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Professional Services Planning for 2021

Although 2020 was a rollercoaster of a year that most people with whom I spoke were glad to see the end, one of the positive things that came out of it was how it caused everyone to learn to be more like water – more fluid. It compelled everyone to stretch to a new level of adaptability to work and home life.  Bringing this enhanced adaptability into 2021 is advantageous for us all.

As I look ahead in 2021, I’m excited about Open Options’ plan for a cloud-based deployment model using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the infrastructure host.  We will begin onboarding the first customers later this month.  This shift to the cloud is expected to gain momentum quickly, as more people become aware of it and adopt it.  More details about the new offering will be available in the near future.

I believe that 2021 will be a catalyst for Open Options to evolve even more into a solution/service provider, expanding our technology landscape as well as the resources to manage it all.  The new year will bring new business, learning, and partnership opportunities that I believe are truly exciting. 


William Murphey Headshot

William Murphey
Professional Services & Engineering Manager, Open Options

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!

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. 

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.

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.”