Pelco's Abandoned Access Control Line (Infinias)By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Apr 23, 2013
Once upon a time, Pelco had its own access control offering that claimed to be the 'smallest, most powerful', and 'highly scalable' platform available, and everything appeared set for a fairy-tale ending. However, like so many star-crossed relationships, Pelco grew distracted with other problems, promptly ended things, and left this fledgling system to fend for itself in the harsh winter of the competitive security market. What happened afterward? In this note, we look at the platform, Infinias' eIDC32 based access system, and review which applications it makes the most sense.
Infinias began life after being spun off by Pelco in 2009, who on the heels of acquisition by Schneider Electric in 2008 and facing the shift from analog to IP in the core video segment, elected to divest itself from its Intelli-M access control products. Despite a whirlwind of ownership changes, eventually being consolidated by Observint Technologies in 2012, the company is still producing access control hardware and software, specifically the diminutive eIDC32 controller and Intelli-M software.
The most notable attribute is that the standard door controller fits in a double gang box. Measuring roughly 1.75" x 2.75" x 1.75", the controller is a fanless, solid state device with two contact blocks and LED indicator lights on the face. Note the relative size of the controller compared with the standard RJ-45/CAT cable in the image below:
Generally, a controller is responsible for coordinating the action of the door based on credential reads. Its central function is to unlock doors and accept reader inputs, and the eIDC is designed to perform these functions with no wasted space.
The reader itself is networked via standard ethernet and TCP/IP addressing. Other notable features include:
- PoE Powered: The controller itself consumes ~300 mA, and passes through 450mA to accessories like readers and strikes. However, items like maglocks and other high-draw hardware must be separately powered. To control those devices, the eIDC32 includes a Form C relay output contacts.
- Read In/Read Out: eIDC32 controllers support using two readers per door, allowing it to be used in 'high security' applications.
- Browser Based: Central management of both credentials and controller configuration/maintenance is done from browser access, and applications for smartphones are available.
- Transaction Storage: The controller has capacity for up to 64000 users and 16000 events stored per controller.
- Infrared Tamper Sensor: While tampers are not unique, the eIDC32's infrared tamper is distinctive. Unlike the mechanical switches used by other controllers, the infrared type does not constrain they way they are mounted. If the beam is disturbed, the controller alarms.
- LDAP support: The units integrate with Active Directory and sync to Outlook (Exchange) or Google Calendar to facilitate user/card holder management.
- "Unlimited" Door Support: Infinias claims no limit on the number of controllers that can be added in a system.
The cost of the controllers, and the subsequent management software is low compared to enterprise offerings, with the typical equipment cost of:
- ~$500 per controller (one per door)
- ~$1000 for a pre-installed 32 door management server
Including other door hardware, cabling, and installation labor, pricing 'per door' will range between $850 and $1300 per door. Product is purchased directly from Infinias, and dealer discounts apply.
While the same controller is used regardless of system size, the management software that ties them together varies. The 'Intelli-M' platform is available in software only or pre-installed server versions, with the base supporting unlimited doors and event logs. However, more power ful features like VMS integration, LDAP support, and user-defined rules and database fields are only available in higher versions. While the public can resell the base 'Essentials' version with no restriction, a dealer must be factory trained to sell 'Professional' and 'Corporate' versions.
The Intelli-M software platform supports direct video integration with a mix of VMS platforms, including (Observint Technology's) DIGIOP platform, Digital Sentry from Pelco, Vicon, American Dynamics , Milestone, and Exacq.
Interestingly, one of the distinguishing characteristics of the platform is also the least useful. While the small size of the controller makes the system stand out from other offerings, most of the time this device is hidden above a drop ceiling away from view. Take the example of the CCURE system below:
While the size of the Infinias controller makes it easy to hide, it also makes it potentially difficult to find and work with. The physical space the controller occupies is so small, it can easily be overlooked when troubleshooting in dark places and may cause technicians with less dexterity issues during wiring. The size of a 'canned' controller may be more substantial, but that substance also clearly establishes importance, even to the inexperienced maintenance person.
However, on the flip side, the platform supports a surprising array of functions not commonly available in non-enterprise platforms. For example, the basic platform supports elevator cab controls, a badge/report printer, "lockdown" and "mustering". For a system consisting of sub-$500 controllers and targeted toward the smaller markets, these are advanced and complex features.
Without testing we cannot vouch for stability or useability in large systems. However, system pricing and ease of deployment is ideal in small deployments, but web management facilitates multi-site deployments.
The Infinias system has a esteemed pedigree and offers a nice mix of flexibility and features at a low price point. So why hasn't the line appreciated more success? We suspect the answer lies somewhere between being born obscured behind a video giant's surveillance offerings, and the turbulent period of business uncertainty after being left to fend for itself.