Dynamic Change Looms for a Traditional EAC Industry

Security Technology Executive (STE) editorial director Steve Lasky recently posed some pointed questions for two leading access control vendors and a top national systems integrator to offer their take on the new technology landscape. This continuing series of technology-sponsored Roundtables-in-Print includes Steve Wagner is President of Open Options, a security industry veteran of 35-plus years; Ian Lowe, Product Marketing Director for HID SAFE and the newly released WorkforceID at HID Global; and Phil Lutes, President of Signature Systems of Florida since 1992, who has installed and serviced access control systems since the 1980s in a variety of vertical markets.

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Covid-19: An Important Update for Our Customers

Open Options' General Manager, Chuck O'Leary, releases official statement on the current situation. View the official statement below.

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  Covid-19 (291 KB)

Dear Open Options customers,

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation develops, all of our lives will undoubtedly be affected.

Families, communities, and businesses are navigating a truly unprecedented global event. In this time, we know it’s critical that we operate and adapt to a safe working environment.

We are closely monitoring the situation, making judgments and decisions daily with the rapidly changing environmental conditions. We have advised our staff to avoid travel at this time, and to conduct meetings remotely through alternative communication tools.

We know that this challenges normal business practice, however, we feel that it is an appropriate precaution for both our employees and customers. We are following the guidance of our respective governments and health authorities and will ensure swift and diligent action in accordance with any regulation that is mandated.

As we allow many of our employees to work from home, there will be little disruption to our regular service and support hours. We’ll be sure to update you if things change via our website, and through other communication means. As of today, many of our suppliers have confirmed that they remain open for business and are addressing product stock supplies.

We thank you for your continued loyalty. Your business is important to us, and we know that communication is critical during times such as these.

Best regards,

Chuck O’Leary | General Manager

Divide and Conquer Training Sessions

The Open Options training team divided their resources this past month in order to connect with dealers and system users across the country.

The training team kicked off their regional training classes with the first stop in Boise, Idaho. The class was full of eager students ready to learn more about the DNA Fusion software and how easy it is to see and administer. This was a great beginning to a year packed with training classes; many of which will find the Open Options Training team connecting with customers from coast to coast.

Meanwhile back at Open Options headquarters, a class of system users was learning and exploring the features of the DNA Fusion software. The group of students came from all areas of North America: Canada, Colorado, and Mississippi to name a few. These students all had one thing in common; they were all sent here to learn and to deploy for the first time within their prospective organizations, DNA Fusion software. Leading the Class was Sherinda Barrow, Director, Education Services, Open Options.

“Our first steps were to explain the importance of Best Practices in Access Control,” states Barrow.

“We discussed the importance of laying a solid foundation.”

The end result: all of the students left with new ideas on how to structure their system to make it tailored for their environment. One of the students commented “I am glad I took the class now and not five years down the road. I am learning how to configure the system for ease-of-use for our operators in the field.” While some of the system users had larger systems, all students benefited from the shared learning experience.

The Open Options training department is excited to have eager students that are looking for ways to optimize the DNA Fusion system.

Saved by the Bell: When Alarms Are Down for the Count

A customer felt as if his access control system had been knocked down when he was unable to rely on the graphics maps configured inside DNA Fusion to accurately report alarms at a school. Because tech support could not see the issue as it happened in real time, the Professional Services team at Open Options stepped into the ring to get the issue resolved before it was too late.

“I was asked to travel to the customer's site and see if I could find out what was going on,” said John Hubbard, National Sales Engineer on Open Options’ Professional Services team. “Once on site, the customer requested that we get to one of the schools early before everyone entered the building, so she could show me what her issue was. I met her at the school, and we were immediately able to see the issue.”

After comparing the log files for DNA Fusion and the Bosch panel, the Open Options engineer uncovered that some of the alarms in the Bosch panel were not being detected and reported in DNA Fusion. “Now that we could see the issue, I was able to bring the information back to our developers in order for them to resolve the issue,” explained Hubbard.

But the fix would take time, which the customer did not exactly have. With precious minutes quickly ticking away on this alarming challenge, the Professional Services engineer proactively developed a workaround in the software to help allow for more reliable reporting of the alarms from the Bosch panel into DNA Fusion.

“This workaround made the customer happy,” said Hubbard. “Also, knowing that we now could see clearly what her issue was, this went a long way in making the customer feel like the issue would get completely resolved in no time.”

This is just another example of how Open Options Connect Care turns a situation around for a customer. The access control system may have been knocked down at the start of the whole ordeal, but it was not out. In the end, Professional Services championed a solution for the customer, and the issue was resolved once and for all (with the help of the development team).

To this day, this customer continues to be a good partner, openly showcasing the success they have had with DNA Fusion. As with all customers, if you ever have an issue that needs a proactive approach, rest assured that the Open Options Professional Services team is in your corner.

Lost in Space: How a Credential Was Compromised

A student momentarily spaced out and lost his badge, which he used to access school buildings. Then an unauthorized person found it, copied it and used it to try to access the school grounds. The end-user customer was not aware that the credential, which the school was issuing to students and faculty, was using legacy technology and is vulnerable to be easily copied. Since the school was using DNA Fusion as the access control software, they contacted Open Options to provide them with a solution to upgrade their current technology.

“The end-user at the school was literally shocked to discover that the credential with legacy technology, which the school had been using for years, could be easily compromised,” explained Ben Vestal, Vice President of Sales at Open Options. “I immediately reached out to our counterparts: HID Global for their expertise in providing a new credential technology, as well as the system integrator for their knowledge and implementation.” 

There was space for improvement. The lost credential itself was compromised because it fell into the wrong hands, but the reality was that any credential from any student could be compromised at any time. The threat was real. Not only could thieves easily use a student badge to pretend to be a student and burglarize a school without detection, but hackers could also steal information from readers running the legacy technology.

To address the issue, Open Options helped the end-user determine a more advanced solution for a new level of security that would prevent their school’s credentials from being compromised in the future. “They asked us for a solution to upgrade their system to a newer, more secure technology,” added Vestal.

The technology that met the criteria was HID Seos. A proof of concept was provided. New credentials and readers were subsequently acquired to facilitate the upgrade.

Open Options also provided a comprehensive plan to ensure that the transition from the current technology to the new solution would be managed smoothly. In partnership with the system integrator, the budget and the timeframe for completion were quickly established. The upgrade was truly a team effort, with the Open Options sales team making the right connections for the end-user customer. 

“The end user was impressed with the entire process and, after evaluating the proof of concept, selected the solution that Open Options provided,” said Vestal. “The transition and implementation were completed successfully, and the end user was very happy with the results. The process resulted in a more secure campus with a state-of-the-art solution.”

Guardians of the Galaxy for Access Control: Tech Support on Mercury and Juniper

An end-user customer was having connection issues with their Mercury MR51e controllers and the connection between the controllers and Juniper hardware. They were unable to get stable connectivity for their access control system to stay operational. This is where Open Options Tech Support, having a broader view of the multi-faceted system, launched on its mission to solve the issues for the customer.

“The end-user contacted Zack in Tech Support, who identified the problem as being a firmware issue on the MR51e’s and functionality with the Juniper hardware that we were already working with Mercury on,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options. “We had a ticket opened with Mercury to address the issue and to get a firmware version that would solve the problem. It appeared the issue was only unique to Juniper hardware, as we have never seen it manifest with Cisco hardware.”

Once Tech Support received the firmware solution, Zack remoted in and upgraded the firmware across all their MR51e’s to a version of firmware that would allow the Juniper hardware and Mercury sub-controllers to work without any issue.

Once the firmware was in place, Zack verified that all their hardware was online. He also maintained regular checks with the dealer to ensure they were not experiencing any further issues.

“The dealer and end-user were happy that their hardware was staying online and that their access control system was fully operational,” added Robran.

Providing tech support for a customer with serious connectivity issues that impact an access control system may not be as galactic in scope as guarding the whole world and beyond, but it sure means something significant to the end-user customer at the time they need it. As part of its Connect Care commitment to end-users, Open Options provides access that connects, even when it involves other companies’ products in the end-to-end access control system.