March 16, 2010 -- Ask your typical security director if he's using Mercury panels for access control and you might get a blank stare. Mercury's hardware is the panel that controls electronic door access control; it's the glue that runs the logic and power when someone uses a key card to open a door. But while Mercury access panels are the most common panels in the business, most security directors don't know they're installed, because Mercury's panels are commonly private labeled to a number of different access control system companies.
Today, S2 Security announced an integration partnership with Mercury that allows those Mercury panels -- even the private-labeled ones -- to be controlled by S2's access control product line. The partnership allows S2 to interface with all of the Mercury panels that have a built-in Ethernet port (or older ones which have the serial-to-ethernet adapter installed). According to S2 Security's CEO John Moss, this allows end-users to upgrade to a Web-based system without having to rip out hardware.
"With the partnership with Mercury, there are a lot of systems in the field with legacy head-ends, but the systems themselves have Mercury hardware which is an excellent product. They are quite workable and you can expand with those [Mercury panels]. The first and second generation head-ends are out of date, and owners sometimes have no choice but to rip that stuff out or to look at some solution that integrates their legacy hardware base."
The difference between so-called first and second generation head-ends that Moss speaks of and a "third generation" system like S2's is really one of architecture. In a typical second-generation style of system, there is a server which talks to the Mercury panels, but for users to access the server-run access control system, they need to either be working directly at the server or have a "client" software installed on their PC.
The partnership is especially designed for security system users that have had a good smaller system (think Perry or Northern) in place and who wish to expand to a newer, more full-featured system like S2. Moss said it's also good for those larger companies whose IT departments see a problem in standard second generation server-and-client type of architecture.
Moss says that need for software on PCs is often seen as a negative for corporate IT departments, because it means one more software system to manage across a corporate network. Instead, the S2 model is that a PC used to control the access system remotely needs no software. Rather, the S2 unit functions as a Web server, allowing the end-user to simply navigate to a special Web address to access administrative functionality of the company's access control system.
"When we do a software update, to add new features or fix bugs, you never touch the client PCs; you only touch the server," Moss explained. "The client computers never get updated, the IT department wants that [ease of updating]."
Mercury Security Corporation's co-founder and CTO Frank Gasztonyi said that integrating with S2 was a good move for the company and for users of his company's products. "We believe that S2 Security's unique value proposition and market approach provides Mercury with another opportunity to exhibit the power and flexibility of our open controller platform," Gasztonyi said.
Moss added that the ability to integrate Mercury panels with S2's products also allows for some companies to invest in solid-state access control systems, which have a higher mean time between failure. One of the products that S2 has offered is a system called the S2 Netbox. It's designed for small and mid-sized organizations, where the access control "server" is fully solid state - meaning no moving parts like fans or spinning hard drives to fail.
S2's system, while primarily designed to manage door access control, also supports video and alarm monitoring. S2 will be exhibiting this technology solution at ISC West 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 24-26.