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Consider your costs

Everyone wants to be secure, right! but most people want to pay as little as possible for this security; or they just take security for granted, thinking it’s someone else’s issue, writes Carl Pace, Managing Director of the Norfolk-based installation company, Check Your Security Ltd.

With the world going digital and many more digital devices now springing up, the issue of security both physical, systems and cyber security is becoming a much larger and complex issue. When you add how security systems are being used to combat issues such as covid-19 you can see it affects everyone. Once security systems are in place, the ongoing costs are something that people do not consider prior to purchase or until it’s too late and they are committed to a particular system, this commitment is typically five to ten-plus years. When you do the sums, you could be unpleasantly surprised!

Take CCTV and access control: there are literally hundreds of systems available, the first question you should ask yourselves are they enterprise level, SMB level, or smaller? Understanding what software and version/s they are running on each level: is it the same? or different; does it come with restrictions? Features are linked or limited based on your choice of system or fixed to a set number of cameras/devices.

Are all features available for all versions? Are any enhancements chargeable; look at upgradability with associated costs and what the specific product being tendered is capable of. Is it fit for your purpose not only today but next year or in the next five years, as most systems grow rather than reduce in size or complexity? Most video management systems and access control systems have yearly Software Maintenance Agreements (SMA) or Product Maintenance Agreement (PMA) costs. These are for both upgrades to the product plus bug fixes, new drivers and cyber security additions or patches; remember this is ongoing and exclusive of your system hardware maintenance costs.

These PMA and SMAs can be linked with specific system feature upgrades, new camera drivers’ virus security patches and bug fixes and come at a yearly cost; which when you look over a five-year period can be considerable. The costs are usually directly linked to number of devices and servers attached to the system, so if you have lots of devices you should carefully look at the total cost of ownership as these can have a dramatic effect on the total cost.

Let’s have a look at some of these costs to see what the real costs are and any potential pitfalls that don’t appear on any of the sales literature or has not been highlighted to you:

Initial cost of a full system both hardware and software; this is usually straightforward but check that you are comparing apples to apples and questions you should be asking are:

– Do you need any high specified powerful and expensive hardware for servers and workstations?
– Are server licences applicable and how many; is it one for each server?
– Workstation licence to monitor system; usually multiples one licence for each and needing a specific high spec machine.
– Camera or device licence- how many can the system handle; this is directly related to devices which can be hundreds or thousands, so the amount payable goes up accordingly
– Additional costs of ANPR and AI software plus any other integration services; is a specific additional server needed and what is the potential camera-device limitation or yearly and other costs- how many devices can a server handle?

A yearly PMA or SMA can be a reoccurring yearly figure of as much as 25 per cent of the initial cost of the software per year!

– On some systems you can not add new cameras or devices without a forced upgrade of all your system – this can be costly, holding you to ransom.
– Complexity in some installations increases; be aware of this as specialised help may be needed
– Network points, switches, and bandwidth in place to adequately support the system; make sure you have the bandwidth to fully handle your new systems peak requirements.
– How easy and flexible is the User interface to use and how quick is it? How much training is needed or involved to be proficient at using it?
– Any cyber security issues that you are aware of?
– System design specification and drawing and OEM manual
– Installation, commissioning and hardware maintenance costs.

Other considerations to look at: how many cameras or devices can you connect on the system and on any given server, is there an upgrade package when you expand the system- what is the costs. What does all the above mean to the overall cost of your system? In some cases, it can more than double its cost. So, it might be the cheapest in the tender process, but you end up paying a lot more for it in the longer term.

A five-year amortisation of these figures is a good process to go through to find out real costs of the system when comparing options. Some of these costs can be eye-watering, so a good process to go through is to work with someone who can show you what these hidden costs are, based on which systems or options you are looking at.

Got some questions on the above or just need a bit more clarification feel free to call or email? Don’t worry no charge. Check Your Security are an independent hardware and software agnostic company, its what’s best for you the end user that we focus on!

We have worked with numerous high profile and large end users to help them clearly understand these hidden costs of each system they are reviewing. We evaluate each option based on where their site is today and where you want to get to in the future help them to achieve this with minimal disruption and in the required timeframe.

What we ensure is that they have a comprehensive master plan of all suitable options for closer scrutiny and final testing before making the final and informed decision on which system to go with. This could be seen as a lengthy process but is vital and can be completed relatively quickly with potential massive savings and minimal loss of time and disruption both during evaluation mitigating any major errors in choosing and installing the wrong final solution.


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