Testing Axis Access Control A1001 And Entry Manager

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jan 27, 2014

After years of speculation and months of waiting since its announcement, Axis' first access control offering is hitting the market (at least in the US).

The hardware is the A1001, a two door controller, and the included software is Axis Entry Manager, supporting up to 66 doors.

Here's a shot from our testing / video screencasts of the A1001:

Of course, the access control market is filled with competitors. On the IP side, HID's Edge offering is frequently cited.

In this report, we share our test findings of the new Axis control offering, both hardware and software, contrasting it to HID. In future tests, we will examine integration with third party offerings like Genetec and Milestone.

A1001 Controller Test Key Findings

The controller can be used either as a 'standalone' access system with up to 33 controllers and ~400 users or as part of an ADP access platform from vendors like Genetec, Imron, NLSS, and Milestone.

Key hardware findings are:

  • Easy Wiring: Due to the color coding and terminal labeling on each connector, wiring the controller is simple enough for even an access novice to tackle. Coupled with the software wizard 'Pin Connection Chart', wiring the A1001 for many doors should be relatively fast and uncomplicated.
  • Big: The physical size of the A1001 is ~7"X7"X2", and has a larger form factor than typical door controllers. While this offers plenty of room to wire components on the board, it could be difficult to mount/service the panel in tight spaces.
  • Loads of I/O: Aside from having a full two doors worth of reader/lock connectors, the A1001 also offers relay auxiliary outputs, (up to) 24 VDC outputs, two-way audio ports, and door inputs (Latch Monitors) to spare.

Pricing: The A1001 is available in limited US distribution only for ~$550.

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Axis Entry Manager

The default management platform is serverless and embedded into the A1001. The program offers basic features, but is closed to software integration with other systems and cannot be customized. While Axis Entry Management allows the A1001 to operate without needing additional software, it is weak and restrictive.

Key findings include:

  • Stable: Despite being a new platform, no bugs or hangups were seen in the interface. Cards always read and doors unlocked regardless of what other functions the unit was performing (populating logs, importing users, etc.) While device performance slowed down as number of enrolled users/schedules increased, the unit never locked up or failed to perform it's basic access control function.
  • No Live View: Axis omits the ability to see a real time log of events happening to the door. In order to find out fundamental details (eg: Which badge was just scanned, was the credential denied?) the user has to hit different screens and manually refresh the data after the fact.
  • No Reporting: Another big omission - no printable reports. Events are logged, but they must be manually filtered by fixed data fields and are not exportable or printable. Most access systems, even ones targeted to small populations of doors typically include basic reports.
  • Hardware Limited: In many ways, Entry Management limits the potential of what the A1001 can accommodate. For example, despite plentiful I/O ports, the system does not recognize "Latch Bolt Monitoring" a basic feature in many small-system platforms.
  • Time Consuming User Management: Simple tasks like populating the user database, adding credentials, and associating them with doors/groups is a manual process. The base platform lacks batch handling tools necessary for larger systems and will only be manageable in smaller systems.

Like their video management software, Axis is limiting their access software as to minimize competition with their partners.

Compared to HID Edge and Solo

With the A1001 being positioned as a 3rd Party controller, it draws comparisons to HID's Edge and Edge Solo systems that also can be used as part of, or independently in an access control system.

Axis Advantages Over HID

  • More Doors: Axis Entry Manager allows for up to 33 controllers to relate with each other for a system up to 66 doors. This is a clear advantage for Axis, as Edge Solo works with a maximum of 1 controller. Many small access systems can be served by the A1001 with no other software needed, potentially saving thousands.
  • Easier Install: Axis anticipates A1001s will be installed by access novices and engineered the controller to be simple to wire and connect. With the onboard wiring wizards and color coded connectors, a technician with no experience in access is better able to implement an A1001 based system.
  • Wide Range of Credentials: The A1001 accepts standard weigand and serial reader inputs, which means that most readers/credential types an be used by the A1001 and Axis Entry Manager. Comparatively, Edge Solo only support four HID-specific card formats and three basic types of readers: contactless cards, magstripes, and keypads.

However, not all comparisons stack in A1001's favor. Some drawbacks include:

Axis Weaknesses to HID

  • Less Sophisticated: Entry Manager does not support latch bolt monitoring or issuance of multiple credential types to single users without making duplicate entries. These modest 'power features' are supported by Edge Solo, and could rule out using Entry Manager where moderate security in required.
  • Double or Nothing: The A1001 is a two-door controller, while Edge manages one door. In some cases, using A1001 (eg: single/odd number door counts) mandates buying more controller capacity than needed. Considering the Evo Solo controller has a sub $300 street price, while the A1001 prices out at ~$550, using the A1001 will be more costly for some systems.
  • Clunky Reporting: Access systems, including Entry Manager, store tens of thousands of records and events. However, getting them out of the A1001 is a cumbersome task, with unwieldy filtering tools and no exporting/printing features. The Edge Solo includes basic reporting features, and allows users to download/print a number of basic logs Entry Manager does not.

Applications

The strength of Entry Management is most tangible for small commercial access applications like office buildings, storage facilities, or warehouses. For example, an office building application needing four doors controlled can use two A1001s with a cost just over $1100 and alleviates the need for additional management software.

Entry Manager will not be useful where high security or video integrated access platforms are needed. Despite being an Axis offering, Axis does not integrate it with its own video offerings (such as ACS, ACC, AVHS, etc.).

The advantage of using A1001s with 3rd party platforms is unclear until pricing and integrations are fully fleshed out. While the cost of Axis controller may be more expensive per door, the ease of installation and additional I/Os it offers could be an advantage over other controllers.

Physical Overview

The video below illustrates the size and build of the A1001. The controller is a self-contained appliance designed to be wall or ceiling mounted, with cabling routed out the bottom:

Connecting the Controller: Wiring the A1001 is easy. Axis considered that even veteran video installers may be new to Access Control and applied emphasis to make it simple. Wiring begins in a software wizard, where the installer configures the unit based on the hardware it will be connected to. This culminates in the controller 'configuring itself' based on those answers, and then generates a printable Pin Connection Chart that shows where each component connects to the controller:

Interestingly, Axis' documentation specifies STP network cabling used to connect both the controller AND the switch to the network backbone:

User Management Interface
Live View: The ability to see the door's current state is limited to forensic lookups only. The 'manual control' buttons (eg: Grant Access, Unlock, Lock) are located in a different tab than where 'Events' can be recalled, and without a separate video or intercom system there is no way to verify what is happening at the door as it occurs:

Adding/Importing Users: The onboard tools are useful for administering systems with a small number of users, but will quickly lose utility if more than a few hundred cardholders are supported. The process of adding new users is menu driven and straightforward, but does not scale to 'full cardholder' status more than one at a time.

An 'Import' feature is provided, which allows bringing in a .csv roster of names, but only basic details (Name, PIN, Card Number) can be imported, leaving the process of assigning each name to a group and schedule a one-at-a-time process:

Reports/Alerts: While a wide array of information is logged by the controller, that information is hard to manage. Queries are fixed to ~50 'topics (eg: Denied Credential Attempts, Configuration Logging, Door Warnings), but there is no list explaining those terms.
Printing the result of a query is not supported, and while the browser may support a 'print' option, only the results returned in the event box will be printed.

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