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.

Read more here

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.

View PDF:

  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.

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.”

Customer Tells Integrator: Figure it out; Open Options Sales to the Rescue

An integrator received an anxious phone call from an end-user customer who needed a “custom report” to be developed before an upcoming security audit. He required the custom report that would automatically deactivate cards not used after 45 days. The deadline to deliver this “custom” solution was extremely tight.

To make matters worse, the end-user customer had no budgetary funds available to pay for customer development. Nonetheless, the customer told the integrator to “figure it out”.

When our integrator realized the challenge he was up against, he made the call to the one source of consistent sales support for access control -- the Sales team at Open Options. The message was simply: Help! 

The response from Open Options was typically helpful and completely unanticipated. 

“Once our integrator reached out for help, it was explained that what the customer assumed would be a custom report with potential development fee, was actually an inherent feature already built into DNA Fusion,” said Scot Sturges, sales manager at Open Options. “We explained the feature to the integrator and the end-user then engaged Open Options Tech Support to assist with the installation.”

No custom development was needed. Indeed, the feature already conveniently existed in DNA Fusion. The customer got the functionality that they wanted within the timeframe needed. Open Options was ahead of the game, proactively anticipating what different customers may want for access control.

“The customer had this feature set up and running on the same day that the supposed ‘custom report’ request was made,” added Sturges. “This example goes to show that among the biggest assets that Open Options shares with partners and customers is communication.”

Failure to Launch Led Tech Support to Hit the “Shrink Command”

Administrators at a school in the southern region of the U.S. were stressing out over the failure of its access control system to launch. The dealer had attempted multiple times to restore the access control on campus but was not able to get the system up and running. Desperate, they needed expert technical help. They made the call to Open Options Tech Support.

“They explained they were not able to get DNA Fusion to launch and the site had been having issues for a long while,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options. “They got connected with our Tech Support supervisor Zack, who immediately took steps to get remoted into their system, so he could jump on the problem.”

The Open Options Tech Support expert diagnosed the issue rapidly: the DNA driver could not start because not only was the system hard drive full, but the DNA Fusion database was full as well. The first action he took was to address the large database size to free up room on the system drive. He noticed the transaction log was sitting at 188GB as SQL was set to full recovery and the limit was not set on the transaction log, which allowed it to balloon to that size.

He set the recovery mode to simple, limited the transaction log to prevent overgrowth, and then he executed the shrink command via SQL on the log files. This reduced it down to just 16MB, which gave much more free space on the system drive. He then got them set up for archiving, which also assists in keeping the database from getting too large.

“His actions and settings allowed the DNA driver to start, and they were able to launch DNA Fusion,” explained Robran. “Since those settings were not set correctly, that is why they had been having ongoing issues with DNA Fusion. Zack’s SQL expertise groomed their system to be more efficient and will prevent them from having further issues with database overgrowth.”

After he completed his configuration changes, he added more value for the customer at the school by creating a backup of their database. He increased the functionality and reliability of DNA Fusion as well as increased PC resources available to ensure, going forward, the system would not get bogged down.

Open Options Training Takes a Bite of the Big Apple

To kick off the new year, the Training department of Open Options was in a New York state of mind when they headed to the city that never sleeps to provide training on DNA Fusion for a customer who was considering Open Options’ market-leading access control solution to over 350 locations across the state of New York.

“They felt they would benefit tremendously by obtaining a deeper understanding of the system’s functionality,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services at Open Options.  “The site is an integration between Open Options and ISONAS. The system user was interested in learning more to assist them with developing a firm foundation that consisted of best practices combined with a solid understanding of the system.”

The system users applied the training to standardize the functionality of the system, using the best practices that were established in the class. After the training, the customer realized that they could accomplish numerous tasks within the DNA Fusion application to support their various facilities.

Feedback from participants in the training class was positive. “I learned a lot of useful things during this course,” said one user. “Most training classes are boring, but I really enjoyed this training from Open Options.”

This training class in New York was the culmination of multiple training sessions, starting with a WebEx session with five system users before the implementation of the system. They were so pleased with the system that they turned one of their facilities into a live test environment.  Subsequently, the test went extremely well, leading to the widespread rollout.  At every major stage, equipping the system users through training was a key to success.

Integrator Realizes Value of Professional Services for Access that Connects

An integrator had the challenge to convert the access control in a building with 12 doors and two elevators in a short window of time but did not have the experience with DNA Fusion that is needed to make the conversion successful. Instead of risking missteps, misunderstandings and delays, the integrator called Professional Services at Open Options to supplement and support their work.

The project was to convert an existing PremiSys system to DNA Fusion for an improvement in access control. The integrator had not set up the original access control system, so they were not familiar with how the doors and windows were hooked up. But Open Options Professional Services demonstrated its expertise in access control to recognize how the hardware from the old system was being utilized and how it needed to be replicated in DNA Fusion.

Before the Professional Services technician even went on site at the end-user location, he obtained a copy of the PremiSys database from the integrator and began converting as much of the database as possible. He was able to import the customer’s existing hardware. He was also able to get access levels and elevator information, along with cardholder information, converted to a DNA Fusion database. In brief, he was able to install the state-of-the-art Open Options software and attach the converted database for the customer to review.

Once on site, the Open Options technician worked with the integrator collaboratively to bring all the hardware and doors online in DNA Fusion, moving the end-user’s access control software away from their old system. “For the most part, the software cutover went smoothly. We were able to get all the doors online and create card formats that worked with the cards we had for testing. That is, until we got to the elevators, which were a challenge because the floors were not matching up with what we had programmed,’ said John Hubbard, a Professional Services representative at Open Options.

It was believed that the old system had the elevators programmed in a way that would allow the customer to see what floor was selected when a person used their card in the elevator. However, the team figured out that this feature was not being used. Triggers and macros were being used in the software to allow the customer to hit a button at the front desk in the lobby to allow a visitor to select a floor in the elevator without using a card. Once the team figured this out, they were able to resolve the issues and turn the system over to the customer.

“Because of the on-site professional services provided by Open Options, the integrator was able to get this job completed in less time for the end-user customer than if they tried to do this on their own,” said Hubbard. “The integrator sent us an email about how impressed he was with the on-site support and how fast we responded to the small issues that came up, acknowledging how we were there every step of the way for them with this project.” It’s the Open Options way.

Important Update- Time and Date Reporting on Leap Year

*Update* you can view our fix here on our knowledge base. You must be logged in to the webiste in order to open technical bulletin. Dont have a login? Register here.

ORIGINAL MESSAGE:

To All Open Options Partners,

The Mercury product notice presented to the market last week requires an update.

We continue to test the firmware recently supplied by Mercury in our Tech Support lab. In addition to doing so, we have written a Tech Bulletin walking you through to installation of the error-correcting version of Mercury firmware that will be available with the update.

Our testing will continue throughout the week with a targeted release date of January 27, 2020. This schedule provides you 6 weeks to download the issue resolving firmware to each of your clients using the devices listed in the excerpt of Mercury’s Tech bulletin below dated January 13, 2020.

Notice for Mercury OEM, Integrator and Consultant Customers

DATE AND TIME ASSOCIATED FUNCTIONALITY WILL BE SEVERELY IMPACTED ON ALL LP INTELLIGENT CONTROLLERS STARTING MARCH 1ST, 2020

This is an important notice for deployments of LP1501, LP1502, LP2500, LP4502 Intelligent Controllers.

ISSUE LP intelligent controllers will not properly handle leap year time calculations.  After February 29th, 2020, Leap Day, the intelligent controller will report time and date incorrectly.  This will have unknown effects on the functionality of the access control system.

EXCEPTIONS LP intelligent controllers that are deployed in “legacy” mode are not affected.  Additionally, EP series controllers, bridge products (M5, MS, and MI) and legacy controllers such as the SCP series are not impacted by this issue.  

Thank you for your attention to this matter and patience while we thoroughly test the firmware provided.

Best,

-Steven J Wagner

President

Open Options Kicks off 2020 with National Sales Meeting

Earlier this week, Open Options employees gathered for the company’s national sales meeting, an annual event where the team reviews the successes of the previous year, sets goals for the upcoming year and celebrates with well-deserved honors and accolades.

At this year’s meeting, our sales force met with each of the Open Options department managers, including operations and training, software development, marketing, and more. These breakout sessions were highly beneficial in discussing and building on the progress made in 2019 and implementing goals for 2020.

Numerous individuals were recognized for their accomplishments during the company-wide portion of the meeting. Members of the sales team who achieved sales milestones are listed below:

Scot Sturges

Charles Johnson

Dan Cosgrove

Stacy Molenda

Shannon Diddell

Additionally, there were four individual sales awards given during the meeting:

Highest growth in software maintenance – Stacy Molenda

Highest revenue growth –Shannon Diddell

Highest growth in software sales - Stacy Molenda

Highest growth in new site sales – Shannon Diddell

Salesperson of the year – Scot Sturges

We also celebrated two career milestones:

Lane Ford, 20 Years at Open Options

Chuck Mentz, 20 Years at Open Options

Lastly, several employees were acknowledged for their efforts and exemplary contributions to the company throughout 2019:

Nic Robran

Lauren Yonis

Kaygee Ofilas

Katie Leibow

Gary Bell

Open Options enjoyed a great 2019 with incredible growth, new team members, and several enhanced product offerings and partnerships. To read more about what we accomplished in 2019 and what we look forward to in 2020, click here.

We are looking forward to a productive and prosperous 2020!