Why open-protocol security systems win hands down

16 Nov 2021
BY Dave Salisbury

Why open-protocol security systems win hands-down


Open protocol and closed protocol systems – confusing phrases to many people. In our industry they’re very common terms that we use on a daily basis so we often forget that we might be talking jargon. I was recently asked what the differences between them are and why Zicam only designs open protocol security systems, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain it here.


Open or closed – what’s the difference?

Full disclosure! That’s the main difference, and by that I mean that the technical data for each component in the system is fully disclosed so any number of manufacturers can produce compatible equipment and devices. Third parties can also manufacture complementary technology using the same protocol.

If it’s a closed protocol system, the technical specifications are withheld which means each device or piece of equipment installed as part of the system has to come from one single manufacturer.

So what are the benefits to installing an open protocol security system? Here are my top 3 reasons why open protocol beats closed, hands down.

1.      Flexibility

Each component of the security system can be selected from any manufacturer of that component, which means you can select from a range that starts from “does the job” to “high-tech and state-of-the-art”. This provides a huge amount of flexibility as it means that your security system can be entirely bespoke to your business needs and meet any budget restrictions.

2.      Longevity

If one component shows a fault it’s easy to replace with minimal fuss or disruption and it leaves the rest of your system intact. And because it’s easy to repair, service or replace each component part separately, it’s also easier to take care of the system and extend its lifespan (and avoid the cost of having to replace it in one go).

A note here for closed protocol systems – if the manufacturer chooses to discontinue one of the components, that could mean a costly exercise to finding a solution.

3.      Service and maintenance

Also linked to flexibility. The fact that the technical data is open and transparent, if you wanted to change the company that services your system from the one that installed it, then you have the flexibility to select the engineer of your choice.


A word of warning

Of course, it’s entirely up to you which system protocol you choose to install, and there are some benefits to a closed protocol system: (1) with all components coming from one manufacturer then compatibility is almost guaranteed, (2) only the manufacturers approved engineers can install and service the system so perhaps there’s a higher level of security.

Where this option falls down is because of the single source aspect. You and your CCTV, fire, intruder, and other systems will be under contract with one manufacturer and its installation and service engineering team, and because of that you might suffer from slow service, and uncompetitive costs. You will also be entirely dependent on that one source for spare parts and will be contractually obliged to buy the parts from them even if you manage to change to a different service company.


Zicam only designs open protocol security systems.

All of our systems are open protocol, so we can use any manufacturer’s equipment in the design of a security system. Our number one reason for doing this is so we can assure you that we’ve sourced the very best technology on the market without you being tied into rolling yearly licensing fees.

From the earliest days of Zicam, we made sure that we only source the most up-to-date security technology for our customers, and that hasn’t changed in 25 years. It’s important to us that you get the highest quality equipment because it – without doubt – provides the most exceptional performance.

If your system is due an upgrade, or you’re interested in a bespoke, open protocol security system to protect your business and assets, you can always call us to go through the benefits, costs, and next steps.


Dave Salisbury, Managing Director, Zicam Integrated Security Limited.


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