Openpath vs. Lenel Access Control

See why customers choose Openpath’s cloud-based, mobile solution over legacy access control from Lenel. 

Lenel access control review

Lenel is a legacy access control provider with a global customer base. The company, which was acquired by United Technologies Corporation (UTC) in 2005, has multiple access control products and services. UTC also purchased access control company S2 in 2018, further expanding on the available Lenel lineup. Lenel’s access control products include a range of proximity door readers, access control boards, and the OnGuard System software. Lenel also offers video management software and visitor management services.

Quick look: key differences between Lenel and Openpath

While both access control companies offer similar services, there are some key differentiators that come up in Lenel access control reviews. 

  • Cloud compatibility. You’ll get limited cloud hosting capabilities with Lenel, depending on the products you choose. Some versions of the access control systems still require local servers to operate. Some of Lenel’s cloud services are pre-configured, and not as customizable as other companies. Openpath is a fully cloud-based access control company, with no on-prem servers needed.

  • Integrations. As a legacy provider, most of Lenel’s hardware is not compatible with mobile access, and the company currently does not support mobile SDKs. Integrations with Lenel are done via API, and only with certified partners. Openpath is a truly open platform that supports integration via API and mobile SDKs, with out-of-the-box integrations with many of the same technology top-rated partners Lenel offers, plus the ability to customize your system. 

  • Product warranty. Lenel offers limited warranties on hardware and software. All Openpath products come with a lifetime warranty.

  • Built-in video. At the time of this Lenel access control review, there are no Lenel products with built-in video capabilities. Customers have to install cameras and license additional software for video surveillance. With Openpath’s Video Reader Pro, organizations have all-in-on access with real-time video, with management in a single cloud-based dashboard.

  • Digital guest pass. Openpath lets users send visitor credentials to guests directly in the app. The permissions are customizable by time and entry, and sent via text or email so the visitor can use their phone to get in the building. At the time of this Lenel access control review, the company does not support a similar feature.

  • Customer support. Many customers mention a lack of available support in Lenel access control reviews, especially in regards to installers. Openpath offers 24/7 customer service options, with a dedicated team of support staff on-hand to resolve issues quickly and answer any questions ASAP.

Openpath’s reliable, future-proof mobile access control

  • Multi-technology readers support mobile, keycards, fobs, RFID and Apple Watch

  • Intuitive, open software platform with remote management, dynamic access permissions, and real-time customizable reporting

  • Built-in, high-definition video capabilities with real-time remote monitoring

  • Powerful safety features for occupancy tracking, anti-tailgating, and emergency lockdown activation

  • Scalable hardware and software that secures a single entry or an entire multisite enterprise with ease

  • Integrates seamlessly with existing security hardware and software via open standards

  • Automatic updates, offline functionality, and encryption at every level

Comparing Lenel on-prem and cloud software solutions

Lenel is best known for their legacy, on-premise access control solutions. While locally hosted software has been the norm for decades, especially for large multi-site organizations, there are limitations with this type of technology. One of the biggest challenges of on-premise access control is maintenance and upkeep. Because all the software is hosted locally at each location, updating the system is a lengthy, and often expensive, manual process.

A fully cloud-based access control system solves for all of the above issues. Lenel does offer some cloud-based features with their OnGuard software, however this is pre-configured and managed through a third party at Amazon Web Services (AWS). At the time of this review, Lenel’s most recent software update (OnGuard 7.6) is cloud-compatible, but still requires that software be installed on local, on-prem servers for most deployments.

Integrations are essential to creating a flexible, IoT-connected organization. Centralizing security management through cloud-based automations is a growing trend, especially for enterprise businesses that want better ROI on their technology investments. The one-size-fits-all solutions are often expensive and lack the ability to adapt to changing business needs. Both Openpath and Lenel can support integrations with a number of other apps, platforms, and building systems. However, Lenel requires technology partners to create a certified interface through their OnGuard platform, so your options for customization will be more limited. Openpath is built with a truly open architecture, allowing limitless customization via API and mobile SDKs, with many popular integrations available out-of-the-box. Plus, the Openpath interface is easy to navigate, which makes enabling new features and integrations quick and simple.

Secure, scalable access control

Openpath offers a complete access control solution designed to secure anywhere from a single door, up to thousands of entries across multiple locations. 

Mobile access and touchless entry

Lenel’s mobile solutions, called BlueDiamond, are one of the newer additions to the product line. The BlueDiamond readers are the only Lenel door readers that work with the mobile app-based entry, so existing Lenel readers will not support smartphone credentials. Like Openpath, Lenel’s BlueDiamond readers also support prox cards and smart cards for backwards compatibility with older systems. 

The mobile system is managed through the Lenel OnGuard software. Depending on the software version installed, you may still have limited cloud-based management capabilities. Once new users are set up in the OnGuard system, they can download the app to activate their credentials, and tap to unlock when near a reader. Openpath offers a similar experience, but the fully cloud-based platform means all administrators have remote access to the management system, so they can add or revoke new users at any time, from anywhere.

While Lenel does offer “hands-free” access methods, they require some initial setup from the user. In order to use the feature, users need to either enable pre-configured travel routes and commonly used entries in the app, or register a specific read-range distance for each entry. With Openpath, touchless access is enabled on the administrator side with a single click, with no extra work for the end user. Openpath’s Wave to Unlock feature also provides additional security by having users show intent to unlock, minimizing the chance for an accidental unlock and potential security threat. Lenel’s mobile readers use Bluetooth (BLE) signals to unlock. In comparison, Openpath uses a patented Triple Unlock technology, which simultaneously races Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular data signals for a faster, more reliable unlocking experience.

Another advantage to Openpath over Lenel access control systems is the ability to send digital guest passes. Lenel users will still need to escort guests in person, or give them a temporary card credential to use on the premises. With Openpath, users can create customized visitor credentials in the app, setting specific time ranges and permissions, and send them via email or SMS to guests. This feature lets visitors open the door using their phone, without having to download the Openpath app. 

Door readers and controller hardware 

Looking at the different hardware options in this Lenel access control review, the company has a few product ranges designed for various applications. However, only certain readers Lenel sells support mobile credentials, and others are designed to only work with proximity key cards. If you choose readers that only support the credentials you use right now, that same hardware may be obsolete in a few years—a very costly mistake. Nobody wants to have to replace their entire deployment after a year in order to have the best protection available.

A better option for your building’s physical security is to install a system with a future-proof product line. Openpath Smart Readers and Smart Hubs are designed to be multifunctional, and support all credential types on the same system. Another benefit to a system like Openpath is that it’s backwards compatible with legacy systems, giving you added flexibility and cost savings. Lenel’s access control systems are only backwards compatible with Mercury controllers, meaning you’ll also have to replace the backend hardware if your existing system is made by anyone else.

Lenel currently does not offer any video security products, requiring customers to purchase and install third-party cameras, and license additional Lenel software in order to integrate the video surveillance system. Not only is this costly, cumbersome, it’s not a future-proof or flexible option. Access control door readers with a built-in camera are a smarter option for getting visual verification of access events at the door. Openpath’s Video Reader Pro solves this problem with a built-in, high-definition camera for a smarter edge device that does more with less investment.

Another consideration when comparing Lenel’s access control hardware is the flexibility to connect other systems. Lenel’s hardware limits the number of inputs and outputs, meaning you’ll have to pick and choose what’s most important. Openpath is more flexible, with more than twice as many configurable inputs and outputs to support a wide range of additional sensors, readers, and other security hardware. Plus, the plug-and-play design means installation is quick and efficient with Openpath.

For many modern spaces, aesthetics is a deciding factor in choosing new technology, and the bulky brick-like access control readers offered by legacy providers just don’t cut it anymore. Your access control shouldn’t take away from the sleek, sophisticated look of your building. Openpath’s multi-technology Smart Readers are award-winning for design, and can mount flush with the wall for a streamlined finish. The slim 11mm profile easily fits any space, and comes in both Standard and Mullion for tight areas like hallways. Openpath’s Pro Series Video Readers also feature a slim, sleek look, and can be adjusted for the best viewing angle during installation.

Guide to holistic enterprise security

Learn how to create a comprehensive security strategy for multi-site enterprise organizations by merging physical and cyber security systems.

Access control pricing review

In terms of cost, access control is a big investment for any size business. When comparing access control system costs, there are a few key components to consider: 

  • Initial hardware investment: the up-front cost of control boards, hubs, and door readers

  • Installation: the cost for installing a system will depend on the existing wiring or hardware, and whether or not your new system can use what’s already in place. Work with a certified access control installer to get a quote for installation, and ask if hardware is backwards compatible. 

  • Credentials: if you are using a legacy system like Lenel that requires smart cards or prox cards, your budget should allocate funds towards purchasing new credentials for all employees, plus additional spend to replace cards over time. Because a mobile access control system relies on a user’s smartphone, there’s no added cost for credentials. 

  • Software: a legacy access control system like Lenel that requires software hosted on-premise will charge an up-front fee for licensing. Keep in mind that on-premise systems will need regular in-person software updates, which will incur added costs. Many cloud-based providers use a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, with a set monthly or annual subscription cost that includes regular software updates.

  • Maintenance and training: if you host your access control on local servers, those servers will need regular maintenance either by hired staff or an outside technician. Lenel offers training courses for their customers and partners, but the class prices are steep. WIth new updates, staff will need to be trained on how to configure the software to support new features. With a cloud-based solution, the servers are maintained and serviced by a third party, with that cost included in the subscription price so there’s no surprise fees.

Because Lenel generally targets enterprise customers, their solution can be expensive for smaller deployments. Organizations with less than 50 doors to secure may want to consider a more cost-efficient option like Openpath. With hardware like the Single Door Controller, which supports up to two entries, and modular access control boards in 4-door and 8-door options, Openpath is an affordable access control option for both small and large businesses. If scaling up or back is a concern, Openpath’s cloud-based solution may be more cost-effective in the long run as well.

For enterprise organizations that want more flexibility and a future-proof security system, Lenel’s siloed products will likely be more expensive in the long run. In terms of security ROI, scaling to new locations, including adding new sites, doors, and users is often a time-consuming process. With Openpath’s cloud-based, intuitive software, scaling up or back is a matter of clicks, instead of weeks. Plus, flexible, interoperable technology is more efficient, helping your organization do more with less investment.

Alternatives to Lenel access control

If a legacy access control provider isn’t the right fit for your business, Openpath offers a wide range of features and capabilities customizable for your specific needs. The scalable solutions are designed to secure anywhere from a single door, up to thousands across multiple locations. Openpath software is also more affordable, with annual subscriptions that are based on usage; add new features or scale back at any time based on business. The feature-rich cloud software offers fully remote management, which is great for both small and enterprise businesses. The easy-to-use interface lets administrators add new entries, issue and revoke credentials, adjust schedules and permissions, and set custom alerts all in just a few clicks.

Openpath’s open API architecture and mobile SDKs seamlessly integrate with all the tools you use to run your business. The ability to create holistic building security means you can do more with less investment, increasing ROI while maintaining flexibility. A truly open platform like Openpath paves the way for smarter, safer, more adaptable buildings. Plus, with everything managed online, you get the most up-to-date software and security instantly over the cloud, with no face-to-face communication or in-person maintenance required. Openpath provides reliable, convenient mobile access control with advanced security features and dedicated customer support to safeguard what matters most.

To learn more about Openpath and schedule a free virtual demo, contact our team.

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