Property Management Firm Reaps Cloud-Computing Security Rewards
“They had no backup…the legacy head end system was outdated and needed to be upgraded. It didn’t give the user any needed IT security, scalability or expandability. If the system malfunctioned, they were left to rebuild a nearly 200-reader system. It was the perfect time for them to move to the cloud.”
-Jay Slaughterbeck, Managing Partner, Strategic Security Solutions
Security Project Specifics
End User: Tri Properties Inc.
VAR: Strategic Security Solutions, Raleigh, NC
Challenge: Legacy access control system needed next revision, which required upgrades to the server and remote workstations.
Solution: Repurpose the door hardware and open-platform Mercury field panels and migrate the access control software to the cloud-based solution, Keep by FeenicsTM
Security Project Description
Property management and brokerage firms often represent a visible and discerning clientele that includes investors as well as high-profile leasing tenants. Excellence in service and quality environments where tenants can grow and prosper are a must.
Maximizing returns for investor clients is key, requiring attention to detail to properly service these customers. Owners and tenants alike expect the latest conveniences, including cutting edge technology in security and access control. Not only is controlling access to authorized parties important but being able to quickly put tenants online or offline with security solutions is paramount with the often fluid population. Tenants and owners want the convenience of getting real-time reports on access control activity or making on-the-fly scheduling changes. Security overall has become a critical part of the branding and value-add of these firms and often represents a key differentiator in services from their competitors.
The sheer nature of property management and tenancy requires flexible and scalable security management solutions (SMS). With some 15 buildings, and that number fluid and growing, Tri Properties, Inc., Durham, N.C., recognized the efficiencies of cloud computing and opted for the Keep by FeenicsTM hosted platform installed by systems integrator Strategic Security Solutions, Raleigh, N.C.
Tri Properties is a brokerage and property management firm that offers land development, construction management, and tenant representation. It serves a wide range of institutional, private and corporate clients, many of which are high profile, in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Cary across the state’s Research Triangle region. Late last year, Tri Properties called on Strategic Security Solutions to upgrade its legacy access control system that was literally operating on a PC under a desk in the office.
“They had no backup, no redundancy and some of the controllers were still operating on dial-up communications,” said Jay Slaughterbeck, Managing Partner, Strategic Security Solutions. “Readers were residing on a legacy Lenel OnGuard head end system that was outdated and needed to be upgraded. It didn’t give the user any needed IT security, scalability or expandability,” he said.
He added that if the system malfunctioned, they were “pretty much left to rebuilding a nearly 200-reader system. It was the perfect time for them to move to the cloud with the automatic redundancy,” Slaughterbeck said.
Greg Taylor, Tri Properties’ Director of Property Management said providing reliable and effective physical security access control to different tenants in multiple buildings isn’t easy, but it’s a necessity for the company to maintain its stature as one of the area’s top brokerage and management firms. It also helps in marketing efforts to attract new clients.
“Although we weren’t experiencing any security challenges or issues we wanted to offer the highest levels of security,” Taylor said. “In addition, with the web-hosting, we can access the system remotely, and that’s hugely important.”
Tri Properties deployed Keep as an off-site hosted solution and leverages the intuitive user interface (UI) to manage its buildings anywhere there’s an Internet connection. In addition to the efficiencies created by being able to control the system via the UI, Tri Properties has also been able to further reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO) by eliminating servers and appliances, another Keep plus.
Slaughterbeck said the conversion of the existing cardholder database and other work from start to finish took about two weeks, a short timeline for the large base of users, in excess of 3,200.
“The end user leaned heavily on us at first, especially for scheduling, with the project’s database migration in full swing during the Christmas holiday,” he said. Now the user is adeptly managing the system, including scheduling and permissions, with Strategic Security Solutions providing support when necessary. “They love the fact they can log in from anywhere to manage the access control scheduling and not worry about back up or software updates,” he said.
Slaughterbeck said Keep’s non-proprietary hardware integration approach allowed them to use all the existing readers and power supplies and some Lenel hardware from the former solution. “The older panels didn’t support IP Client configuration enabling a call out to the server so they required replacement,” he said. Brian Matthews, Director of Sales for Feenics, Ottawa, Can., said close collaboration between all stakeholders was key to successful implementation. “We worked closely with Strategic Security Solutions to convert the database and bring controllers online over sites spread across North Carolina in a very short time,” Matthews said.
“The ability to remotely access and manage the system is critical to Tri Properties,” he continued. “Because they are a third party management firm they might not retain management of a building and can take it offline quickly,” he added. Matthews said Keep’s modular design scales up linearly, so Tri Properties will be able to easily bring on additional buildings and tenants. “Keep allows you to amalgamate readers from any building and any network into a single database in the cloud. Then the utility benefit of the cloud kicks in, because you only pay for what you use. If Tri-Properties sells a building, their bill goes down, if they add three readers, they only have to pay for three more. Gone are the days of purchasing an expensive license for 256 readers and support to only use some 80 percent.”
Matthews said Feenics worked in partnership with Greg Taylor and his team to improve functionality in Keep, which benefited all of its customers. “Tri-Properties had a few requirements based around reporting tenant activity and a single tenant often resides in multiple properties. We took their requirements and built it into the standard released product. Customer needs are often the catalyst for product improvements and we will continue to collaborate with Tri-Properties along with other customers to continuously improve Keep to meet various and specific needs in the field.”
Greg Taylor also commented on the success of the implementation. “As old as our system was, the changeover was painless. We couldn’t have asked for any higher levels of support and service than what we received from Feenics and Strategic Security Solutions. We plan on expanding the system. Adding readers and new sites will be simple.”