Achieving a New Standard in Access Control Profitability


Even if a building owner had enough foresight to install an access control system during new construction, it would have been very difficult to predict the future and current demand of access control systems. Not only will the security objectives of the facility evolve with mature expansion not too far behind, but a host of outside issues created by standards and regulations will also generate new demands. As a dealer or integrator, when you are called to expand an existing system or create an entirely new one, where should you start?

In today’s complex world of IT and access control, consolidation and new regulations are being instituted in almost every market. An understanding of the standards and required regulations is a good place to begin your design.

For instance, the customer’s IT department has created an entirely different access system for network or logical access. In this new world of physical access control and IT convergence, “open” becomes the operative word. Multivendor support is only achievable through the use of IT industry standards such as XML, TCP/IP, SNMP, LDAP and SMTP. The system must support commercial off-the-shelf operating systems such as Red Hat Linux and Microsoft™ Windows® in its many variations, and database platforms such as Microsoft™ SQL Server, MSDE, Informix, IBM DB2 Universal Server and Oracle Server.

User directories such as LDAP and MS Active Directory and report generators such as Crystal Reports and common administrative utilities for system backups and fault tolerance must also be supported. It must show that it can also seamlessly integrate with external applications such as time and attendance systems, and peripheral devices such as printers.

With such standards, enterprises are able to achieve real-time, bidirectional data exchange and actions between security systems and other infrastructure applications, including HR and ERP systems. Management of people’s access rights needs to be streamlined with policy-based management across physical and logical security. With one step, a customer should be able to set up or delete a complete set of access rights for any employee.

Selling the Customer

If selling into an already established system, don’t necessarily assume that the client wants to expand it. Ask them how satisfied they are with their current system. Maybe they’ve outgrown its capabilities or are interested in features their current system may not be able to provide.

If the client is open to alternatives, determine how much of the existing system can be reused. If the locking hardware and readers are in good shape, most likely they may be tied into a new access control panel and software. But, if there is an impending need to transition to smart cards, even the readers must go.

The various components frequently used in the typical security system today are disconnected and often from different manufacturers, complicating or making integration impossible. As a legacy of the past, they employ incompatible hardware or proprietary, unsynchronized databases, or completely inconsistent user interfaces that compete for space and attention.

These systems are inefficient and need too many people to manage them. IT personnel will no longer tolerate these systems.

That is because these systems increase employee and training costs, generate unnecessary equipment expense, create gaps causing security and safety breeches, and can produce downtime in mission-critical operations. Since IT budgets and management are responsible for many of these operations, they are beginning to dictate what will be used, particularly for physical access control systems.

What’s needed for both IT and physical security is a platform that provides a completely open architecture with published Application Programming Interfaces (API), plug-and-play compatibility, cross-platform support, adherence to industry standards, and the ability to seamlessly create a modular facility environment. With it, customers have a single, intuitive, integrated console that lets them protect and manage security for their entire business.

First of all, be sure the platform is tightly integrated with the security management system, offering advanced access control, video surveillance, alarm monitoring, intrusion detection, fire alarm, intercom, personal safety/duress systems, credential production, and employee and visitor management functionalities. Additionally, make sure it addresses and enhances system capabilities by integrating and supporting security systems from multiple manufacturers.

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