Back to School: 1-on-1 Training, Overrides and a “Ghost”

Back to school means back to training, with several schools bringing in Open Options for not only equipping groups of system users but also one-on-one sessions for extra hands-on training. No two sessions are the same since Open Options tailors training material to meet the system administrator’s specific needs.

“Back to school time is always a busy season for Open Options training, and since late August, we’ve found ourselves supporting schools on many levels,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services at Open Options.

On a recent visit to the Denver area, the company took the “Open Options classroom” to a local community college that has DNA Fusion implemented across multiple campuses.

“The system user had already attended Administrator training in 2016 but felt they could benefit from some personalized training,” said Barrow. “The college put together a list of topics they wanted to cover so they could expand their DNA Fusion installation and take advantage of some of the unique features offered by the software.”

During the one-on-one training, the system user learned for the first time how to issue “override” cards, so that in the event of a lockdown, emergency first responders can enter through doors that have been locked. The new feature in DNA Fusion provides a more straightforward method for securing access points while still allowing access to specific cards that are used by first responders.

Interestingly, this training session also included the identification of a “ghost.” Barrow explained, “During the visit, a ghost event popped up, and the ‘ghost’ was quickly chased down to a door position sensor that had not been properly labeled.” Furthermore, when it was discovered during the training that the college was using an older version of DNA Fusion, a collaboration between Training and Tech Support supported the end-user customer to upgrade. “Open Options’ Technical Support team sat in the wings as the customer upgraded to the latest and greatest version of DNA Fusion, and the college is currently working with Open Options training to fine-tune their lockdown procedure,” added Barrow. “It is this kind of joint effort across departments to assist our customers that make Open Options an excellent team-oriented organization.”

No DNA Fusion, No Active Directory Integration, No Problem

To secure their schools, a large school district on the gulf coast of Florida could not take any chances with a migration to new, enterprise-level access control to replace their existing access control hodge-podge that ran on five separate servers. They needed assurance that the installation of DNA Fusion with Active Directory integration would go smoothly. The customer saw value in calling in Open Options’ Professional Services.

The school district had never used DNA Fusion, and they were concerned that the integration of DNA Fusion with Active Directory would be problematic. The person responsible for access control had no experience with DNA Fusion. They requested that Professional Services support them with the software configuration and rollout. No problem.

As a proof of concept (POC), the district required the installation of a pilot system at one of their schools, consisting of 34 access-controlled doors. Open Options' Professional Services was engaged to spend a full week on-site to assist in commissioning the system and configuring Active Directory (AD) integration. The district chose DNA Fusion for the enterprise-like capabilities they wanted for access control ̶ albeit, customized for a school district.

“The decision to bring in Professional Services was because it would provide a high level of assurance that DNA Fusion and AD integration would be installed and configured properly, as well as having an on-site resource to assist with any potential issues as they might arise,” said William Murphey, Professional Services Manager at Open Options. “Our team took on the project to travel to the customer's site and work for a week with them and the dealer installing the hardware to install DNA Fusion with AD integration.”

Open Options Professional Services personnel worked with the customer's IT team to configure the servers for installation. Once completed, the installation was carried out within the time allotted, including time for testing and troubleshooting the system configuration.

“By working with the customer in such a close manner, we were able to recommend best practices and configuration options for future sites,” said Murphey. “This led to the customer redesigning the planned hardware configuration for the remainder of the sites, as well as choosing to engage Open Options Professional Services for the upcoming 3 to 4 installations to ensure project success.”

In the end, thanks to the excellent experience with the Professional Services team, the school district decided to move forward with Open Options and DNA Fusion for the rest of their schools.

Frozen: How Tech Support Helped a Customer with a Problem “Let It Go”

A school phoned Open Options’ Tech Support to report that their DNA Fusion software was freezing up randomly multiple times per hour. The problem was adversely affecting dozens of people using the system at any one time. To resolve the issue of the “frozen” access control system, Tech Support fired up the teamwork.

Zack Davis, a technician in Tech Support at Open Options, answered the call from this school and listened to the customer explain how the lockup of the system would render the software “unusable” until the program was terminated and reopened. Zack was able to remote into the customer’s computer and verify the problem. The diagnostics of DNA Fusion, along with all the other necessary log files, were uploaded back to Open Options for analysis.

When he determined that there was nothing that stood out to be causing this odd issue, and the senior technicians were not able to find anything, Zack connected with the Software Development department within Open Options, forwarding details of the problem to Gary Bell, VP of Software Development.

“The way Open Options addressed this customer’s issue is a great example of cooperation between departments,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options. “Zack kept an open line with the Software Development team and was checking multiple times a day with them to answer questions and pass on recommendations to the customer. Zack was crucial in relaying the information back and forth as quickly as he could, and he maintained a constant vigilance for emails throughout the weekend and after hours. He showed that he cared about the customer experience.”

After days of troubleshooting and constant feedback from the customer, Gary and his Software Development team discovered the root of the issue: the NREGSrv COM+ object was exceeding its pool size.

“We had never seen this at a site before, and our default setting for this was 64,” Robran explained. “This had been more than enough in the past, but due to this discovery, Development has now increased that to 128 to avoid this happening at other customer sites.”

Zack was able to get back with the customer and upgrade their system to handle the increased demand that was causing the issue on the DNA Server. To ensure all was well, Zack continued to monitor the site to verify that they were able to run DNA Fusion without it freezing up anymore.