COVID-related Changes Lead to Need for More Training

Because of COVID-related changes that shifted responsibilities, an end-user customer became increasingly responsible for being more hands-on with managing his organization’s access control solution: DNA Fusion. He knew the basics but, if he was going to be successful, he knew he needed a better understanding of the correlation between hardware and software. He immediately signed up for an in-person training class at Open Options to learn what he needed to know.

To his delight, Open Options customized the training for him. “Our direct support customer came to class with a list of questions and issues that his company was having and left with solutions and resources to use in the future,” said Brittany Tate, Technical Trainer at Open Options. “Instead of making the class cookie-cutter, we adjusted the course to link his list of questions with the topics we were discussing.”

He first attended a one-day wiring class and then the traditional three-day “Essentials” training.  An example of the type of questions the customer brought to class is: "My door always gives me false alarms when we have to replace the door contact. Honestly, I don’t really know what that is or how it’s used in the software.”

In the class, Brittany wired up a door with the customer, explained where the door contact is added in the DNA Fusion software, and demonstrated how to momentarily disarm any door forced/door held alarms until the door is fixed. This hands-on approach helped solidify the concepts for the participant.

The customer stated, “I really feel like we’re building from the ground up,”. The training broke down everything into repeatable tasks of good habits as well as troubleshooting techniques. The sessions covered common scenarios that occur in the field, including situations with dipswitch settings and various jumper settings.

“The customer left with a firm understanding of the big picture of both the software and the hardware,” explained Brittany. “He mentioned how having all of the resources and physical hardware at his workstation allowed him to make mistakes and troubleshoot in a controlled environment. Towards the end, he mentioned, “I’m excited to go back to my office and finally understand how everything is connected together.”

Through the Open Options training, the customer was equipped to anticipate and be able to fix problems before they even occur.

A Secret to Tech Support’s Success: Attention to Detail

A customer was having a significant issue with his access control system. It was crashing immediately every time he launched it, rendering DNA Fusion unusable. He was not able to create badges or edit personnel. The customer could not figure it out on his own. Therefore, he called Technical Support at Open Options, trusting their reputation for resolving complex issues.

Zack Davis, the Tech Support Supervisor, dug into the issue by checking the DNA Driver logs. He discovered that the logs were showing a massive amount of controller functions but did not point to any specific controller. The error logs were indicating the driver was getting overwhelmed with commands, which was causing it to crash. 

He implemented a SQL script that disabled all the controllers, allowing the driver to start back up and for DNA Fusion to launch without issues. Then he started to enable the controllers one by one.  While enabling the second controller, the error appeared, and he was able to isolate it. 

“A host-based macro had been programmed in DNA with a loop condition on a camera call up function,” explained Nic Robran, Vice President of Customer Support at Open Options.  “Zack verified this with a report and found 30,000 pages of that event being executed before the driver crashed. Once he found the problem, he removed the host-based macro that was causing the issue and enabled the remaining controllers.” 

Subsequently, DNA Fusion remained stable and all the controllers came back online without issue.  He verified that the system was 100% back online and operational. 

“The customer was extremely happy that their system was back online,” added Robran. “And they were able to once again create badges and edit personnel.”

Limited AC System causes school district to turn on the “Fusion,” while facing a major hurricane

A large school district with more than 120 campuses` was having difficulty using their Paxton access control system, which was set up with 4 separate servers to accommodate the size of the school district. Over time, as more users needed to be added to the system, it became laborious, as they would have to add each new personnel 4 times (or to each server). With limited functionality and tight budgets, the school security director called on the Open Options Professional services team to provide an enterprise solution that would rid them of the limited functionality. The answer was DNA Fusion.

“To start, we had to create a Powershell script for the system to assist with day-to-day management until they have completed the overall project,” stated Michael Digby, Professional Services & Sales Engineer for Open Options. “We initially were called to a meeting by the school to provide a plan to upgrade to DNA Fusion, but before we could meet, a tropical storm forced the district to close. At this point we had to work quickly before the storm hit.”

Meanwhile, back at the Open Options headquarters, the Professional Services team got to work quickly to set up a mock database that would re-creating some of their Active Directory structure to ensure the script could handle the number of access levels/security groups the District had. Along with the script there was also an issue with the naming convention of the access levels versus the security groups, so a bit of programming had to be done to create a table to match them correctly.

With ETA hurricane lurking on the horizon, it didn’t stop the team from laying out a plan for the district to use while they move to DNA Fusion completely. To do this, the team had to be given access to the network, VPN and server. Once the access was granted, the team began testing PSAD Script, which then alerted the team to an issue. After much investigation, it was discovered that the server was only configured with 4 GB of RAM and, to complete a scan of the 128 ODX packages, it took almost an hour!

At this point the Open Options team notified the customer that this delay meant the AD portion of ODX was not real-time, and the team suggested bumping the RAM up. Due to a delay of packages being scanned, the team used the remainder of the day to start going over items sent earlier.

The Challenge: Knowing that the District was having to remove access levels manually from personnel records, which was taking many hours to do, and with a hurricane approaching, the team had very limited time to create a solution. With no time to waste, the team set up quickly an in-house solution that they were able to develop and test. They created a plan to utilize Powershell to scan Active Directory Security Groups. This script handles adding and removing access levels based off Active Directory accounts being added or removed to Security Groups. The other task while on-site was to address a list of topics to help in the interim, and it helped explain why/how to use different features within DNA Fusion.

The team arrived on-site and started working on testing the PS AD Script. Due to the delay with OpenDX and even with the RAM being increased to 8 GB, all the existing scripts were disabled.

“This allowed for faster testing of the new scripts being implemented said Digby. I modified the Powershell script to pull info from nested AD Security Groups and setup Task Scheduler to run batch file every hour. I tested several access levels and removals before enabling scanning of all AD Security groups and emailed the customer to move the test user into several new AD Security groups to confirm functionality. Soon after Hurricane Eta hit, the district closed down the schools. In the end, we managed to configure and build an interim solution before the storm hit.”

Once again, the Professional Services Team at Open Option proves there are no limits in aiding customers!

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

Quick Turnaround with Open Options Professional Services

An integrator asked the Professional Services team at Open Options to assist on a project with a quick turnaround time.

The project was to commission and program four PIM400-1500s and 24 AD400 wireless locks within DNA Fusion. Accustomed to accelerating service delivery, Professional Services was able to do the essential tasks in rapid succession.

Day One consisted of bringing the 4 PIM’s online and documenting their IP, MAC Address, location, and login information for the end-user.

Day Two was spent troubleshooting the doors that either was not linking to the PIM or wanting to communicate with DNA Fusion.

In summary the professional services team:
  • Professional Services personnel uncovered that the end-user was using an existing version of DNA Fusion that needed configuration changes and updating. This was necessary in order for the server to be accessed from the site where the new devices were being installed.
  • They had to change the IP address of the server as well as the existing PIM.  Once the version of DNA Fusion was updated, a whole suite of new features was provided to the end-user.
  • They equipped the end-user with practical information about the upgrade and answered questions to help the end-user be able to fully understand what had been resolved and what had been unlocked in the capabilities of DNA Fusion, adding value.

During the training, the new features were demonstrated, including the Info Ready reports.

“There were other items that were shown just in case it wasn't used like the drag and drop ability to filter the Event grid to a controller, a door and even a specific person,” said Michael Digby, Professional Services representative at Open Options.

“We informed the end-user that OpenDX would be a good item to investigate as it would assist with adding as much information into DNA Fusion automatically without having to enter it manually, along with the knowledge of cards being disabled when their Active Directory account is disabled,” added Digby. “Once the training was wrapped up, the final doors were tested and operating as expected. A quick check of all the doors was done, and a write-up was provided to the end-user.”

Michael Digby, Professional Services Representative at Open Options.

Case closed. This quick turnaround built trust with both the end-user and the integrator. 

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.

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.”