July 2006


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John Petze leaves Tridium to create another river of change as CEO of Privaris

Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com

Not sure if you heard but John Petze is leaving Tridium. John has been and remains an industry icon.

John PetzeFrom a small stream flowing from the company called Tridium, John and his team created a raging river with over 50,000 instances of Niagara installed worldwide. Tridium’s partners now include a wide range of innovative new companies and major OEM’s.

Thank you John for all your guiding and support and being the drummer for our industry. You have led the Niagara movement from no where to every where.

Your ideas, articles, and interviews have generated much of our news and direction. The power and reach of your work is truly amazing. Please take time to view all you have achieved and bask for a moment in the glory of all these achievements.

More than your drumming was missed at BuilConn 2006 this year, although your team of very capable "Tridiumites" helped carry the show and "oBIXicerings" on, you were personally missed.

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Past Issues

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From our June review of the 2006 Niagara Summit these words:

Tridium President John Petze kicked off the event with an update on the state of the Niagara Community noting that many opportunities exist for using the Niagara Framework and that they are just beginning to be tapped.

I agree John, the Niagara Community and the overall Building Automation Industry will miss you deeply.

John has now moved on and will create a new river that will flow to all our doors.

John shared this update with me. 

Let me give you a bit of information about my next endeavour. The company I am joining as CEO is Privaris (www.privaris.com). Privaris is not competitive in any way and is in fact in a different, although somewhat related industry. Privaris develops technology for identification authentication. It is used in both physical security (like card access systems) and logical security (such as logging on to a computer or network). Consider the following scenario:

If you work in an office building you probably have an access card (most likely proximity type). You have a collection of passwords for your computer, banking, web sites, etc., you have an ATM card, car keys and more. Basically it is a mess – insecure, complex, prone to confusion, etc. Ideally we would like to have one single “credential” that proves it is us. It needs to be tamperproof, theft proof, simple to use, and compatible with the way the world works. Privaris has developed such a solution. They have created a small device (the size of a key fob) that contains the latest thermal/optical fingerprint reader technology. When you hold the device (the “plusID”) it knows it is you. I someone steals it or you lose it, it is a worthless (but nice looking) piece of plastic. So if you are holding the device it becomes “active”. It will put out a signal so that it looks like a standard HID proximity card to allow access to the building. Once in your office it will put out a bluetooth signal to log you on to your PC, and if you have an old PC without Bluetooth, it can connect to the USB port. In these examples you can see the concept of working with the existing infrastructure (both physical and logical).

Some of the other key points – biometrics has promised to revolutionize security but has been held back by a number of issues. One issue is the fact that with most biometric solutions you have to “enroll” you valuable fingerprint information in someone else’s database in the sky. We hear lots about the risk of having your SSN stolen, imagine the issues if someone gets your fingerprints! With the plusID, you enroll into the device itself – your fingerprint information never goes anywhere. So it eliminates this very serious concern. Also, in the age of bird flu the idea of touching a public fingerprint reader is not very attractive to people. Again plusID solves this problem. You can probably tell that I believe that this will be a big business over the next few years.

See this month's article The world’s first mobile, handheld biometric fingerprint fob and the following news release.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia June 27, 2006 Privaris Inc., a leading provider of wireless biometric security solutions, today announced the world’s first mobile, handheld device that enhances security while eliminating the need for employees to use multiple access cards and passwords. Link

Listed below are some of the articles and interviews John has provided for our AutomatedBuildings.com web site

The recent acquisition of Tridium by Honeywell http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/jan06/interviews/tridium.htm

Tridium’s Niagara Appliance - Finalist for Buildy Product of the Year Award http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/mar05/interviews/petze.htm

Niagara@BuilConn http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/feb05/interviews/petze.htm

Status of Open Systems: Niagara Framework http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/may04/interviews/petze.htm

New Tridium Vykon Energy Product http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/nov01/int/petze.htm

This article is from way back in the archives when John was still with Andover.  Ethernet is the information connectivity utility, and this makes Ethernet running TCP/IP the protocol to bet on for open systems going forward. http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/mar00/articles/andv/andv.htm

[an error occurred while processing this directive] A bit about John's background in our industry.

Graduated in 1978 from Worcester Polytech in Worcester MA, with a BS. He grew up during the energy crisis and wanted to go into energy conservation related technologies. His qualifying project for graduation was a design for a solar collector, and a business plan for the company to build and sell them. He started a small solar energy company and actually did a few successful installations before going into “real industry” as a manufacturing engineer. Started his career in HVAC-related fields as a design engineer, and eventually Operations Manager for the company that invented VAV (Mitco) in Somerville MA (they held the original patents and produced an all-mechanical, pressure independent VAV box as well as high efficiency, ultra-quiet VAV air handlers.) The design of the VAV box is today still the core concept used in the Phoenix Controls fume hood system. Mitco was a small company – 50 employees at its peak.

Next was his first tour of duty at Andover Controls starting in 1982. He was the company’s very first applications engineer (technical support). When he got there engineering was still answering customer phone calls. That became his job and he got exposed to everything you can imagine related to figuring out how to apply this very new microprocessor technology to energy management and equipment control. It was an unbelievable learning experience. After a few years he tested the waters on the system integrator side of the business by joining one of Andover’s largest customers – CommAir mechanical in CA. He was responsible for the entire controls operation for one of their branches and had a major role in what at that time was among the largest multi-site DDC projects ever attempted – 460 bank branches for Security Pacific Bank. Success with regions' branches got him the opportunity to design, program and manage the installation and commissioning of a 1M sq. ft. Security Pacific office building in downtown LA. That is where he experienced the sound a chiller makes when you cause it to shut down on safety – very exciting at 3 in the morning when you are very tired!!! The system was a great success and lead to the development of an advanced training program at Andover when he returned to lead their growing technical support operation based on the group he had originally lead.

After a few years at Andover he again went to a small start up – Teletrol Systems in Manchester NH. Teletrol was very special – just a couple of people like him that had been in the DDC industry and a small team of engineers that had not previous experience in that field. Together they conceived a system based on the very latest PC industry technology. In 1990 he had a system with both controllers and multi-user workstations operating an a high speed (250K) Ethernet-like network. They pioneered the use of a standard programming language – “C” – as opposed to yet another proprietary language, and had a programmable “open systems port” that allowed users to write their own drivers to other systems. One of the most significant features was that the main controller was built on a standard PC-compatible mother board. This allowed them to ride the curve of computer industry technology, offering power and price points no in-house designed CPU could match – not even the largest of the OEMs. They were big believers in open standards and Teletrol had some great successes including the Sydney Opera House, Euro-Disney Headquarters in Paris France and many others. It was a very cool system and way ahead of its time.

After 8 ½ years John again felt the need for a new challenge and left to start up an Internet-based business focused on serving the rapidly emerging LonWorks market. Solutions Direct (a Facility Robotics company) was based in Atlanta. The vision was to create an Internet-based supermarket for Lon-based equipment and software. They were on the market with a store and products from approx 20 companies (including an authorized distributorship from Echelon) by January 1997 in time for the ASHRAE shows. This was a very exciting venture but proved to be a little ahead of the curve. The most telling comment about the business was this: “Wow John this is a great idea. The industry really needs a company like this” To which he asked “So would you like to buy stuff from us?” Answer – well no, we don’t buy stuff that way yet, but it’s a great idea.”

After the Solutions Direct adventure which was again a tremendous learning experience, he had the chance to again join Andover Controls. It had been 9 years since his last duty there and he had the opportunity to serve in a number of roles, culminating as VP of Product Development, where he was responsible for Engineering, Support, marketing, training and their very successful Peripheral Products business (which he brought on-line!). He had a great team and it was great position. He became tied for the record as a three time repeat offender with Andover!!! There are only three with that distinction.

A few years later he met the folks at Tridium and immediately saw the significance of what they were doing. His experience in trying to bring open systems to the market had shown him that no one protocol would ever dominate the market (they all matter) and that software was the missing link to make open systems a reality. He was incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to join Tridium in 2000 and VP of Operations and Business Development. (Strange title you say? His explanation is that in the morning he came in to control chaos, and in the afternoon he went out to create it).

You all know a bit about the Tridium experience. Jerry Frank and the founders had a unique vision – a universal software framework to unify all types of different systems and protocols, and an open platform that partners could adapt to meet there unique product needs. Today there are over 50,000 instances of Niagara installed worldwide and Tridium’s partners include a wide range of innovative new companies and major OEM’s. Tridium has an incredible and dedicated team and it was an extremely rewarding experience for John.

Now you can see why our industry's loss is definitely www.privaris.com gain.

John, on behalf of the industry I thank you for your great contributions and wish you the very best in your new venture.


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