August 2008
Interview
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Anno ScholtenEMAIL INTERVIEW  Anno Scholten & Ken Sinclair

 Anno Scholten, Novus Edge

Anno Scholten has more than 25 years experience in the controls, security and building automation industries. Before joining NovusEdge, Mr. Scholten was CTO for Plexus Technology, Inc. where he was responsible for market development of Plexus’ web based solution for building automation systems. Prior to that, he was VP of Engineering for CSI Control Systems (now TAC), a worldwide building automation system provider. As an innovator and thought leader in the industry, Mr. Scholten has also served on many key industry standards committees and holds a US patent on a VAV Controller Using Fuzzy Logic.


Open Source for Open Systems – Progress Report

The success of any Open Source Software (OSS) initiative is building a community.

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Sinclair:  It’s been a few months now since you started discussing Open Source for Open Systems, how have your discussions progressed?

Scholten: The success of any Open Source Software (OSS) initiative is building a community. The community will both help build the vision and make the solution stronger as both proponents and detractors actively debate the subject. In the last few weeks, I have taken the Open Source concept on the road and have discussed its merits with many members of our industry.

Sinclair:  What were the types of companies and people with which you’ve been discussing OSS and its application to our industry?

Scholten: I’ve talked with small, innovative building system technology manufacturers, large control system manufacturers who have been in business for more than 100 years, system integrators both small and large, IT integrators both small and large, security system integrators both small and large, building owners, property managers, energy managers, energy suppliers, building managers, security managers, CIOs, individual technology developers, industry gurus and consultants, building tenants, and many more I can’t remember! I think we talked to more than 50 people in the last few weeks.

Sinclair:  That is an extensive list. What did you learn from these discussions?

Scholten: Those that cared about the systems in their facility cared a LOT about their technology choices. Everyone who cared had significant views on the industry and the whole supply chain from manufacturer to installation and service. In some ways, this surprised me as I didn’t think that they would be so much concern about the details, but they are. Not surprisingly, those that did not care about the systems had no views on the subject; tenants just want it to work.

Sinclair:  What were the more interesting views from those who cared?

Scholten: Many understood Open Systems but few understood Open Source. Interestingly, but obvious, the more IT centric the person was, the more they knew and understood about Open Source. I had to bypass several of my slides on Open Source for all of the CIOs we interviewed. Many had already embraced Open Source software solutions in their organization.

Sinclair:  Why do CIOs embrace Open Source Software?

Scholten: One CIO described it the best. He said that he has IT development expertise on staff and that Open Source Software allowed him to build unique solutions for his enterprise without the need to discuss the details with the original suppliers or system integrators. It also allowed him to build these solutions without the need to install third party integration hardware platforms that were incompatible with his existing infrastructure. He really liked the ability for his team to respond to his company’s business changes quickly and effectively. Proprietary software and platforms caused him too much ‘lag’.

Reliable Controls Sinclair:  What else did you learn?

Scholten: Jim Young, Co-Founder and CEO of RealComm provided some interesting insight. He compared Open Source for Open Systems to the OSCRE (Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate) initiative. OSCRE is the leading standards development organization for Real Estate applications. Their mission is to "Deliver global standards for exchanging electronic real property information and drive their adoption". As Jim observed, interoperability between applications is the next horizon for building systems and initiatives like OSCRE have already demonstrated the value of interoperable applications.

Sinclair:  What are the next steps for OpenLynx?

Scholten: Most significantly, Peter Michalek the developer of a very interesting oBIX Server based on an open source initiative (http://groups.google.com/group/obix-developers/browse_thread/thread/b9e782ad007505ea) has agreed to help us kick start the discussion on architectural issues of OpenLynx. Also, http://www.openlynx.org now points to the OpenLynx project on SourceForge.net . We will focus a lot of the community discussion on OpenLynx on this site.

Sinclair:  Please keep us up to date on your progress with OpenLynx.

Scholten: Absolutely, Ken and thank you for the opportunity to discuss OpenLynx on your. “Change Agent” site. Be the Change!

For more information on Open Source read Michael Kirrene's article in this issue Is IT God? 

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