How to choose an office security system

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RedCloud Express

This system provides site security via sophisticated access control.

RedCloud boasts that its RedCloud Express system "is as easy [to set up] as a wireless router."
RedCloud provides a different type of premises security system, one that revolves around access control. As such, RedCloud Express wouldn’t be appropriate for a retail operation open to the public, but it is ideally suited for small-office buildings, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities where you need to restrict access to authorized personnel and you wish to keep track of who’s coming and going.

Unlike FrontPoint and ADT, which sell security systems along with subscriptions to central-office-monitoring services directly to the end user, RedCloud sells its security systems through a dealer/installer network.

And instead of paying service fees for central-office monitoring, you manage a RedCloud system on your own, using a PC, a smartphone, or a tablet. This means that law enforcement won’t be dispatched in the event of an alarm event unless whoever on your staff is monitoring the system at the time calls them.

You can manage any of RedCloud's browser-based systems using a PC, a smartphone, or a tablet.
A RedCloud security system consists of a master controller linked to door and window sensors, security-card readers, keyless-entry devices, IP surveillance cameras, alarms, and lighting controls via an ethernet network.

Typically this type of access-control system operates on a stand-alone server with a commercial operating system and database, and it relies on proprietary door hardware that ties you to one manufacturer.

In contrast, RedCloud’s systems are designed so that any corporate IT department can deploy and maintain them. You have no applications to install on the client machines—you can monitor and maintain the system using any PC, tablet, or smartphone—and the systems utilize nonproprietary door hardware.

How Much Does It Cost?

RedCloud provides the most sophisticated access controls of the three systems discussed here.
The least-expensive model, RedCloud Express ($1200 to $2000), is a network appliance whose setup, according to the company, “is as easy as installing a wireless router.” RedCloud Express can manage up to 32 card readers and up to 2000 identities.

RedCloud Enterprise is a rack-mount server that can manage up to 2048 card readers and as many as 500,000 identities. RedCloud Virtual delivers the same functionality as RedCloud Enterprise, but in a VMware virtual-server environment.

And if your business doesn’t have the desire, the IT resources, or the capital budget to acquire and manage a RedCloud system on its own, keep in mind that RedCloud recently announced a cloud-based initiative whereby service providers sell its product as SaaS (software as a service). In this scenario, the service provider purchases the hardware and installs everything, and you point your browser to the service provider’s website to manage the system on a subscription basis (at a cost of $80 to $100 per month, depending on your system's complexity).

Will It Fit Your Needs?

RedCloud’s products are aimed at larger businesses that are primarily interested in access control, as opposed to central monitoring with the ability to dispatch law enforcement automatically in the event of a break-in. RedCloud can tie into an alarm system—as well as lighting control, video surveillance, and other systems—but its primary function is to monitor, control, and maintain a record of who has access to your building.

Determining the Right System for Your Business

All three of the systems discussed here are capable of providing security for your office, tracking who's coming and going, tying into alarm systems, and protecting your physical assets. RedCloud's products deliver the best access-control features, because they're designed to manage keyless-entry systems, card readers, and door controllers. RedCloud's products are also the most scalable. FrontPoint can support keyless entry, albeit with residential-grade deadbolt locks. ADT can provide commercial-grade access control with its other service offerings, but that feature isn't tied into Pulse.

Although the ADT and FrontPoint systems started as residential security and home-control products, they can scale up to serve a small office or a retail operation. The RedCloud systems cost the most and require the most infrastructure, but that system also provides the most sophisticated access control.

ADT's Pulse system costs more up front than FrontPoint's—especially after you take rebates into consideration—and ADT's monitoring charges are $8 per month higher when you add video surveillance, and $18 per month more if you opt for video surveillance and the thermostat. On the other hand, you won't have to install ADT's system yourself.

Note: This story was updated to clarify that the FrontPoint Security system requires broadband access only to support Internet video cameras; all other data is carried on a GSM network.

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