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.

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.

Connecting to Customers in 2020 from Professional Services

With the end of one decade and the beginning of a new, the Open Options Professional Service team is truly motivated by the new opportunities that await us in 2020 and beyond.  Over the last decade, our team has built a solid reputation in aiding our customers in complex IT-related tasks, tapping into on-site services, remote support, redundancy services, custom reports and database services and more.

In 2020, we see this trend continuing with more emphasis on cybersecurity, networking and IoT.  To prepare the team, we have added additional support starting in January, as well as continued training and education on multiple technologies.

OO Professional Services team has always been an extension of our partners' organization. Our goal in 2020 is to reduce and minimize security challenges that will result in lower total cost of ownership for partners and end user organizations and continued support of internal and external customers on pre-sales, system evaluation, and solution demo opportunities.

We look forward to a fabulous year and welcome new partners in 2020!

How Tech Support will connect with Customers in 2020

With a successful 2019 under our belt, the Technical Support Department is pleased to begin the year by expanding the team and add another support line to assist our customers better!

Last year, we had an increase of calls, and while we did our best to ensure each customer received the highest level of support they needed, there was an occasional voicemail for a return call.

With a 100% retention in 2019 and our continued inhouse training with our integration partners, our team is in the position to manage the ever-changing technological issues while handling all calls to improve the overall customer experience.

Happy New Year from the Tech Support team! We look forward to working with you in 2020!