Hirsch / Identive Gets Cost Competitive

By Brian Rhodes, Published Apr 21, 2013, 08:00pm EDT

One of the biggest legacy brands in high end access control was Hirsch, who merged [link no longer available] and was absorbed within Identive in the past few years. The company was best known for its 'Scramble' line of products [link no longer available], and enjoyed brand-name specification in government markets as a result. However, in recent years, competition has grown fierce. Is a new, less expensive offering a solution to this challenge? In this note, we examine the recently announced Mx Controller system [link no longer available] (no relation to Mobotix).

16 Doors and Under

The Mx Series is available in three basic configurations: a two, four and eight-door base model. Through the use of an eight-door expansion board, the total can be brought to 16.

While an individual unit is limited to a specific number of doors, larger deployments can 'daisy chain' multiple cans together and be managed from a single interface. The system is entirely panel-based, meaning there are no 'door controllers', and door hardware is homerunned back to the main panel. The subsequent cost of running bundles of 18/6 and 22/4 long distances limit this product's appeal for larger facilities where the panel can be hung relatively close to each controlled door.

Product Details

From a technology standpoint, the offering is not especially novel nor unique.

However, structural differences in hardware design exist compared to Identive/Hirsch MC series. For example:

  • An 8 door expansion daughter card fits directly onto a motherboard slot.
  • The central CPU board is smaller and built with a faster processor and bus, which the company claims greatly improves transaction speed.
  • The can features a power supply that is more efficient and has greater amperage, and therefore allows more door accessories to be powered directly from the panel.

An image of the MxController is shown below:

Other attributes of the offering that stand out are: 

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  • 4000 Users: Regardless of which model is used, the population of cardholders is capped at a relatively low level compared to enterprise access systems.
  • Read In/Read Out: Unlike many commercial offerings, the Mx Controller supports dual readers at each door, allowing for a high-security 'read in/read out' configuration.
  • Daisy Chainable: A series of Mx Controllers can be centrally managed from one interface.
  • Native FIPS-201/PIV Support: Mx Controller supports the most aggresive interpretations of federal credentialling standards, and when matched with Hirsch readers, supports compliance end-to-end.
  • Native ScramblePad/MATCH2 protocols: Unlike other systems forced to interface with Hirch readers through common, less secure protocols, the Mx Controller has the option to use the high-security MATCH2 interface. 

Competitive Pricing

The new entrant is designed to give existing Hirsch/Identive dealers a competitive offering to the likes of Lenel, Software House, and S2 in government sales. With sequestering and budget cutbacks a reality for government sales, the likelihood of simply being 'written in' to a specification is greatly reduced, and Mx Controller allows dealers to compete on a per-cost basis against other vendors.

While exact pricing is a function of mode and dealer discount, the typical Mx Controller system is targeted at under $2000 per controlled door. The cost of the panel is projected to range from $500 - $900 per door, about half the price for previous versions from Identive/Hirsch.

Backward Compatible

The Mx Controller works with legacy Hirsch ScramblePads, ScrambleProx, and ScrambleSmartProx/ secure keypad readers. Unlike other systems that may only provisionally operate with these devices, Mx Controller maintains encryption from the reader into the panel. For high-security or ultra-high security (SCIF) deployments, this backward compatibility might be required when upgrading or expanding a system.

Marketshare

While it does not break new ground from a functionality standpoint, the Mx Controller allows for existing Hirsch/Indentive dealers to compete against mainstream offerings in the critical government/high security vertical.

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