A Tale of Two Integration Setups: Fixing an Idemia Integration Issue

During their setting up the Idemia integration, a customer was having issues enabling full functionality for secure access control. The dealer was not able to resolve it, so they called into Tech Support at Open Options. Living up to its reputation for fast and skillful support of DNA Fusion users, Tech Support figured out the root cause immediately.

“After reviewing the issue and logs, our Technical Support Supervisor, Zack Davis, determined that they were attempting to utilize part of the old integration setup and part of the new integration set up,” said Nicholas Robran, Vice President of Customer Support at Open Options. “This was the root of the issue causing the integration to not work correctly.”

With the experience that Open Options Tech Support has come to be known for, Zack had already stepped through both methods and knew the best way to solve the issue was to get them on the newer streamlined method of a direct connection with the Idemia system.  He upgraded DNA Fusion to the latest 7.8 version and then completed the new setup. 

He ensured that this was a new integration, as there would have been extra steps if they had migrated from the old integration method to the new. Once complete, Zack stepped through the process with them but immediately found two issues that still need to get resolved. As usual, Tech Support would continue helping until all issues are resolved.

Due to the streamlined communication between the Support Team and the Development Team within Open Options, the technical support supervisor involved the Development Team right away. As a result, they were able to solve those two small issues quickly. 

“Once the issues were all resolved, Zack once again walked through the process to ensure they were all set up and good to go,” added Robran, reflecting the commitment at Open Options to customer satisfaction. “He then did a follow-up call a couple of days later to check in on the customer and found that they were very happy, and the integration was functioning 100 percent to their satisfaction.”

Nicholas Robran, Vice President of Customer Support at Open Options

New Training Certification Program Helps Canadian Dealers “Cross the Border” Virtually

As the pandemic continues to limit people’s ability to travel, the Training department within Open Options has taken its training programs online to benefit dealers and system users.

Recently, Open Options offered its first ConnectEd iLearn Essentials Certification program as a digital experience, accommodating the urgent need of a Canadian dealer who has several DNA Fusion installations coming up. The online training from our U.S. operation allowed the dealer to virtually “cross the border” to acquire the knowledge necessary to get new sites up and running.

“This new certification format provides the same hands-on, personalized training that Open Options is known for conducting,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director, Education Services  at Open Options. “One of the students commented that the training was the best webinar they had attended during this strange time of the pandemic and how he really enjoyed the interactive portion of the training.”

The online class is a mixture of lecture and hands-on lab exercises that build on each student’s system knowledge as the class progresses. Each student is placed into a VM lab session to configure their systems and get some practical experience. This gives the students the ability to attain the knowledge of the DNA Fusion product from the safety of their own environment.

With the success of the first iLearn Essentials class, Open Options is scheduling additional ConnectEd iLearn sessions on the Training calendar. The next iLearn Essentials session will take place on October 13th–15th. Class size is limited to four students and requires the students to have two (2) monitors to view the instructor’s computer and configure in their individual DNA Fusion system.

Please contact the Open Options training department to register for the iLearn Essentials class.

Upgrade to Superior Access Control Gets a Boost from Professional Services

A company was eager to replace its legacy access control system with DNA Fusion, a far superior access control system. Since the conversion only involved nine doors, everyone expected it to be a quick conversion and to go smoothly. But when you’re dealing with an inferior access control system, unexpected problems can arise. The Professional Services team at Open Options was brought in early to handle the unexpected.

The first thing that the Open Options Professional Services representative did was collect all the data to convert the system. Then he tried to bring the new system online, but found out that the conversion would not go as smoothly as planned. Eight out of the nine doors did not convert.

“The issue stemmed from the fact that there were three wireless transmitters in the mix,” said Michael Digby, Professional Services representative at Open Options. “Those had to be correctly identified as to which door they were linked with. I had to dive into the customer’s original database and I discovered all the required information for the doors. I also verified that the remaining items converted correctly.”

He sent the converted database to the integrator to complete the conversion. However, the integrator hit an issue on restore with all but one door working when he brought it online. Michael assisted in tracking down the issue. It turned out that the door was previously not operational.

Finally, the integrator was able to successfully get the site online with DNA Fusion.

“The integrator and the customer didn’t have to worry any longer about inferior access control software,” added Digby. “After the conversion, DNA Fusion was fully operational, and everyone was happy.”

Just when a customer thinks they don’t need Professional Services, an issue comes up. Open Options’ Professional Services stay ahead of the issues. Because they were involved from the beginning, the customer averted a mini-crisis.

Six Challenges Open Options Solved for a School District

Open Options specializes in addressing challenges associated with legacy access control systems. For the Sales team at Open Options, each customer challenge is an opportunity to advance the customer to a better solution. Do any of these six challenges resonate with you?

  • Existing access control system did not allow for wireless locks to be integrated
  • Rising demand for fever detection reader devices, trace reporting and visitor management software with questions focused around COVID
  • Not being able to do a system-wide shutdown in case of an emergency
  • Stuck with proprietary hardware, readers and cards
  • High ongoing cost of maintaining legacy system and credentials
  • Cumbersome reporting and limited scheduling functionality

A school district was strapped with all of these issues, so they called Open Options to find out how the access control company could help. The Open Options sales team welcomed the opportunity to address these challenges.

First, the Open Options team showed how an upgrade to DNA Fusion and Mercury panels would allow the end-user to retro-fit certain hard-to-reach doors and areas by using wireless locks. Then they explained the option to integrate fever detection reader devices, trace reporting and COVID-related visitor management software integrations, if needed in the future.

The end-user was concerned about how they were locked into proprietary hardware, readers and cards. Cost was a factor. The cost of each card was too high, creating a budget issue over a 5 year plan with new hires, lost cards and vendors. Open Options helped find the correct reader and card combination to lower costs vs their existing system.

“We were able to demonstrate the power of DNA Fusion in a school district environment,” said Shannon Diddell, Sales Representative at Open Options. “This included school and district-wide shutdowns for a major school district in the Southeast. We demonstrated a wide range of technology partner integrations, which included standard and wireless readers. We were also able to share the benefits of using a non-proprietary hardware configuration.” The school system did a district-wide change to Open Options, which is still currently being deployed.  Over the next 5 years, the school district is now positioned to experience a more enhanced software feature set, which allows for better lock down capabilities, easier reporting and integration with newer technologies around COVID and other school access issues. The overall move will also save them thousands of dollars each year with reader selections and credentials.

Top 8 DNA Fusion Features for Version 7.8

DNA Fusion 7.8 brings many exciting improvements. Today we will highlight the most notable additions. To view all 72 improvements and new features view the change log here.

  1. LifeSafety Power Integration
    • In the above video, you can get a glimpse of a user utilizing the LifeSafety Power integration. With the new integration DNA Fusion system users now have the ability to control up to 40 inputs and 20 outputs directly from within DNA Fusion instantly or timed. Prior to the integration, users had to log in to the NL4 board’s web interface to get diagnostic information. Anyone who logged in could indirectly change the programming of the NL4 without other user's knowledge. Now In DNA Fusion users can access the NL4 via the hardware tree based on operator permissions. Additionally, the integration surfaces diagnostic functionality including fire alarm, ac failure, test battery, etc. Lastly the ability to power cycle controllers/sub-controllers to prevent requiring a technician to be on-site immediately, if wired accordingly.
  2. Dormakaba Wi-Q lock integration via mercury
    • 7.8 includes integration to Dormakaba Wi-Q locks, it also important to note you can now purchase Dormakaba locks and the BEST WI-Q Gateway from Open Options as well.  Introducing the Wi-Q locks have built-in Wi-Fi access point so you get better range than BLE which allows for more flexibility in the system design. This integration is not using any existing Wi-Fi infrastructure of the facility therefore not causing any extra strain to the network. Offers a cost-effective solution to expand electronic access control to additional portals Higher density of doors per gateway than other integrations
  3. ACT ID- mobile credentials
    • ACT ID mobile credential can be issued from the enrollment button. The credential number automatically syncs the credential number with DNA Fusion when the app is installed on the device. The mobile credential will allow authorized personnel to unlock doors equipped with compatible WaveLynx readers. This is a no-cost mobile credential. No operator interaction required to update the mobile credential if the personnel replaces their phone and keeps their original phone number. No longer have to worry about replacing lost physical credentials. 
    • Learn More
  4. Hanwha Wave Integration
  5. Salient Restful integration
    • Moved to Salient restful integration to future proof DNA Fusion integration.
  6. Upgraded Exacq video integration
    • Updates to Exacq new software (future proof).
  7. Expanded Allegion Engage Integration
    • With the expansion of the Allegion Engage integration user are now able to program up to 1023 gateways within DNA Fusion. Want to know where we got the idea to expand the integration? Read the full customer story here.
  8. Changed the default Visual Theme to Visual Studio Dark
    • The new default look of DNA Fusion on a fresh install.

Tech Support Dives Deep into Logs to Identify Problem with Wireless Locks

An integrator was upgrading the ASSA ABLOY DSR integration at a senior living facility when he started to get “Access Denied” on all of their wireless locks for all cardholders. Although it was after normal business hours, the integrator was able to get Jose Charco, Support Technician at Open Options on the phone immediately. As a cornerstone of Open Options’ Connect Care program, Tech Support kicked into gear.

Jose gathered the logs and version information on all the software. When the DSR was upgraded from version 7 to version 8, the issue surfaced. The hunt for the cause was on. From the start, it was clear to Jose that the issue had to be something deeper than just a setting. He also realized that the involvement of the ASSA ABLOY support team and Open Options’ Development team was also needed to get to a resolution. Tech Support provided the leadership needed to gather the team resources available to address the issue.

With the backing of his colleagues, the Open Options technician checked that everything had been upgraded correctly, but he went a step further. Relying on his extensive experience in the security industry, he conducted a deep analysis of the logs. He discovered that the firmware version on the locks was the cause of the issue. This was the hidden detail that had been alluding others up to this point. 

“Once our Tech Support team member (Jose) uncovered the issue, it was just a matter of getting the firmware update pushed to all the locks,” said Nicholas Robran, Vice President of Customer Support at Open Options. “After the firmware had been updated, the issue was resolved. The integrator confirmed that everything was running fine. Everyone had access again, and the end-user customer was happy.”

To go from “Access Denied” to “All Systems Go” in as short a time as possible is a testament to the commitment and expertise of Open Options’ Tech Support to dive deeper into an issue for the fastest, most effective resolution. A seemingly “small detail” of a firmware update made a big difference. No detail is too small for Open Options when Tech Support is on the hunt.

Professional Services in the Thick of a Conversion to DNA Fusion

If you have ever wondered when is a good time to call the Professional Services team at Open Options, consider the scenario one customer had: Conversion from a Vanderbilt Control System to DNA Fusion. Change out controllers to talk to the existing system’s sub-controllers. No experience with Vanderbilt hardware or Mercury hardware. Only scattered reports to work from, rather than a full copy of the database. Deadline to complete the conversion was in one week. It was time to call Open Options Professional Services for onsite help.

“We needed to convert the existing system database into a DNA Fusion database, but all we had to work from were scattered reports from the old access control software,” said John Hubbard, National Sales Engineer, Open Options. “Our Professional Services team was able to take the information from the reports and build a workable DNA Fusion database that we were able to use to make converting the hardware much faster and easier.” 

Once the database was done, the Professional Services representative had to go to the customer’s site and help convert the hardware over to use in DNA Fusion. He worked with the dealer onsite through changing the controllers and bringing them online in DNA Fusion. Together, the dealer and the Open Options Professional Services specialist converted the hardware for several buildings.

After getting all the doors online and working in DNA Fusion within the week, Open Options still had to work with the dealer and the end-user over the next few weeks to tweak all the lockdowns, access levels, buttons to open doors, and any other tweaks to the software the organization required so they could get back to business as usual.

“Because of our onsite support, the customer was able to overcome several hardware-related issues in much less time that if they had to work with someone over the phone,” added Hubbard. “The dealer let me know that if Open Options had not been there during the cutover, they would not have met the deadline to get the hardware and software online and working within the one week timeframe they had. At the end of the day, Professional Services was there in the thick of things.”

Access Control in the COVID-19 Age: Changes You Weren’t Expecting. Here’s How to Navigate

By Chuck O’Leary, President of Open Options

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the security industry has changed dramatically in just a few short months. Integrators and security directors are faced with new challenges since the coronavirus has hit which requires them to think beyond just physical access security. They are beginning to break new ground by incorporating medical safety technologies into existing security systems. 

Protecting people’s physical safety and health is the highest priority going forward. How do we reopen businesses while helping to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus? What is the “new normal” and how do we implement it into everyday best practices?

The purpose of this article is to provide guidance in navigating through new expectations and to provide thoughtful insights and helpful advice on how to deal with the changes that are shaping a new normal for access control.

As the world prepares to normalize again, and companies of all sizes and all industries are able to reopen their doors to the public, organizations need to be ready for a shift in what will be expected as acceptable when it comes to safety and security. Health and hygiene, as you would expect in the age of COVID-19, are of prime importance.

How can you best prepare? How do we continue to secure the physical safety of people while incorporating new medical safety requirements, and still maintain strong cybersecurity rules?

1. Learning from Each Other

2. New Collaboration of Technologies & Requirements

3. Setting the Right Expectations

4. Frictionless is in Question

5. Changing Perceptions of the Door Reader

6. The Mask of Cybersecurity

7. The Role of an Open Platform

Rethinking access control is not a luxury in the age of COVID-19. It’s a necessity. Open Options is here to help bridge the gaps and bring all the pieces together. We believe the access control industry can come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.

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Training Was Never Like This

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and our customers look for ways to reopen their facilities safely Open Options training sessions have looked at a variety of new challenges and solutions. The ongoing training events, both online and in-person, have seen questions shift from normal installation and operating questions to the integration of medical devices, sanitization of facilities and mask requirement solutions. The Open Options training team shares snapshots of real-world, “new normal” scenarios and practical advice that have come out of these training sessions in this article.  

A recent Regional Essentials training class held by Open Options in Seattle (with appropriate social distancing and health protocols) highlighted a variety of options to meet the various needs of the customer. In one example, personnel are not allowed to enter an area of the building until the sanitization crew has thoroughly cleaned and sanitized that area. The class came up with the option to disable the general personnel time schedules until the sanitization lead had presented their badge at a specific reader. This would activate the time schedules associated with the organization’s other employees and permitted them to enter the area. The resolution required some additional programming in the DNA Fusion system but provided the customer with the peace of mind that their employees were accessing clean, sanitized areas.

One customer needed to suspend all personnel access to their facilities, except for critical staff. The solution came in the form of configuring the Override feature on doors and flagging the staff‘s card that required access to the buildings. Once the doors were placed in the Locked mode, only personnel with designated cards could obtain access to the facilities. This solution saved the customer numerous hours of cardholder configuration to limit access to the numerous buildings on campus.

The Open Options class also discussed the new integrated options from Splan (cloud-based visitor management software) to Wavelynx (card and reader solutions), as the Open Options training team looked for various options to accommodate the touchless access that so many customers are requesting.

“We implemented a number of these scenarios in class so that the students could plan out the solutions and configure their demo system to accomplish the task,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services for Open Options. “The class enjoyed looking at the many options they could utilize to satisfy their customers’ needs.”

In another example, the customer needed to verify that all employees, contractors, and visitors had a mask on before entering the facility. They had posted a security employee at the entrance to temporarily unlock the door if the person was in compliance with the mandate. The challenge was determining the individuals that had access to the site from the visitors who did not have open access to the building. After some discussion, the resolution came in the form of a simple red and green LED that would notify the security staff of the person’s access. Once the cardholder presented their badge, the LED would turn green to signify the valid access request. If the LED turned red, the door was not released until confirmation of their visit had been established. This required some additional wiring however it was a quick solution for a real world issue.

Each of these unique scenarios demanded a different solution to accommodate the customers’ requirements during this critical time. One student remarked, “The Open Options platform is so robust I can meet my customer’s needs through the application.” The Open Options training team is committed to formatting the training classes to meet the audience's needs, even if that means stretching the class syllabus to accommodate all the topics.

If you would like to schedule a training session that focuses on your needs, please contact the Open Options training team.

Open Options’ Tech Support Team is Always Ready to “Engage”

A customer wanted to use one of Open Options newer integrations of the Engage IP doors but soon “hit a wall” when they were unable to add any additional gateways beyond 255. The fact that this is a common hard stop in technology didn’t make the customer feel better, as the project came to a complete halt. The customer picked up the phone and called Tech Support at Open Options. The flexibility and the streamlined response of Open Options made the difference.

After verifying the issue, Support Technician Jose Charco was able to get this issue over to the Development team, which created a fix that was quickly sent out to the dealer to implement on the customer site. The project was back in action. However, soon afterward, the installation hit another wall at 316 Engage gateways. The dealer called Open Options Tech Support again.

The Development team identified the new issue and again quickly released an updated driver to handle the higher gateway requirement. Yet, once the dealer had all the Engage gateways added, the dealer hit yet another issue: not being able to link all the doors in DNA Fusion. In response, the Tech Support team at Open Options took charge to solve the issue once and for all.

“Our Support team and Dev team were already concentrated on this site, so we quickly attacked the issue, as the whole team focused on getting them a resolution,” said Nicholas Robran, Vice President, Customer Support at Open Options. “This one took a bit longer to resolve, but it was eventually discovered that there was an issue with specific gateway models. Once Dev found that problem, we once again got out an additional updated driver to solve it.” 

Tech Support verified that they were able to add all the Engage gateways and link all the corresponding doors. The dealer was able to complete the project and get all the Engage Gateways online and the doors linked properly. The site was fully operational with the Engage IP Solution.

A key to the successful resolution for the customer was the excellent communication between the Support team and the Development team within Open Options – the same level of service that every customer receives from the maker of DNA Fusion. The final resolution in this case involved a few driver updates to handle the increased capacity on that feature. To ensure resolution, Tech Support followed up with the dealer multiple times after the last driver update was put in place. Once again, Open Options provided access that connects.