Gallagher SMB Review: Part 1
Gallagher’s SMB solution, which supports 10 doors, unlimited alarm inputs and an 80,000 event history, is built around an SMB Base Kit incorporating Controller 6000, power supply, fire drop, 16 inputs and 4 outputs (via HBUS), all bundled up in a quality weather-sealed metal housing.
Gallagher SMB is a cloud-based system comprising multiple components that offers full control of access control and alarms in the cloud. It’s easy to categorise such solutions as overly simple but that’s not the case with Gallagher SMB. This is a serious system with a thoughtful design that has been years in the planning. While it drives in the cloud, there’s full local support, including database retention, event history, backup power, I/O boards and everything else you would expect.
The process of design, engineering and manufacturing a completely new access control solution comprising multiple components, including readers and tokens, has been a whole of business exercise for the Gallagher team, with the system going beta in New Zealand 8 months ago and only just released in Australia, where it will be available to select Gallagher partners.
In short, Gallagher SMB is built around SMB Controller 6000, which sits between the system’s device boards in a local housing and communicates via existing data networks with cellular backup, allowing users to manage alarms, access control, 16 inputs and 4 outputs from third party systems, and site management tasks from a mobile device. Importantly, SMB offers small businesses self-managing and self-monitoring capabilities, allowing them to assign credentials and to receive alarm notifications and respond, with all actions logged in the event history for reporting and review.
Gallagher SMB Kit
In this first of a 2-part review, we’re going to examine the hardware components – while in Part 2 we’re going to delve deep into the operational side. While Gallagher SMB is a solution that comprises multiple parts, there’s good news for techs – the solution comes as a kit, with key components pre-built to make installation easier. The SMB Base Kit includes a cabinet, SMB Controller 6000, SMB 8-input board, SMB Fire Fuse Relay Board, SMB reader (T11 or T15), a 3.5A power supply, and an optional Permaconn Kit providing private Vodafone cellular backup. The SMB kit and its components arrive preassembled – installers only need add the 3G/4G cellular router.
The system’s functional heart is SMB Controller 6000, which can manage an unlimited numbers of intruder alarms, an unlimited number of users, supports an 80,000-event history, manages 16 inputs and 4 outputs from third party systems, and handles 10 doors of access control when fitted with an up-rated power supply (the standard setup supports 4 doors). SMB Controller 6000 also orchestrates site management tasks via the SMB app, which drives the operational side for users and installers.
The controller is connected to Gallagher’s private cloud infrastructure hosted locally on Amazon’s AWS cloud platform. Importantly, SMB 6000 controller is authenticated and authorised using unique RSA encryption keys securely generated and pre-loaded by Gallagher at the factory. Vital, too, communications with the cloud are via secure, encrypted TLS/AES connection.
SMB Controller 6000 has a suite of powerful functions in its own right. For a start all firmware updates, including new functions and cyber security enhancements, are automatic. Important, too, all controller data is securely stored and backed up in the cloud automatically. And, as well as authentication and encryption between controller and cloud server, there are encrypted RS485 communications, including updates, between SMB 6000 and field devices. You connect SMB 6000 to a local network via blue cable, with secure cellular ensuring redundancy should there be primary connections issues.
Next cab off the rank when it comes to hardware is Gallagher SMB HBUS – there’s an 8-input board and an 8-input and 4-output board providing secure input and output device options. HBUS comms is based on the RS485 standard and allows each HBUS I/O Board to communicate with SMB Controller 6000 at distances of up to 500m at a speed of 1Mb/s – those are great specifications. For more complex applications, HBUS boards can daisy chain – each board has a unique identifier, as well as authentication, encryption, and configurable end of line resistance.
SMB Authentication Options
When it comes to reader options, you can choose from Gallagher T11 or T15 options, with authentication handled by Gallagher SMB key tags, or you can control access with a Bluetooth or NFC-enabled smartphone. In either case, access in unaffected by internet connectivity – updates are held over until the network is restored. Smartphone access gives considerable flexibility – the system can be programmed to undertake actions like disarming or unlocking a door when an authorised phone comes within a defined range.
Gallagher SMB T11 and T15 reader support MIFARE DESFire EV2 4K fobs, and have a read range around 60mm for SMB tags. These Gallagher readers are compact at 115mm x 70mm x 12mm (T11) or 139mm x 44mm x 23mm (T15), and rugged – each is rated IP68 against weather (submersion) and dust, and IK07 against impact. The important power number – idle draw – is miniscule – around 80mA, and they can be installed up to 500 metres from the controller. These readers are either black or white, and feature heartbeat monitoring and a lifetime warranty.
Gallagher SMB Key Tags are feather-light at 3g and constructed using an overmolding process and PA6 industrial grade plastic, making them waterproof, dustproof, more or less impact-proof and cost-effective. These tags are encoded on a site-by-site basis via a local process of registration, with support for up to 27 sites able to be stored on each tag.
What’s neat about SMB tags is that they are encoded using an NFC-enabled smartphone running Gallagher SMB app. The way it works is that a user with elevated privileges must authenticate themselves prior to encoding a tag – administrators go through a simple process of inviting new users into the system. Importantly from a protection perspective, there are security layers that prevent tag cloning, while at the same time, the tag’s unique serial number can be made available for use by third-party solutions.
Because Gallagher SMB is a mobile-first security solution it comes as no surprise that it supports mobile credentials using FIDO authentication, and pre-shared asymmetric keys with elliptic curve cryptography (P256). The beauty of using a personal smart device is that its very easy to establish, grow and administer the system. There need be no purchase or physical management of key or card libraries ever, saving money, time and hassle. This is a really big thing for small and medium businesses.
Importantly, Gallagher SMB’s mobile credentials are drawn from the proven Gallagher Mobile Connect credentialing solution, and mobile credentials are provisioned using the Gallagher SMB app by that simple process of user invite – there’s no limit to numbers of credentials that can be assigned to a site, either.
While I’m getting a demo of the system, I go through this enrolment process, and it really couldn’t be easier. An email invite arrives, I use it to download the Gallagher SMB app, register a credential and can then drive the demo system by presenting my smartphone at the door’s reader. Use of a mobile credential also allows longer range arm and disarm, automated features that can be very appealing in SMB applications.
This 2-factor authentication is a key part of the picture – in the case of mobile credentials it’s based on something a user has (phone), something they know (PIN/password), or something they are (biometric). With Gallagher SMB, 2-factor authentication is always required to disarm a system and once the system is disarmed, a user presents their SMB app-enabled phone with credential to access the door. iOS smartphones, like mine, communicate with the reader using Bluetooth – while Android comms is NFC or Bluetooth.
Gallagher SMB has a cloud-based architecture that’s designed to be plug-in play. Once powered up the controller is automatically assigned an IP address using DHCP and will then update itself with the latest firmware, cyber security features, and functionalities.
In standard trim, Gallagher SMB system supports 4 doors, 16 inputs and 4 outputs, along with unlimited users and unlimited areas. The cabinet supports optical front and rear tamper detection, and provides one footprint for controller and I/O boards. The power supply supports Mains Failure and Battery Low monitoring.
But the system scales, too, and can be extended by connecting multiple HBUS devices to a single RS485 port on the controller. Each RS485 can support I/O boards and readers. This increases the system’s capacity to 10 doors, 10 T11 or T15 readers, 128 inputs, 64 outputs – you need a dual cabinet with an 8A supply for this configuration – again there are unlimited users and unlimited areas.
Gallagher SMB App Features
While we’re going to go a lot deeper into the intuitive and functional SMB App in Part 2, there are a number of core user and installer app functions worth covering off in this initial overview. On the security alarm system side, SMB app lets users view the state of alarms, as well as arming and disarming the system. They can also add, edit, and remove users, and they can manage which areas users have privileges for.
SMB App also allows multiple users to receive notifications when an alarm has been triggered (self-monitoring only), or when the system hasn’t been armed at a specified time. It’s also possible to view arming, disarming, and actions taken events in the History log, view past incidents in the Past Incidents log, and to manage multiple sites using a single app. From a user point of view, all this makes life very easy, indeed.
Meanwhile the access control functions of SMB App allow users to request access at a door reader using their smartphone (with Bluetooth or NFC) or a Gallagher SMB Key Tag, disarm areas using their smartphone, lock and unlock doors remotely, restrict who can gain access to doors, and set an access schedule to lock doors at certain times of the day. When set up, the door will unlock for the scheduled unlock period only after an authorised user has requested access at the door.
At the same time, the app allows the control of inputs and outputs – HBUS I/O boards monitor the state of the balanced inputs and switch output relays as instructed by the controller, which is driven by the app. Something installers will appreciate is remote configuration through the Gallagher SMB Installer Configuration application – we’ll take a deeper look at the operational side of Gallagher SMB from the point of view of end users and installers in SEN’s December issue.
Features of Gallagher SMB Include:
* Access control support for up to 10 doors, with multiple readers configurable per door
* An unlimited number of alarm Areas and Area Groups
* An unlimited number of users
* 80,000 system event history
* Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) with a connection encrypted by Transport Layer Security (TLS) for secure network updates
* Controller data is safely stored and backed up in the cloud
* Controller supported with a 4G cellular router, via private Vodafone network
* High speed RS-485 connectivity and software updates to field devices
* Strong authentication and encryption between the controller and AWS cloud servers
* Remote configuration support through the Installer Config application
* Support for multiple wiring topologies, allowing easy connectivity of existing field devices without re-wiring.
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