A Smarter Way to Transition State Government from Proprietary to Open

State government officials discovered that having a proprietary access control system for their state government has limitations, inefficiencies and lingering drawbacks, surely holding them back. They saw that moving to an open approach for access control was the future. After an evaluation, this state government selected Open Options’ DNA Fusion as the access control platform of choice. 

Like most, this state government started off the new project with Open Options with a very large database, along with many doors on their system. The process of converting their numerous locations and doors over to DNA Fusion, along with tens of thousands of credentials, presented a challenge – but one that the Sales team at Open Options was ready for.

While hardware was being switched out, the state had to keep its existing database until the final switchover to DNA Fusion occurred. Enrolling new users into the legacy system continued to be mandatory during the transition project. At midnight each night, DNA Fusion would accept a database file dump of their entire database, which proved to be very timely and error-prone. 

This is where the Sales team kicked into high gear, bringing their Open Options colleagues in Professional Services and Software Development into the project to come up with a viable solution. 

“Our Engineering and Software Development teams were able to come up with a quick solution change in DNA Fusion,” said Shannon Diddell, Regional Sales Manager at Open Options.  “Instead of downloading the entire database nightly, the Open Options Software Development team was able to write a query that only looked for new entries from the legacy access system every 15 minutes. This allowed the system to accept very few, if any, errors, and it did not bog down the throughput of trying to download tens of thousands of credentials nightly.” 

The state government customer was pleased and able to get a clean database moving forward when the "all-go" switch was turned on with Open Options. 

Auto Unlock and Door Activity Reports Mysteriously Disappear Without a Trace

A customer ran into problems when they discovered that they could no longer set doors to auto unlock and their trace history on doors was not working. This was unacceptable, as the customer needed doors to follow a time schedule to lock and unlock, and they needed reports on doors to check activity and traffic. As a trusted partner, the Technical Support team at Open Options got the call.

Tech Support Supervisor Zack Davis tackled the auto unlock issue first. The option was missing in the hardware properties when the door properties were opened. He immediately knew that it was a permission issue on the current operator’s profile. He verified that the operator should have that capability and the user verified. He went into the operator profile and made the correct permission change to allow auto unlock.

He then looked into the trace history issue to find out why it was not functional. They were getting an invalid source error when running a trace history report. Zack had encountered this issue on multiple occasions in the past with other customers and knew to look at SQL. Upon checking SQL, he found they were running in compatibility mode for 2000, instead of 2008. He made the change in SQL to be compatibility mode 2008 to correct the error. He closed out of DNA, restarted the DNA driver, and then relaunched DNA Fusion.     

“After discovering and solving the permission limit on the operator’s profile, the end-user was able to successfully and easily apply the auto unlock schedule to doors again,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options. “For the trace history report on the door, Zack verified that they were functional after his changes in SQL, which allowed the user to utilize those reports to review door activity. The customer was extremely happy with those items being resolved.”

But Tech Support wasn’t done, known to go the extra mile to help a customer have access that connects the dots.  Zack finished the call with one final check on their system, as they had just completed a big upgrade jump in DNA Fusion versions from 6.5 to 7.7. He uncovered that they needed to upgrade their firmware on their controllers. He walked them through getting those upgraded to the latest firmware and verified once again that everything was functional on their site – much to the customer’s delight. The customer was now fully upgraded and had a fully functioning system. Mission accomplished.

Connecting Hundreds of New Doors to Access Control during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Commissioning 250 doors between two sites is not an easy task during normal times. Doing it during the COVID-19 pandemic with the widespread stay-at-home orders and restricted physical access to buildings adds another level of complexity. This is the challenge that a large school district in Louisiana had to tackle recently. Yet, despite the new “normal,” Open Options Professional Services provided the support that helped them be successful. 

Facilitating remote access was key to this project to add more than 100 doors each at two different sites to the access control system, bringing the total to 500 doors online. Just like the rest of the world, the system user was mostly working from home and had very limited hours to gain access to the two sites that are over 30 minutes apart from each other. 

“This project required extreme flexibility to accommodate the unique demands of the system user to move around while still providing remote access to the system to help the integrator with the access control install,” said William Murphey, Professional Services & Engineering Manager at Open Options. “Working remotely helped facilitate what was necessary to successfully bring online, program and test 250 new access control doors added to the system.”

The Professional Services team at Open Options remained flexible, indeed, in allowing the system user to move around freely, as needed, from home to office and then back to home. This demonstrated that access control end-user customers can still advance their access control projects forward, despite the pandemic-related shutdown. 

Open Options worked closely with the integrator and system user to remotely assist in configuring and programming the new devices and troubleshooting connectivity issues. 

The site inspection went smoothly. Professional Services made it look easy. 

As the Nation Starts to Reopen, Will You Be Ready to Ramp Up? Training Special Offer Extended to May 31st

Prepare Yourself to Ramp Up

Online training has kept Open Options connected with our customers and end-users during the COVID-19 pandemic, but attention is starting to turn to what is next on the horizon. iLearn is a training program that Open Options provides to help you accelerate ramping back up and getting ready to implement immediate changes in your access control system, as the U.S. economy is slowly opened up in the weeks and months ahead.

We don’t want you to miss out on the special offer on the iLearn WebEx sessions that have been driving system users and dealers to register for the short, informational sessions. And you can do it from the comfort of your home. These sessions typically follow an agenda that builds on the DNA Fusion system; however, every class is tailored to meet the student’s needs.

The Open Options Training Department is making a special offer available to you during these unprecedented times. We will tailor a 4-hour WebEx session (two 2-hour blocks) to meet your learning needs. To help our community of dealers and system users during this critical time, we’re offering the iLearn 4-hour block for only $500.00.

“We understand that our customers are still needing to learn about the features and functions of their DNA Fusion system during this pandemic and the iLearn sessions have proven invaluable,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services at Open Options. “These sessions have provided some insight into the various ways that DNA Fusion can be leveraged to make our system user’s job easier. In numerous sessions, attendees have learned new methods of utilizing DNA Fusion to save them time and effort.”

While we practice social distancing, the door is wide open for distance learning. This online training will help you get the most out of your DNA Fusion system going forward. To get started, contact the Open Options training team at training@ooaccess.com. The special offer is available through May 31, 2020.

Tips for Your iLearn WebEx Session

Ready. Set. Open… The following are tips on how to get the most out of your iLearn WebEx Session:

  • Review the agenda in detail
  • Create a list of questions (we all forget…)
  • Locate a distraction-free space
  • Gather together with your coworkers (great minds!)
  • Have DNA Fusion running on a separate computer (it is nice to see it in your world)
  • Ask questions (remember the list?)
  • Enjoy the class!

Share Your Story

How has life been for you since the coronavirus outbreak? How are you adapting to the changes in work life due to the pandemic?  You are part of our community, and it’s vital that we all stay connected, even while this crisis persists. We want to hear from you.

Share with us how the recent events around the coronavirus pandemic have impacted your job and the way you’re working. Email us your story at training@ooaccess.com.

Everything Shuts Down: Time to Call Open Options Tech Support

The site was taken offline each time the DNA driver crashed, which was every time a download command was issued. If an attempt was made to restart it, the driver would immediately stop. The only option was to contact Tech Support at Open Options.

After initial troubleshooting by Tech Support did not resolve the issue, the Open Options technician, Jose Charco, asked the customer to send in the database, which was loaded up in Open Options’ state-of-the-art issue resolution environment. Jose worked with Lane Ford, a senior technician on the Tech Support team, to identify the issue.

The Tech Support team uncovered that the customer had an invalid time schedule parameter in their database. It was the cause of crashing the driver when it attempted to initiate the download. The next step was clearly to resolve it, relying on the ingenuity of Tech Support.

“Our subject matter expert, Lane, was quickly able to assist Jose with locating the issue in the customer’s database and provide custom SQL scripts to correct the issue on site,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options. “Once Jose was able to get back into the customer system, he executed those scripts against their database. They ran successfully and changed the rows with errors. He then started the DNA driver successfully, executed a download to all controllers, verified the DNA driver was stable, and verified the download completed successfully.”

As a result, the customer site was back online and 100% operational with the restored capability of being able to push downloads and new information out to all the controllers. The shutdown was finally over.

This is an example of the type of commitment to excellence that Open Options’ Tech Support team has. It represents the core values of the company’s Connect Care mantra. When you need to get back up and running, the Tech Support team are ready to jump into action to assist you.

COVID-19 Pandemic Stay-at-home Orders Don’t Stop Professional Services from Creating Graphics Maps

Denver Public Schools needed graphics maps to show the status of the door, alarm points and cameras for every school campus in their district – a particularly useful illustration at a time when staff is working remotely. Because of the complexity and high number of buildings, the school district brought in Open Options’ Professional Services for assistance.

In order for this project to be successful, the Professional Services team had to create a duplicate DNA Fusion server remotely with the same server name, same file structure and same SQL database. The team was able to do it by creating a virtual computer in their test bed. The pre-work included test maps for the customer to evaluate and determine what the finished product would look like. The Open Options team exceeded the customer’s expectations, and the project was off to a strong start.

Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19)-related stay-at-home orders in March, the Professional Services team members were able to develop the graphics maps from their home offices. The ability to work remotely gives Open Options customers an advantage to get things done, even during these challenging times due to the global pandemic.

“Denver Public Schools selected Open Options to create graphics maps in order to provide their operators with an intuitive and efficient interface for managing such a large and complex environment ,” said John Hubbard, National Sales Engineer on Open Options’ Professional Services team.

The map project involves creating two maps for each school. One map for the administrative side with all doors, alarm points and cameras, and one map for the schools that shows everything but the cameras. By doing these maps in a certain order, Open Options is able to create both maps at the same time, allowing for this project to be completed in less time than if the customer had tried to complete it on their own. This is access that connects.

The Open Options Professional Services team is here for our customers, working remotely, yet still getting things done.

Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Need for Tighter Visitor Management

Because of the coronavirus pandemic threatening to spread among their patient population, a healthcare institution realized that they urgently needed to monitor and limit visitors. To make it easier for them, the Open Options sales team worked with the integrator to provide consultative advice and help this customer rapidly assess a wide variety of visitor management solutions.

Limiting visitors, who could potentially be carrying the novel coronavirus without knowing it, is key to preserving the health and safety of patients. The visitor management technology needs to support and align with a new visitor policy that the healthcare organization is required to institute, limiting one visitor per patient per day. This is intended to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the highly contagious coronavirus that has been sweeping across the world.

The customer expressed the need for a convenient way to monitor compliance with this new policy and to expeditiously pull reports based on it. Open Options was able to provide insight about the security aspects and desired outcomes of visitor management. In the face of unprecedented challenges because of the global pandemic, the trust that the customer and the integrator have with Open Options deepened.

“We worked with the healthcare customer’s integrator to propose all of the visitor management solutions that DNA Fusion works with, along with a few that we currently don't,” said Scot Sturges, Sales Manager at Open Options. “We want the customer to see the comprehensive spectrum of choices, so they can make the best decision possible to meet their immediate needs in this challenging time, as well as establishing a strong foundation for future expansion.”

Working from Home? Remote Training Offer for You: iLearn WebEx Sessions Available at a Discount

Special Offer Bulletin

As stay-at-home orders and social distancing practices have become predominant across the United States and around the world in recent weeks, the Training team wants you to know that your learning can continue remotely, helping you make the most of your time. You can still grow your knowledge of DNA Fusion, so when the restrictions and stay-at-home orders are lifted in the future, you will be better prepared than ever.

To help you in this pursuit, the Open Options Training Department is making a special offer available to you during these unprecedented times. We will tailor a 4-hour WebEx session (2- 2-hour blocks) to meet your learning needs. To help our community of dealers and system users during this critical time, we’re offering the iLearn 4-hour block for only $500.00.

This online training will help you get the most out of your DNA Fusion system.

We’re here to help in any way that we can. We may have to practice social distancing, but it leaves the door open for distance learning. There is no better time to connect!

To get started, contact the Open Opions training team at training@ooaccess.com. We’re planning to make this offer available through May 31, 2020.

Share Your Story

How has life been for you since the coronavirus outbreak? How are you adapting to the changes in work life due to the pandemic? You are part of our community, and it’s vital that we all stay connected, even while this crisis persists. We want to hear from you.

Share with us how the recent events around the coronavirus pandemic have impacted your job and the way you’re working. Email us your story at training@ooaccess.com.

“For over 20 years, the mission of Open Option’s Training department has been to empower our customers with education. The past few weeks have shown us that, even in times of uncertainty, our organizations and communities remain strong and resourceful,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services at Open Options. “With many businesses and organizations rolling out mandatory remote work policies, it has made us pause to reprioritize training efforts and develop new plans to connect with our customers.”

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.