S2 Access Control / 'Unified Security Management' Profile

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on May 08, 2018

In our 13th access control company profile, we examine S2 Security's Netbox platform:

  • Unified Security Management Platform positioning
  • Core feature comparison
  • Management Software Review
  • Controller Hardware Support
  • Netbox Video Integration
  • Magic Monitor
  • Competitive Weaknesses

Company Background

S2 Systems is an independent US manufacturer. The platform is sold in wide range of verticals, typically clients looking for a networked, IP controller based platform. S2 is primarily offered by a dealer resell/install channel and is not generally available to distribution.

Notably, S2's founder John Moss [link no longer available] also founded Software House, one of the largest incumbent access brands, sold to Tyco (now JCI). Moss formed S2 Security in 2002, and has remained CEO of the company from inception.

S2 ranked among integrator's 2018 favorite access control offerings.

Market ******** - * ******* ********

**'* ****** ******** ** offered ****** *** *** enterprise ************. ******, ** *** ******** ****** ******* ****, * ****** ** S2 ******* ****** **** sell *** **** ***** platform *** ******** **** small, ******, *** *****-***** deployments ********* '*********' ******* tightly *********** ******, *****, alarms, *** ****** **** a ****** ********.

*** *******'* **** ***** video ******** ***** *** 'unified' ******** ** *** platform:

** ***** ** ****, the ******** **** ********** can ****** *** ** two *****, *** *** management ********* *** **** to '*********' ******* ** doors, *********** **** ******* by ***** ******* ************. S2's ********** ****** ** browser ***** ** * small ***, ***** ********** in ****** ****** *** 'network **********'. *** ** S2's ********* ********** ** a **-****, ***-***** ******, and ** ********* *** adding ***** ** *********** or *****.

*******, ** ******* ************ position ** ** * unified ******** ********, *********** IP ******* **** *******/********** recorder *******, *** ***** video **********, ******* *******/**** notification ******** *******, *** ******* ** ****** ******* *** ***** ***** ***** or ******** *********. 

***** ** ****** *********** hardware, *** ******** **** supports******* ******** *********** *** interface ******. **'* ******* ******** is '****',********** **** **** ** different *** ***** ******** and *******, **** *********, *****, OnSSI *** ******* ***,*/* ******* (**: *** ******** ********** systems & *********), ******* management *******, ********* ******, biometrics, ***** *********, *** wireless ********.

Comparison *****

*** ***** ***** ********* S2 ****** ******** *********** based ** ****** *************** factors **** ****** ****, platform '********', **** ** video ***********, *** *** the ******* ** **** or *********:

Management ********

**'* ****** ********** ******* use *** **** ******** controllers *** ******** ******* to ****** ******** ********** of ****** ****: ** PC ** **** ****** is ****, *** ********** door *********** ***** *******-***** operation, ***********, *** ********* options.

****** **** *********** **** controller ** * *******, or *********** * *** party ****** **** * VMS / *** ** each **********, ** **** a '******* ******* **********' hub **** ** ******, or ********* ********** **** an ** ****, ** the ******* '***-**' ***** for ****** ** ***** integrations. *** ******* ********** then ************ ********** ******* node ******** **** *** interface.

******* ******* ******** ***** PC *** ***** ***** apps, *** ******* ********** live ******, ***** ***********, and ****** **********:

Supports **** *** ***** *** *********** ***********

****** **** ****** *********, S2 ******** * **** of *********** ******** *********** as **** ** ********** common *** ***** ****** from *******, ********* ******* 'bridge' ******** ****** *** converting ******** ***** *******, compatibility ** ***** ** ** ******* ***** ******* Board ** ******* ******** House.

** *******, *** *********** control ****** *** ****** '*****' ** **, **** three ***** ***** ************** by *** ****** ** readers **** *******, ******* they *** *** *******, or ** ******* *** be ********** **** ** embedded ********:

  • ** ******* ****: ** ** ** doors/ '*******' *** ********** with ** ** ** inputs, *** ****** ****** and ***,*** ************ ** onboard ******.  ***** *** expandable **** ***** ** up ** * ********** expansion ******. *** ***** model *** * ****** price ** ~$*,***.
  • ** ******* **** **:  **** ********* **** supports * *****/ *******, but ******* ******* ******* and *********** *** * IP ******* ** ****, with ** ** *** in *** ******* *** door ***** ** ********** via ******. (****** ***** starting ** ~$*,*** *** ranging ** ** ~$*,***)
  • ** ********* ****: **** '****' ********** designed ** ** ********* at ***** ** ******** supports ** ** * doors/ *******, *** ** PoE ********* *** *** issue ***** ***** **** PoE ** ******** ******* and *****. ****** ****** are ~$*,*** *** ********* Plus.

** ******** ** ******** enclosure *** ******, ** controllers *** **** ********* as ******/**** ******* '*****' form *******, *** * single ****** *** *** a *** ** ********** types *** ******* ******* in * '*********' **** of ******.

No **** ********** ** *** ******* *******

*******, ** **** *** ******* other *** ***** *********** such ** *** *****, HID ****, *** *** Axis *****. **** ***** be ** ***** *** users ******* **** ******** but ** **** *********** an ***** *** ****** over ******** ******* **** these ***********.

Open ****** *******

****** ******* *** ** include **** **** ******* for ******, *******, ** long-range *******. **** ******* *********** nearly *** ********** ***, MIFARE, *** *** ******* of *** *** *** 13.56 *** **********.

******* ******* *** ********* supported, ******** **** ******* is ******* ** ******* Security ***** ***********. *******, ** tells ** **** ******* is ********* ** '*****' via ********** (*** ** be ********) ********* ******. The ******* ***** **:

** *** ********* *** existing ****** ******* ***** with * **** ********** that ******** ****. ** will ** ****-********** **** the ******** ***** *** include * *** ********* and **-*** **** *** power.

No ****** ***** *******

*** ******* **** ***** us **** **************** ******* via ***** ******** * & C ** *** ** ******* plans ** *****, ******:

** ******* *** ***** standard *** ***** ******* in *** ***** ******, but **** *** ****** adoption **** *** ****** control ****. **** ***** is ******, ** **** address **.

Single *** ***** ***********

** ******* *****, ****** events, *** **** ******** in *** **** *****. In ********, ** **** views, **** ******** *** search ******** *** ******* in *** **** ********* screen. ******** **** '********** video ************', ***** ********** details *** ******** ** video ** ******** ** S2 ***** ** *** not **** ** ********* in ***** ****** ********* (ie: ******** ** *********). 

*** ******** **** ******** a **** ** ***** only **********, ****** *** '*****' ****, **** ***** * support **** ** - 128 ** ******* *** box ********* ** *** model. *** *** ***** systems, ** ********** **** several ***** *** *** NVR ********* ********* *****, Milestone, ******/*****, ********, *** Video *******.

S2's ***** ******* 

** ****** *********-***** ***** wall, ******* *******, *** public **** ******* *********** ***** *******. *** *** ******** a ****** ** ***** types, ********* ******** ***** streams ****** ***** *********, ****** ******, **********, and ******* ******* *** pushes ** ** *** monitor **** ** *** the ******* ****** ********* SmartTVs *** *******, *** tablets.

*** ****** ******** ** Magic ******* ** ******* based ** ******** ********. For *******, ** '******' mode, ******** *** **** local ******* ***** *** general ************ ******. *** if ** ********* ******** command ** *****, **** all ***** ******** *** visibly *****, ******* *** area ***** *** ******* was ******, *** ********* display ************ ** ******** to **** ***** ** notify ***********:

*** *** ***** *** sites *** ***** *** time *** ****** ** use ***** *******, *******. Extra ************* **** ** needed ** ****** *** information **** ** *********, and ***** ***** ******* may ** ****** *** larger ****** ******** **********, smaller ******** ******** ********* are less ****** ** ******* the ***** **** *****.

Platform ****

** ** ********* ****** by ******* ** **** of ** '***-**' ****** and ******** ****** ********* installation, *************, *** ******* costs **** *******, **** locks, *** **** *******.

*******, ***** ** ****** ***** alone, ******* *** ** is ********* ** *** midrange, **** ***** ****** prices ********* ******** ******* near ***** ** ********* access *********** **** *** all-in **** ******* ~$*,*** - $2,000 *** ****.

************, *** ******* ********** between ** *** **** other ****** ********* ** that ** ********** ********** servers ** '*******' *** installed/ ********, ******** *** ongoing *********** ***** ** operating *** ****** ** avoiding ***** **********.

****** **** ****** ********* that ****** ********* ****** kits ********* ********, ********, readers, *** *********** *** a ****** ** *****, S2 **** ***, *** design ** ****** ******** and *******.

************, ***-**** ******* *** software ******* ******* ** active ****** ******** *********** plan (****) ***** *** first **** ** *********.

** ** * ****** *******, with ** ****** ****** reselling. ******* ******* ** not ******** ********* *** can ** ***** ******** in *** ********* *** similar ********** ********.  

Remote/Web ****** *******

***** **'* *******-***** ********* ** not ********* *** ******* screens, *** ******* ****** an *** ***** '****** ******** ************' ** * **********-******** mobile ********* **** ******* for *** *** ******* smartphones *** *******.

*** *** ******** *** same ****** *** ******** of *** ******* ******, with ******* ***** ******* and ********/******/***** ********* *************** alike.

***** *** ***-******** ******** included *** '***** ** Capture' **** ****** *** cardholder ** ******** ** be ******* *** ******** in *** *****. '***** Snapshot' **** ****** ********** images ** ** ******* distributed ** '** ** Lookout' ******* *** *** or ***** ********. 

**********

*** ** **'* ******* disadvantages ** * ****** high ******** ********** ******** to **** ****** *********, especially ********* *** *** SMB ****** ********. *** users ****** ******* *** basic ******, **'* ********** features *** *********** ******** on * **** ********* local *** *** * mismatch, ********** ** ****** control ** *** ******** manned ** ********* ** real-time.

******* ** *** ********** ************ through ****** *******, ***** installation ******* *** ** limited, ***** ***** ** an ***** *** *********** looking ** **** ** S2 ** *** ***** wanting ** *** * non ** ******** **********.

S2 ****** *******

** ***** ** ***********, the **** ******* ** ******* ******** ******/********, *** ****** ***** of ** ** *** 2018 ********** ****** ********* and  ***** **** * 'unified' ***** *** ****** offering.

*********, ** ****** **** costs **** ******* ********, including *** **** ****** and **** ****** *******-**** appliances ***********'* ***** **** ****** *** ***-** ***** Mercury ********. ** * per-door *****, ** **** generally ** **** ********* by ******** ****.

** ****** ******* ******** that **** ** ****** at *** ****-***, ********* Magic *******, ********* ****** management, *** * ****** app ********* ******* ************ and **** ************ ** system ***** ******** *** surveillance ******.

*******, ******* ******** **** controller *****, ********* *** VertX *** **** *****, and ****** *****-***** ******** operation ******* ********** ********** ********, *** ******* ******* ******* ******** **********, ******** **** S2 **** *** *******.

***** ** **** *** tested **, ** *** limited ** *** ******** we *** ** ** such * **********.

Comments (14)

Excellent Brian! Great report, I've been waiting for this one for a while. I'd be curious what you gain or lose with the proprietary S2 hardware vs. the Mercury version. What the cost comparison is also?

There is some feature degradation between S2 nodes and Mercury, but not a ton. The biggest outright feature limitation off the top of my head is in regards to elevator control functionality, but there may be others.

That said, the real loss is with the simplicity of adding and configuring nodes vs Mercury. Obviously S2 makes it incredibly simple to identify and configure nodes, while it's a good bit more of a hassle to configure Mercury. That's not saying it's impossible or overly difficult, just that there is a noticeable difference. Obviously for someone taking over an existing Mercury installation, that is a total non-factor.

Another feature not available with S2 'Nodes' is OSDP support with readers. This isn't likely a showstopper for most commercial systems, but it might limit the hardware types bidded in high-security and larger systems to Mercury boards.

Any information on how S2 integrates with a multi-tenant intercom?  We use Kantech for access control because the KTES intercom integrates perfectly and allows elevator floor restriction for both tenants and visitors.  Does S2 have this ability?  We asked the rep but he had no idea.

I will ask S2 for feedback on this.  Thanks.

S2 responded:

"S2 does not currently offer native integrations to multi-tenant intercom, however a number of our large system users have integrated enterprise intercom. 

The company has development plans in voice concerning the Magic Monitor, Mobile Security Professional, and S2 Cumulus product lines, so stay tuned for that."

S2 announced an update to Magic Monitor this week:

Our analysis does not change, and Magic Monitor still is essentially a 'digital signage/ system client' that can be pushed to connected screens.

However, among the changes, the latest update allows for pushing webpages as display elements - the 'Web Widget'.  This type of feature is not uncommon for client-based VMSes, but being able to broadcast without clients is a nice feature for the client-less Magic Monitor.

For example, one might push a internet weather-radar page to Magic Monitor for general awareness in a mass-notification deployment.

I am formerly a system designer for an integrator and now I'm an end user for a gov agency that is based on S2.  (I'm also Genetec Certified)

Some end user feedback:

I really like Magic Monitor. I find it very simple to configure and I"m constantly playing around with the different views and features.  Live weather, traffic, people door access views, etc.  Being able to link the camera to the door and click one button on a 'forced' or 'invalid' event is really nice.

We are also going to deploy Magic Monitor as a mass notification system for weather events, shooter situations and other.

 

S2 has a lot of different hardware options. Right now, we have 3 different controllers around the state with about 8 locations.  (some run on the same controller, some are controlled independently). With MM, I can toggle between all of them very quickly. But having the different types of systems (Node VR's, which we have, and Quatros, which are an 'all in one system, which we also have) are great for very small sites (under 8 doors/cameras) medium and large facilities. 

I will warn against using Mercury hardware if you can help it. S2 has a very long white paper that describes all of the limitations that Mercury hardware has on S2 (like, first in unlock rule).  Setting up Mercury hardware in S2 also requires extra steps that are not obvious.   We have some older sites that had Mercury that we took over, and there were some issues getting it going.  I also have an enrollment reader based on a 1501 and it's got some attitude.

Also, I like that S2 node blades go into the can perpendicularly, as opposed to most Mercury boards which lay flat. So an S2 can takes up less space on the wall than a typical Mercury install would.

I personally think that S2 is easier to set up and use than Genetec is, but perhaps it's because I've been administering an S2 box every day for 6 months now and I don't have a ton of real world, hands on Genetec experience.  I think that the software interface is pretty intuitive and I trained another employee, who isn't tech savvy, on the basics of enrolling people in about 5 minutes. 

 

My biggest grips with S2 are based around the pricing and NetVR. I really do like the NetVR equipment, but I think it's over priced for what it is (the price to the customer).  However, the fact that integration licenses are included washes it out, but I think that they should drop their prices 15 to 20%. They also JUST got 8TB hard drives within the  last year, so their storage limits were pretty low until recently. 

 

Also, while Magic Monitor the software is free, the 'pro' license is about $200. One time, not a big deal, but you must have it to load more than 128 cameras and to get their advanced features.   However, their Magic Monitor Brick, which is nothing more than a Shuttle PC with Win 10 embedded on it, is several thousand dollars. 

 

My final gripe was with a major software upgrade we did over Dec. It required lots and lots of phone calls to technical support to get it to take properly.  We do have a unique situation because of firewalls and such, but I think that their upgrade documentation could have been more clear. If you're putting in a brand new system, it shouldn't matter.

 

I would still highly recommend S2. I think the only situation that I would shy away from it was if you were installing it in a single facility that had over 100 cameras.   While S2 NetVR does support 128 cameras, I think that with a system that is THAT video heavy, Genetec or Milestone is probably a better option from a day to day operational perspective

We had some issues with POE on the micronode plus units. Anyone else? 

following

Like what?

If you describe the issues, I'll fwd them to S2 for comment too.

Does IPVM have any intentions on doing a detailed test of the S2 Platform? If so, any idea when we should expect to hear from IPVM?

No test right now. We are wrapping up an intercom shootout in coming weeks, but we are considering an access control management software shootout in the future.

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