August 2009

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Rick HuijbregtsEMAIL INTERVIEW - Rick Huijbregts & Ken Sinclair

Rick Huijbregts, Vice President, Vertical Industries Cisco Canada

As Vice President of Vertical Sales at Cisco Canada, Rick Huijbregts leads a national team focused on developing sales practices and building solutions for vertical markets including government, education, energy, healthcare, retail, real estate, and financial services. In this capacity he also leads the development of Canada’s fast-growing Connected Real Estate practice. Previously Huijbregts was responsible for business development of Cisco’s real estate sector in the United States, Canada, and Emerging Markets regions. He started at Cisco in 2005 as a member of Cisco’s corporate real estate team in San Jose.

Building Automation and the Cloud

The Cisco Network Building Mediator not only provides the technical "glue" between the facilities and IT world; but it helps enable the convergence of industries.   

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Sinclair:  Rick, in the past we all joked in the industry about a “sky hook” as the whimsical structural bracing point for building construction objects. Cisco’s new building automation Cloud Connector provides a real solution to connect our industry’s real time data to the enterprise. Tell us your vision of how significant this “new age sky hook” is and how it transforms our industry from integrated islands to connected real estate. 

Huijbregts:  Ken, it is happening already and Cisco is gearing up to take this market by storm. With the acquisition of Richards-Zeta we are re-living the mid-80s -- history is repeating itself. Back then, Cisco started with the creation of the first multi-protocol router that made interoperability between disparate and proprietary computer systems possible. The network was born and has proven to become the universal platform for business and technology transformation. Truly, it has changed the way we work, live, play and learn. After enabling data to flow more freely between remote and disparate computer systems, we converged voice (and have become the world leader in business telephony) and then video. With the new Cisco® Network Building Mediator we are taking it to the next level to enable the Internet of Things. Now, billions of sensors, controllers, actuators etc. can be added to the Network as the platform for the transformation of life experiences. Sound big? It is. Cisco recently announced its Smart + Connected Communities vision of which our Smart Connected Building technologies (including Cisco Network Building Mediator) are a key component. 

Read more on our Smart + Connected Communities at:

Adding the Cisco Network Building Mediator to a Cisco network provides an instant opportunity for open access and communication to all the building, security and IT systems connected to the Network. Having the Building Mediator be part of the Network is a very powerful asset in our solution. It now shares the usual features of a Cisco network that is resilient, redundant and highly secured. The whole principle behind this is to move shared functionality to a common platform as opposed to repeating it amongst siloed and proprietary networks.  The Mediator is not a piece of middleware software sitting on a server, but is part of the technology infrastructure or fourth utility in your building. This makes our platform architecture very powerful: open, flexible and future-ready. It will help drive down costs and add business opportunities to the building world as never seen before.  

Now, the Cloud for the real estate industry has become real. As we see applications and services move 'off-site' and offered and provided by hosted service providers (SAAS or Software as a Service), you can start to imagine the opportunities for managing real estate, reducing energy and providing value-added applications to the users of buildings. Mind you, we never really built buildings for the sake of building them. We need buildings to live, learn, work and play. And that should drive how our physical and virtual environments behave (not the other way around). Converging the performance of our physical and virtual environments will allow us to match or organically and effectively start to address the real needs of users of these environments. The Network and the Cloud will allow the building industry to become more services-oriented instead of product or building oriented. Your building and its capabilities have become like an iPhone, and there is an open invitation to provide applications and services that can be pushed out to every standing structure in the world. It is happening already: ADR (Demand Response), remote building services and operations, energy monitoring and modeling (e.g. carbon calculations, trading), data mining and benchmarking. 

Coming back to your question: how significant is this "new age sky hook"? we believe it is the beginning of the transformation of one of the last industries standing that has resisted the adaptation of technology to re-invent, innovate and improve itself. The Network is and has proven to be the common platform to make this transformation happen. 

Sinclair:  The process and tools for the connection of real time data to enterprise has been a grey area. Is the Mediator Cloud Connector likely to be purchased and installed by the IT industry or BA industry or both and/or a new identity? 

Huijbregts:  This is a great question and maybe one of the more challenging opportunities. Still, there is a need to understand controls and building systems. Integration of such systems may be a stretch for most of our traditional IT integrators. In turn, it will be challenging for controls integrators to become IT experts (because of the technology itself, but also the culture of the two different industries.) The Cisco Network Building Mediator not only provides the technical "glue" between the facilities and IT world; but it helps enable the convergence of industries. Controls are becoming more IT savvy every day. We are confident that we see more and more network and IT specialists ending up working for controls companies. Until the world is perfect; we see a very healthy and logical hybrid in the market place.  

Our many traditional IT integrators are teaming up with the more innovative building controls integrators to together deliver end-to-end innovative solutions. New partnerships are born; and we will “incentivize” our partner community to embrace building technologies and integrators to deliver these whole-offer solutions to the industry. At the same time, some traditional partners are going to re-invent themselves and emerging partners are knocking on our doors. The role of "technology contractor" will take on a predominant role in the building process of the future where we see mechanical, electrical and comms start to work more holistically on delivering high-value solutions (away from the traditional silo mentality). 

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Sinclair:  What online resources does Cisco have for folks wanting to learn more and/or become the new identity? 

Huijbregts:  We launched our Smart Connected Buildings group (and the Cisco Network Building Mediator) only six weeks ago. In the months to come we will communicate actively with the real estate industry, partner community and adjacent technology providers that will add incremental value on top of our Network. Information on the product, case studies, and training and public webinars can be found on our public website:

For those that still wonder what this Cisco Network Building Mediator is all about, I recommend you watch this short video on YouTube. It is a demo that was recorded at Cisco Live last month: And while you're there, you can check out the EnergyWise demo: Bringing EnergyWise and the Cisco Network Building Mediator together will be very powerful and provide the ability to monitor, manage and reduce energy consumption and carbon footprints of businesses, buildings and communities. 

Sinclair:  How does an up and running sophisticated integrator gain access to this product and services? 

Huijbregts: For now, we have only limited resellers of the Cisco Network Building Mediator. Soon, we will be opening up our specialized partner program for our Smart Connected Building products. Perhaps one of your upcoming issues can inform your audience when the program is going to be announced. Also, we naturally would be pleased to share any upcoming webinars and conferences with you and your audience.

Still don't believe the future is here? Watch this: And we haven't seen anything yet. Our children are on Twitter, use YouTube and won't settle for anything less than an iPhone experience, and will expect video capabilities and technologies as shown on the video. It is crucial that the building industry wakes up and starts to change the way we design, build and run our buildings --- in order to accommodate the rapidly changing requirements of our future tenants and workforce. The technology to do this is finally here.


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