with positive results.
“I look at it as a great way to garner additional RMR,” he said. “I can bundle software, support and upgrades in a monthly charge.” The end-user, he said, is familiar with these monthly fees and generally welcomes them so as not to burden the IT staff. Altec Systems uses several products, including Connect ONE™ from Connected™ Technologies, a Web-Hosted Security and Energy Management System which can interface with DMP panels, and the suite of SaaS and server-based products available from Brivo Systems LLC. With the DMP backbone, he not only bundles browser-based access control but energy management with an IP thermostat control that his customers “just love because it offers big savings on HVAC costs,” Feury said.
As far as which variety of Web-based access control is best, he said it depends on the customer. “With hosted services, you don’t need VPN access and that makes it flexible to manage. On some applications based on servers at the network, the VPN must be used and it may not be readily accessible.”
Connected Technologies, Crystal Lake, Ill., and their Connect ONE product is the brainchild of a father-son company that believes strongly its 35 years in security—and now integration—gave it the right insights to create the perfect software for the end-user. Mike Simon, who is the marketing director of the company, has 35 years in the trenches and operates Stand Guard Inc. in Crystal Lake. He and his son, Dan Simon, technical director, started Connected Technologies over one year ago and wrote the new software-based hosted server solution that allows the integrator to manage the system for the end-user.
“The industry needed a way to increase its recurring revenue, especially for those companies with five to 50 employees who don’t have their own central station,” said Mike Simon. “When we developed the product we thought about recurring revenue and also, how we could serve the existing products across the board. We’re not loading software on the end-user’s network either.”
“Web hosting allows all kinds of devices to connect to the remote location,” said Dan Simon, technical director. “At the same time, the end-user has the flexibility to manage the permissions and levels of access easily. The dealer has their own portal for service and maintenance,” he added.
Security 101, based in Birmingham, Ala., is excited about offering robust Web access control to customers. The company, which is a franchise organization, recently delivered a Brivo Systems solution to Shape.net, a provider of Web-based health club management software systems, according to Ed Freyer PSP and director of Sales and Marketing for Security 101. The national company has some 14 offices and believes being able to offer this level of service—with integration and IT skills—is a big differentiator for them, according to Freyer.
“Security 101 comes from the integration side of the business but is migrating to networking and now considers itself a hybrid of a security and IT company,” according to Robert Cartee, Security 101 director of Operations for Birmingham and Nashville. “We know that’s where the industry is headed,” he said.
The Shape.net integration uses Brivo’s XML Application Programming Interface (API), which allows different systems to exchange data in the XML standard so they can “understand” one another. “With a system such as this, it doesn’t matter what devices you use. The company’s Web-hosted solutions are based on open technologies that connect dispersed facilities to the Internet using secure, wide-area communications,” Freyer said. Security 101 was instrumental in orchestrating the partnership and designing and implementing this innovative solution, he said, and it has been lauded as a case study for health club and other security systems.
Moving to the network, access control systems open a world of possibilities for not only the end-user but the integrator, who can offer additional services and secure their endeavors to become a network-savvy company.
Browser Accessible Check out these providers of IP access control:
Brivo Systems LLC—www.brivo.com
DSX Access Systems—www.dsxinc.com
S2 Security Corp.—www.s2sys.com
Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies—
Spice it Up!
There are many flavors or varieties of Web or IP access control. To add to the confusion, there’s managed access, a process that drills down into access control to manage permissions and levels of security.
Web-hosted and Web-based systems are different. Web hosting is a SaaS offering where the integrator or third party has a server that runs applications off site. Web-based or server based uses a server (embedded in a control panel or separate) or programming appliance that runs on the network.
Web hosting, some believe, is more device agnostic. “You can take all kinds of devices to connect to a remote location with Web hosting,” said Mike Simon of Connected Technologies.
Any kind of Web application, browser based, provides real value to the end-user, who knows how to navigate the medium quite freely now, but it’s important for the integrator to ask the manufacturer before purchasing equipment, exactly what type of system it is and if it requires additional hardware, which Web-based devices often do.