Genetec Access Control - What Happened to the SMC?
While most view Genetec as a VMS company, they have offered an electronic access control platform, named Synergis for years. However, with slow development relative to Omnicast and Security Center, how committed are they to access? This is perhaps best illustrated by the status of their Synergis Master Controller, announced over a year ago, which promised to improve their access capabilities, but is still not in production.
No official data sheets exist for the Synergis Master Controller (SMC), but some features and capabilities were disclosed at trade shows and via Genetec's blog [link no longer available]:
- Genetec-designed flashable access control panel, IP connection to Synergis and serial connection to other modules.
- Support for HID VertX and Mercury panels standard, with other manufacturer's protocols released via firmware upgrade. Protocols other than access control panels may be released, such as PLC or alarm systems.
- Peer-to-peer communication supporting global anti-passback without need of the Synergis server, a feature currently lacking in supported HID options.
- Shipped with Genetec-designed enclosures including power supplies, fuses, and space for third-party modules.
No official release date is available for the SMC.
SMC vs. Existing Options
Mercury panel support is the most immediate key benefit to the SMC. With numerous OEMs, including giants such as Lenel and Honeywell, Mercury Security's access control panels are likely the most pervasive in the industry. Adding support for this protocol allows Genetec to more easily take over existing systems without completely replacing hardware, and integrators to use familiar Mercury product instead of the lesser-used HID Edge and VertX lines.
Additionally, many dealers simply prefer Mercury hardware to HID's line. Due to its long history (founded in 1992), likely the majority of access control techs have used Mercury hardware in their career. Due to less third-party support, the same cannot be said for HID.
Finally, adding Mercury support allows Genetec users to utilize Assa Abloy's Aperio line of wireless locks, since one model of Aperio hub uses Mercury protocol. Currently, those seeking wireless locks must use Schlage's Wiegand-based AD series, the only compatible open platform option.
The delay of the SMC has indeed given the impression of Genetec treating access control as low priority compared to video or even license plate recognition, both of which have had multiple new product releases in the same timeframe. Synergis, meanwhile, has essentially stagnated, with support added only for HID's second generation Edge/VertX platform, and incremental upgrades to cardholder management and other tasks.
However, the SMC is aiming to do something which has rarely been done in the access control industry by supporting competitive manufacturer's panels. Unlike video surveillance, access manufacturers (aside from OEMs such as Mercury, HID, Schlage, and few others) generally do not play together. If Genetec can consistently develop new integrations and flesh out this capability, it may be disruptive to incumbent vendors, many of whom rely on proprietary hardware to secure ongoing upgrades and maintenance, with little fear of takeover, a normally expensive capital cost.
Response from Genetec
Genetec had this to say about the delay of the SMC and its potential release schedule:
The Synergis Master Controller has yet to be officially announced and is not, as of today, a generally available product. That being said, we have had it on display at several of the major industry trade shows so that we can gain market insight about our new approach as we were developing the solution while also openly giving our broader customer base a glimpse into our roadmap.
Currently the Synergis Master Controller is in a limited availability phase with several key customers and end users both in the US and overseas. This program is our last step toward general availability and allows Genetec to work with a subset of our user base to ensure that the product meets their needs within these live security environments. As you can imagine, deploying an access control system is a sensitive undertaking for our users and anything less than a fully reliable system can impact customers’ operations so Genetec has committed to a rigorous release plan/process and stringent limited availability period. We are happy to communicate that we are about to expand the scope of the limited availability and enroll additional integrators and end users into the program. This expansion will see a number of new sites deployed with Synergis Master Controller and HID and Mercury hardware.
Once the limited availability period is completed we will make the product publically available. We expect the Synergis Master Controller to become generally available in the first quarter of 2013.