Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Advanced Access Control Market

When we planned a step forward by including control panels in our product line two years ago, a string of other considerations followed. This was unlike merely adding a new reader with improved features to our product line, even though on the surface business still runs as usual.

FingerTec Ingressus Controller
Control panels or controllers in an access control system are not like rain that drops onto a pond, stirs a ripple on its surface and settles thereafter. The controller as a major core component for the advanced access control system just wouldn’t align to fit into our existing business system, it’s like having a different stream of water that runs across the pond, a separate pathway is needed to contain the stream.

When controllers were introduced, it forked the access control system into two topologies; it has added a centralization option to previously distributed systems; and it provided an increase in professional concerns.

Centralized IP Access Control Topology
Access control system also have become increasingly complex since the introduction of TCP/IP communications, and a great deal of people in the industry who remember the good old days of the proprietary RS485 communication system are now somewhat frightened because the TCP/IP network needs of each security system element must be planned beforehand in conjunction with the needs of all the others, especially when often associated with business information technology systems. We are lucky because we are from the IT background, and always welcome and embrace the new era, yet we still have to address the following shortcomings.

Firstly, the features provided by the simple access control module in our TCMS V2 software were limited because our main concentration was in time attendance. Secondly, in the access control segment itself we needed to shift focus from securing individual doors to securing entire premises. Thirdly, it would be a new learning process for some of our resellers to market the advanced access control system.

Our R&D team spent two long good years to come out with our very own comprehensive access control software, Ingress to tackle the first obstacle.  For the second concern, we integrated video monitoring system via Milestones, developed cloud surveillance and apps on remote access as well as addressed the issues on alarm, sensor and etc.

Advanced Access Control System
And for the third hurdle, we just launch, a sub-portal that includes all key topics regarding physical access control as a resource center for our resellers and customers. We have a few hundred resellers in around 170 countries; quite many of them are still fresh and eager in the controller/access control business. To think about access control as a holistic security system, they have to upgrade their knowledge, and this portal helps in both marketing and supports.

We surely understand the importance of the continual research and development for Ingressus controllers and Ingress software; and more system integrations to turnstiles, visitor management, lift control, and patrol system; and content enrichment of our web portal. No problem. It’s in our pipeline, and we love new challenges.

We came in a little late, but given some time, we have the confidence that we can play catch-up and stand tall with the lot of the market leaders.

Selling standalone access control readers confine us to a small world but with controllers, the world is our playground and we could have the keys to unlock more doors and opportunities.

And is just one of them.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cloud Applications - Constantly Upgradings!

Business is strange, sometimes. We recently received an email from Business Software Alliance (BSA) demanding a complete list of all licensed software that the company uses.

We used to be a BSA member quite some years ago to protect our software copyright, but we cancelled the membership after the arrival of the Internet Age.  Honestly, I didn’t realize that the organization is still alive and kicking in enforcing licensed software for every company. Do I think that software copyright is no longer important? In fact, it’s the contrary. But because software has evolved since the Internet era, piracy raids seem so outdated.

Nowadays, we hardly see any software sold in a box. We simply download one from a website after completing its payment, or we are provided with a free trial version that lasts for a specified period. Software developers instead impose protection through other methods, like making any pirated software quit automatically once a user goes online with it. Smart, as who doesn’t go online these days? Most software users have applications installed in their tablets and mobile device. Is there any way to raid these users if they are using pirated ones? Never heard of it so far. And with the onset of the cloud platform for subscription-based software service, how do you take action against non-paying customers? Would it be easy to close their accounts? The huge changes in the form and norm of software ridicule the so-called anti-piracy enforcement. In fact, software developers should adapt to the change in business model or to redevelop its software to survive the future.  

I was stunned when I read this article “Silver linings – The IT Cloud” on The Economist July 20th 2013 issue, when a CEO of a new financial institution in Nigeria told his unimaginable banking story that his firm has maintained only one IT guy, the rest of its IT system processing is outsourced to cloud services.

The global research & consulting firm, Celent, estimates that by 2015, financial-services firms will spend a total of $26 billion for the cloud-based banking system, especially for newcomers with no historical burden of in-house data centers. Although it’s just a fraction of 13% for total IT expenditure in banks, the pressure to reduce cost will likely force the pace of change even for the bigger ones. According to the trend, banks in developed countries have started to outsource data processing that does not involve sensitive client information.   

When we first started developing cloud services, I always pondered upon the higher perspective of dissimilarities between Windows and cloud application, besides the commonly known differences like how the former needs to be installed in a local PC, whilst the latter is hosted in cloud server, and etc. It suddenly dawned on me that versioning is irrelevant in cloud system.

You can't skip versioning with Windows applications. A new version of a software is released with some new features, but after a few months, another ‘bug-fix’ version is released with minor updates – and the loop continues, again and again. For end-users, to receive a ‘bug-fix’ version, you have to patiently wait, bearing in mind you can almost guarantee that you’ll bump into new bugs in the new version and, thus, yet again wait for another round of upgrades.

This is why I like the cloud system process better. The update of new features and bug fixes for a cloud solution can happen almost instantaneously. In some cases, no official announcement even needs to be made as we upgrade our cloud applications. Be it TimeTec Cloud or EpiCamera Cloud Surveillance, we constantly strive to improve them day-by-day! This business practice is unthinkable in traditional Windows software, as developers can’t afford too many upgrades in a year. 

With cloud systems, besides outgrowing the ‘versioning’ concept, we can also adopt a lot more new ideas to extent its possibilities. Welcome to and!