New Protege GX From Security Merchants
by Security Electronics and Networks | @Articles Product Reviews | August 16, 2011, 7:00am AEST
PROTEGE GX, the brainchild of Hayden Burr is new management software that supports the highly successful Kiwi-made Protege lineup of access control, alarm and automation products. The new software represents a leap forward over the older software, which is still available for those who prefer its fixed structure.
In comparison, Protoge GX is almost an SDK for access control and automation people. The system is designed to become what the site needs it to be, the idea here being that the system meets the needs of clients, rather than imposing the needs of the product. What this means is that you’re not stuck with a predetermined layout – you can customise the management system to suit your application.
According to Security Merchants’ Chris Haslem, in the past access control and automation systems had a structure that allowed a certain number of keypads, zones, inputs and you had to chose a panel to suit your application. If your needs grew the panel had to be upgraded.
“Protege GX is essentially a matrix that has no limitations,” he explains. “When you set GX up and enrol the panel it asks how many doors you want, how many alarm inputs you want, how many keypads – it actually shapes itself to the system you’re installing, it doesn’t require the installation to fit its limitations.
“You just apply the number of keypads you have, the number of alarms, the number of doors, the number of PGM (outputs), areas, travel zones, elevator cars, variables and the GX matrix will build the software around your actual application.
“This system asks ‘what do you want to see as an end user, what do you want on your home page, what do you want on your splash pages’. It’s all totally there for you – there are no restrictions,” Haslem says.
“The system the client will see is based on what the client wants to see, the system that exists informs the setup and functionality of the GX software.
“It starts with a blank page and you go and set up columns – you might want 4 columns across, one down, whether you want web pages in the site – intranets or external web sites – these would show standard operating procedures that tell an operator what to do in even of an alarm, you can have temperature alarms coming up, intrusion alarms, door open too long alarms – whatever alarm inputs apply.”
As part of the demo, we run through setup – the software tells us we have a panel, gives serial number and registration, gives the IP address of the panel, IP port, and upload and download server port numbers, and we can set time and date, do a download do a module update, get a health status of the system – voltage of battery and event server diagnostics. It’s all very easy.
Haslem explains it’s also possible to view panels as groups.
“We could have NSW as a group or Queensland. We could also have them as multisite if you want to restrict access and not have all panels under the one folder – allowing access to separate operators in separate states.”
Important to a flexible management system like this one is the ability to upload floorplans, including 3D floorplans shortly, thanks to the 3D Editor being built into the full release of GX. The system we are driving here is the beta release so that 3D feature is not included yet but they are coming, Haslem says.
“The integration includes video surveillance so we can bring DVRs or cameras into the system, we can have web pages on the plans. We have full editors, mustering reports, time and attendance reports that can be set up for the client on the main status page.
“GX is perfect for multi-sites, too. Over in Canada we have a solution with 900 sites running into this platform, in NZ there are 400 sites running on GX and these have been going on for a period of time before release.”
Importantly, there would be thousands of Protege installations in Australia and New Zealand. That means there are plenty of legacy installations that could benefit from using the GX software.
“Choosing to upgrade depends on the customer,” Haslem explains. “Customers don’t have to upgrade if it’s a standard site and they are just issuing cards. In that case they might stay where they are but if they wanted more performance and flexibility it’s a matter of a firmware upgrade in the panel.
“All that would be needed would be to flash the panel onsite – it’s a five minute job on site and then a migration with the software to take the database out of the old software and drag it into GX – that part you can do remotely from the office. You’d go over a corporate network or over the Internet using a static IP address.”
According to Haslem, a lot of what Security Merchants does with Protege is outside the square.
“There’s automation for one. Our competitors have a focus on access control which Protege can also handle but this solution very powerful on the automation side, too.
“It has BACnet and Modbus built in at the panel level to it talks IP right out of the panel – our competitors require a third party server sitting there while Protege does this at a high level standard.
“We have picked up big contracts locally incorporating lighting control and air conditioning control as well as access control on the strength of this automation capability.
“We have picked up a big automation project in Asia that is totally automation – running a manufacturing plant. It’s a seven-figure job – so there’s access control and automation as well.
“Protege also has the benefit of economy – 20 to 50 per cent better than some of our competitors. Protege does in and out for 2 doors on a 2–door controller so you are cutting down the amount of hardware and meaning customers can use the extra dollars to put readers on both sides of a door and increase their inherent security.
“What I mean by this is that if you want ten doors in and out on a competitor’s system they need ten door controllers, with Protege if you want ten doors in and out, you need only five controllers. That cuts our price down dramatically.”
What’s interesting about Protege is how much you get for your money. Consider that the SE panel has a 2-door controller built-in, a network interface built in, a larger microprocessor already inside the panel.
Haslem says that this means you are not buying add-on serial or UART boards to get onto the network, nor are you replacing GAL (generic array logic) chips if you want to go from 32k to 512k – there are none to change – the capability is simply there.
There’s something else that’s interesting with Protege – the administrator controls the system, not the installer’s code.
“Some installers don’t like this but it serves the customer – that’s what Protege is about – the focus is on the end user,” Haslem explains. “As long as the end user has their master code they can go in and delete an existing installer and add a new installer.
“It seems to be the industry standard to hold clients to ransom and Protege doesn’t allow that. Our focus is the end user and their application.”
It’s a focus that now applies to Protege’s new GX software, a solution defined entirely by end user needs.