Inaxsys Security Systems
(disclaimer: we distribute what you describe as a "combination panel") -
I believe that the future (the present?) of the integrated systems market will be high-capacity integrated security systems such as the one you describe. Where the alarm, access control, fire monitoring and building automation will be fully integrated into a single harmonized ("unified") system. These systems exist today (they are quite common in many territories outside the US. The US lags far behind countries such as New zealand, Australia and Canada in unified security system offerings) and they eclipse the features of stand-alone systems (only access control or only alarm).
Some of these unified systems offer Enterprise-class access control (IP based controllers, support for massive amount of sites/doors/users (not only 16 but hundreds per controller), enterprise features (such as elevator control, LDAP support, building automation, multi-platform video integration, photo-ID, Mustering, time-and-attendance and more...) as well as large-scale traditional alarm (UL approved monitoring via Contact-ID/SIA or IP monitoring) AND also UL-approved fire reporting -- all of this on the same panel (and actual single Unified system and not a mish-mash of different hardware from different manufacturers that require a software to be online so that they can talk together).
These systems exist today and are starting to be more common on the marketplace. The US is a market where stand-alone access control (no alarm integration, no fire reporting integration) is still prevalent and where manufacturers of such stand-alone systems are the market leaders. Hopefully, that will change over time - we are working very hard to change the mentality that 3 separate systems (access, alarm, fire reporting) are necessary to give a customer proper electronic security protection.
You should definitely keep on the route of using unified platforms-- the added functionality you get from the single plaform is a powerful selling tool for end-users (arming/disarming wtih cards; preventing false alarms by refusing entry at a door because the alarm is armed an the user does not have diarm rights; automatically unlocking doors and permitting access based on alarm partition status; changing temperature/lighting conditions based on alarm area status; controlling elevator floor permissions based on floor alarm status; auto-arming alarm based on door conditions; transmitting door forced/held alarms to a central station without a separate alarm panel; supervising an evacuation panel without a separate monitoring panel/monitoring service; counting the number of users in an area and arming when the count reaches zero; etc...).
IPVMU Certified | 07/04/14 12:40am
I'll yield to Mark on the international scope (thanks for the feedback!), and speak for the US market specifically:
Indeed, combo panel based systems are targeted at the small system applications. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and pretty reliable.
However, the downside is that it's pretty easy to outgrow them, both in terms of potential size and desired features. If your customer wants to unlock doors with cards or on a schedule, they do great. If your customer wants to integrate video surveillance, add a few standalone wifi locks,integrate biometric readers, do 'time & attendance', and download custom reports - you might be asking too much.
Also, when it comes to physical security, there is a real impact to 'putting all your eggs in one basket'. Asking one panel/system to take care of intrusion alarms, access control, and maybe even fire is potentially leaving a big vulnerability should something break. A separate access system is often more costly, but it comes with an engineered focus to perform that task even when something breaks. Forgive the marketing terms, but 'redundancy' and 'robustness' isn't always the prime intention of combo panel access system design.
I work for a company that pretty much exclusively sells integrated panels as their main thing. They're nice, as they are cheaper, but the system is limited to 32 readers per panel, so if you go above 32 (and we have many customers who do) you start adding more control panels.
I suppose in the end it's not a huge deal, but to me it seems like a pain, especially if there is intrusion integrated, I've found we end up doing two control panels, one stricly for intrustion, and another for access so the intrusion doesn't get split between two or more panels.