Generation Next

Fault-tolerant servers move toward access control

Building security has moved beyond locks and dependable security guards. Today’s threats require sophisticated security. The next generation of access control will converge physical and network security into one manageable entity. High-tech access control systems—card readers, intelligent video surveillance, electronic locking devices and the computers that control them—are now standard for building security and have a unique anatomy that brings a new level of complexity to the system.

Computer hardware is the nerve center or backbone of this new generation of access control systems. Each component works as part of a unified sub-network to verify credential data, record events and trigger notifications. Because the safety and security of people and property are on the line, the continuous and consistent operation of this network is crucial.

Always On
Seamless network communication, in terms of average downtime, can make the difference between unauthorized entry and a secured environment— and perhaps the difference between life and death. With such business forces as globalization and 24/7 operations coming into play, there is a need for an “always-on” computing infrastructure that does not allow for downtime in business-critical and mission-critical applications.

Fault-tolerant servers enable the success of the entire security system. They are the brains behind the operation. FT servers are built from the ground up to perform with AL4, or 99.999- percent availability. To ensure that high performance is built into the computer, hardware does not have to be installed, configured or maintained using software.

Come Together
Converged door-to-desktop initiatives offer a simplified IT structure, where FT servers can support the entire system, ensuring successful computing transactions with card readers, monitoring devices, alarms, locks and many other devices of the access control system. FT servers also can support the more complex systems and software necessary to provide better ongoing security, as well as after-thefact detection and assessment of suspicious or malicious activity. This saves companies money via a streamlined operational process, limited downtime and reduced IT administration costs, resulting in a lower total cost of ownership throughout the life of the computer. The purchase of an FT server is easy to justify for any organization that takes access control seriously.

High availability is imperative to the basic effectiveness of an access control system, which requires real-time integration and depends on constant communication with the central computing system to function properly. High-availability systems are defined as having 99 percent or more uptime. When integrated with other business processes, a high-availability access control system facilitates seamless communication across all divisions of a company, thus minimizing asset risk and enhancing the safety of personnel.

A Safe Bet
Through full system redundancy, FT servers achieve continuous availability and deliver unprecedented system integrity, transparent failover and a low total cost of ownership. FT servers include lock-step technology, which uses multiple system components that process the same instructions at the same time. In the event of a component malfunction, the redundant component provides an active spare that continues normal operation and averts system downtime. The system also eliminates transient hardware errors that can cause software failures if left unchecked.

An FT server is clearly the must-have hardware for an effective access control system. Organizations can ill afford to gamble with the security of their property and the safety of their people—and now they don’t have to.

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