June 2012

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“What did I see from the Summit?”  

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The Niagara Summit  themed "Innovation (R)evolution" in Las Vegas was a mini Woodstock for the creative connection community, the newly found cloud collaborators, unconventional control contractors, super integrators, connection want-to-be’s, control propeller heads (those that talk about change and detail at a level that makes your head spin) and of course those just simply lost in transition all very much enjoying the event while moving ahead rapidly during a time of great change.

So, I have been to the Summit and back.  What did I see?

A clear vision of not only who we are now, but a vision of who we can be if we change in a changing world.

Consensus is a cancer that leads to compromise, concept collision creates change while forcing collaboration.

This band of mixed mission folks is moving the sleepy old building automation industry ahead with radical change.  It was great to see the "Wouldstock" taking the 'in dust' out of our industry.

The flower power was in the mature connection community created by the controllable openness of the Niagara Framework that allows each to have their own open system. How clever? They would have never made that transition without each unconventional control contractor/integrator thinking it was their proprietary system.  Absolutely Brilliant!  Now they can share apps, have specialized open standards drivers, have several competing visualization/analytic services for all to use while growing faster as a community than they could as individuals.  Whoops, we just discovered the true power of open.

What if we opened each embedded brand of Open?  Working out the logistics of how we get paid for our individual intellectual property is problematic but Amazon, Google, Apple have created quasi open that works. We need to examine these models to move ahead. I heard the word “Pay for view Graphics” mentioned at the summit, or of course you could follow the AutomatedBuilding.com model of giving it away to create a focused audience and then selling advertising to survive.

While we are discovering what open might mean in our industry our personal world is rapidly becoming very open and cloud based. Cloud computing to replace the personal computer as the ‘device’ of choice by 2014.  Phones, Tablets, i-gadgets and the push to simplify our life with the cloud has arrived, greatly changing our personal lives. We now have amazing apps that let us visualize and store our lives in several flavours of Android, Apple and others, all free or almost.  Incredible quantities of free data is available to the public such as maps, navigation aids, and even building floor plans with built in GPS position. How do we connect our business lives to these connection communities?

The feel good atmosphere of the event of over 1250 had me reconnecting with many folks I had not seen in the industry for several years, a true meeting of industry minds that ushered us all toward Opening Open.  Several folks were there as observers of what a mature connection community like Niagara might look like, but more to understand and analyze how they might best learn to leverage what has been learned here.  Several folks are looking at new models of this connection community to see how to do all that has been learned and put into a cloud model.

Of course Tridium's loss is some folks Found-ry and the cloud always has a silver lining.  Brian Frank is the founder of SkyFoundry and software architect of the SkySpark software platform. Previously, Brian was co-founder of Tridium and lead architect of the Niagara Framework. He is active in the development of open source initiatives for programming languages and protocols including: oBIX, Fantom, Sedona, and Project-Haystack.

Skyfoundry's new connection community has created SkySpark which works with data of all types: live links to automation systems and smart meters, connections to SQL databases, static CSV files, or web service feeds.

I was extremely pleased to hear from the keynote speaker John Sublett, Chief Technology Officer, Tridium that a new, softer, opener, cloud friendly version of the Niagara framework numbered 4 is coming.  Although the existing Niagara framework "Frank"ness was successfully built with brotherly love we feel that John has an excellent opportunity to soften the edges of the framework and blur the lines between the cloud and its data while redefining open. I was very pleased that Tridium has heard the footsteps of evolving connection communities and has accepted the challenge to again lead in Opening Open.  John has promised to provide us an article in the near future about his challenge.  We look forward to it, and now have it documented here (smile).

Open 4 Beers

In our summit session about "It is all about Open" John, Anno, Paul and I cracked a few. Paul tells in his column this month the true global user open interface is a twist cap, be sure to read

He also gave me a jab "Ken Sinclair has often used his position of the Automated Buildings website (and as the previous author of this column) to promote the use of open systems, often pushing for openness well beyond what is available in the industry today."

This remark prompted me to get on my Don Quixote plow horse, wildly swing my rusty sword in mid-air and write something about Opening Open, but I never let the facts get in my way. 

BTW my “position” in AutomatedBuildings.com was born from necessity, as no one would publish my narrow minded unsubstantiated collision content which was not peer reviewed that were riddled with bad plays on words.  So Jane and I were forced to invent AutomatedBuildings.com.  As Editor I often talked to myself but finally came to the realization that I must promote myself to the Publisher to say what needed to be said.  With all my advertisers holding an equal share in advertising no one advertiser could vote me off my own virtual soap box.

The Visualization Team

I was given the opportunity to interview a team of vendor neutral virtual visualization experts.  They had never worked together as a team before but they provided amazing insight with their cross platform expertise on how to decouple the visualization/productivity piece from traditional vendor hardware.  The skinny on what I learned is that Visualization and productive tools will follow the data into the clouds. We will use all available tools to depict and generate a virtual anywhereness touch and feel.  We will leverage all available existing web visualization and interaction resources. Great insight!  A special thanks to ....Scott Muench, J2 Innovations, Eugene Mazo, DGLogik, and Chad Mesenbrink, QA Graphics.  Sarah Erdman, QA Graphics has written an article this month explaining more.

Alper of www.basgraphics.com has also had much input into the decoupling of virtualization, productivity and analytic tools and introduced several new products at the summit.

The rapid evolution of the visualization piece is important for us all to understand.  Graphics that were very vendor centric evolved to super integrator/campus centric with open platforms like Niagara.  They will now follow the data into the cloud and become a web visualization/productive/analytic web services (think of investment stock and bond analytic tools).

In the keynote address by Steve Fey, Tridium CEO at the 2012 Niagara summit, he showed us some staggering statistics indicating that not only are regular PC sales stagnating but they are being outstripped by tablets such as the iPad and blatantly left behind by smartphones, which are the mobile computer of today and certainly tomorrow. Read this month's article It's time we re-connected with our users.

In this news release Marc talks about the newest that came to the event

Richmond, Virginia May 14, 2012 - Twenty five new products and applications built with or integrate to the Niagara and Sedona Frameworks made their debut at the 2012 Niagara Summit that took place April 29-May 2, 2012 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. 

The variety of products and applications ranged from analytic and graphic applications, to energy and lighting, to security applications and new controllers with expanded capabilities.

"It is truly exciting to see the breadth and scope of these new products and applications and the level in which Niagara is extended further with these offerings said Marc Petock, vice president, global marketing and communications, Tridium.  "These products and applications demonstrate how our two Frameworks are ideal platforms that can be built on instead of having to build them from scratch".

Hmmm that reminds me that I forgot about the other framework Sedona - the Red Rock should have helped me remember.

As you can see from above release several products are starting to come with Sedona chips.  I also heard of others that did not make show time. BTW Sedona Framework components easily integrate with the Niagara AX component architecture.

In presenting the awards, Marc Petock, vice president, global marketing & communications for Tridium, congratulated the winners and thanked them for their outstanding contribution to the Niagara community.  "A community is important and cannot be created by one individual. It takes many to develop, nurture and grow a thriving community. Nowhere is this more evident than within the Niagara Community. We are delighted to recognize this group of individuals who constantly get involved and stay involved".

Tridium Honors Niagara Community at 2012 Niagara Summit with Inaugural Niagara Spirit Award  Selected by a group of their peers, the award winners are individuals embracing Niagara and are active within the Niagara Community. Individuals come from all parts of the global community....OEMs, integrators, contractors, consultants, end users, distributors, developers, etc.

Control Solutions, Inc My Grumbles

Of course in all the warm feelings for the event I have to grumble, I am a grumpy old man. Here are some of my concerns.

Vendor open versus real open, needs to be addressed. We all know how it happened with the evolution of the Niagara Framework, but you do not want to talk to your client about two kinds of open.....trust me on this.

Oh you want open open?  Is there an echo in here?  Sophisticated owners and integration consultants will roast you on this.

Next grrrr.  Dilbert driven PR that creates glossy paper brochures in convention bags, to sell deep web integration and visualization products? .....You are kidding right?  Who are these people?  The medium is the message use it.  The web is multidimensional use it.  Kill an old papersauris PR person today and stop the generation of brand new environmental waste from these environmental terrorists. How much stuff in your bag did you trash in your room? How much did you take back to trash in your office?  How much of this stuff is dumped into you and your clients’ life. Recycling does not solve the problem it just allows us to feel better about the mistakes we made with waste we have created.  Be the Change We Seek —Gandhi.   Demonstrate the change do not proliferate sameness. If we are to convince our clients that we are the ones to help them reduce their energy and environmental foot print we must start to change our attitudes and actions.  End of Rant!

BTW I loved the online agenda  http://www.eventmobi.com/ns12/  "brilliant" that is what I am talking about.  This is where you want to advertise and link or with online pull not push media.

What else did I love about the event? Some of the youngest people I have seen in the industry.   Not that they were that young but compared to the norm at these events they were.  Also they were excited about the power they understand they now have and will have just as soon as they tip a few of us old dinosaurs out of the way.  I want each of you to draw a kid that creates online games into your next “How Must We Change to Survive Meeting.”  These kids know no other way than the cloud of doing business; you can learn lots from them.

By The Way left over from my rant in the open session, a note to “In Dust” in our industry - get at replacing that 1980 DDC stuff - just because you can see it in the cloud does not make it cloud friendly. Your total performance is judged by the speed and anywhereness of your real time data visualization.

Or maybe we can add this message to your visualization. This data is generated from a 30 year old DDC system of unsure accuracy that no one really understands…..(smile)

I am rambling now; Niagara Summit was a great event.

Thanks for inviting me to your hill, the view was great! I love your community, please keep your minds focused on Opening Open.



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