In the timeframe of 2016 to 2020, over 50% of all card access manufacturers will have decided to abandon “old-fashioned legacy technology” in lieu of a new IP technology, supported by a multitude of newer operating systems and A browser-based interface.

This will put many users in a state of hostage negotiation for software support and replacement parts. To stay with existing systems would require the use of third party software development companies and obtaining new providers with remanufactured products. This may do for a couple of years, but we expect the maintenance costs for up to five (5) years to be quite considerable with the software being frustrating to maintain what could be 20 year old operating system platforms. At $50,000 - $150,000 for system software costs per year for a large enterprise system, the five year projections run steep.

Our recommendations are clear. An analysis of the existing infrastructure, equipment, and compatible field devices and sensors that can be incorporated into the newly proposed integrated scenario will justify its expense and offset any operational costs not established within existing security management structure.

Six (6) questions have to be asked to access the current access control “portability” to a newer integrated system that is compatible with more current technologies. Specifically, we want an enterprise level system that can support either a reasonable sized school or corporation, or a large enterprise that can support multiple corporation entities or a large government agency.

The evaluation and assessment of the existing hardware can be addressed with the following six (6) critical configuration questions. As physical questions, these develop the matrix of software requirements that would directly impose limitations on the migration plan for an existing system.

These critical elements include making a detailed engineering assessment of the following access system controller details:

"The Existing Form Factor"

Pin for Pin Replacement

Panel Replacement

What’s the Same

  • Wiring?
  • Architecture?
  • Pin for pin?
  • Card records?
  • Alarm records?


  • Card records – self-recognized?
  • Alarm records – self-recognized?


  • Open platform?

After answering these questions for each and every controller, card reader, door interface, or remote field panel, an analysis and recommendation would be made whether there are simple bios upgrades to existing controllers, applicable network upgrades to controllers, or “rip and replace” must be the mantra for access control upgrade.

Without doing the numbers, just listening to vendors’ guidance can be fraught with unknowns to justify what is a considerable cost, along with missing opportunities to increase security and functionality.

Jerry ‘Dutch’ Forstater, PE, PSP, is CEO of PSE, a planning, design and project management firm with over 30+ years in security and communications and controlled environments. He brings continuity and world-class engineering to the data-rich security operations environment to improve operator dynamics, situational awareness, process control and mission effectiveness. ‘Dutch’ can be reached by phone (800) 839-5060 x107 or by email @

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