Proprietary Vs. Open Architecture Security Systems

Know the benefits of both before you choose your technology.

Some providers of video surveillance systems, access control systems, intrusion detection systems and systems integration services offer an all-in-one service, including all system components and the service contract. These are called “proprietary systems.”

These systems can look very attractive by providing one stop shopping. Additionally, the initial purchase price can appear to be very cost effective.  

Proprietary systems do have a major flaw: once purchased, the client loses the advantage of competition regarding maintenance contracts, along with the cost of future or replacement equipment. If, for example, the maintenance service is bad, the client may be stuck with it.

Also, their components will usually be incompatible with products made by other manufacturers.

The alternative to proprietary systems is called “open architecture.” These systems allow substitution of compatible products from different vendors. If a maintenance provider turns out to be sub-standard, they can be easily replaced. 

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About the Author


Jim Grayson is a senior security consultant. His career spans more than 35 years in law enforcement and security consulting. He worked for UCLA on a workplace violence study involving hospitals, schools and small retail environments and consulted with NIOSH on a retail violence prevention study.Grayson’s diverse project experience includes schools, universities, hospitals, municipal buildings, high-rise structures and downtown revitalization projects. He holds a degree in criminal justice and a CPP security management credential from ASIS. He is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on a wide range of security topics.He can be reached at Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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