As security integrators put together increasingly complex systems for their customers, they often are called upon to develop custom applications. For example, a large business customer might want to have the capability to create badges with specific information fields for use with access control and other systems. Traditionally, creating custom applications such as those has been a time-consuming process, requiring developers to write lines of code to push or pull data to or from various sources. But a new offering from Tyco Fire & Safetyâ€™s Software House unit aims to change that.
Through an arrangement with Micro-soft, Tyco has developed what Peter Boriskin, Tycoâ€™s director of product management for access control, calls a â€œsecurity development environmentâ€ aimed at simplifying the process of custom software development. The new software platform, which is yet unnamed, is based on Microsoft.net, which Boriskin calls an â€œapplication framework.â€
â€œWhen you think traditionally of security, you think of security applications,â€ Boriskin explains. â€œThese are usually applications built on top of some environment. But now you have the opportunity â€” and weâ€™re capitalizing on the opportunity â€” to create the framework first and the applications second. Now you can create a platform onto which you can put integration for any number of different ancillary systems.â€
Advantages of this approach include faster software development, as well as the ability to more easily make and test changes. The traditional approach, Boriskin says, involves â€œa large monolith of code and any change made anywhere could affect everything you do anywhere.â€ As a result, he explains, â€œWhen you make a change, you have to quality check the whole application.â€ Now, he says, â€œWhen you make a modification to a module, all you have to do is test that module.â€
The first offering Tyco will bring to market based on its new platform is a badging module for its C-CURE event management system. An example of how the module might be used would be to create a custom application to generate badges for an end-user organization. If, for example, the customer wanted to include a field for a personâ€™s license plate on the badge, C-CURE could be linked to the management system containing the license plate information. It then could be used to import data and, in the badging tool, developers could pull up the fields they imported and display them in the manner they see fit. They could even bar code the license plate, Boriskin says.
Boriskin anticipates that both systems integrators and end user organizations will use the new badging module. â€œIntegrators are more attuned to the configuration of hardware and loading of data to get the system, events and applications linked together,â€ he says. â€œCustomers are more concerned with the maintenance of the system, event and alarm monitoring and report writing.â€
Qualified personnel should not have difficulty using the tools included in the badging module, Boriskin says. â€œWe have a tremendously qualified integrator base and have a dealer certification program,â€ he says. â€œPart and parcel of that certification is a commitment to training. Integrators become a valued advisor to the customer. To us it means they are more self-sufficient.â€
By leveraging software tools from Microsoft.net, Boriskin says Tyco was able to include WYSIWYG (or â€œWhat you see is what you getâ€) capability in the badging module so that developers can see on-screen exactly how a badge will look.
Microsoft was closely involved in the development of Tycoâ€™s new platform. Noting that Tyco is part of Microsoftâ€™s Enterprise Go organization, Boriskin says, â€œThey have been tremendously helpful in supporting technical training for engineers and giving us the opportunity to use Microsoft facilities to do testing. They allowed us to leverage their developers and we have been looking at some of their cutting-edge technologies. They linked us up with the engineers doing the development.â€