May 2018

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Niagara Summit 2018

 - Playing All the Right Notes

Therese SullivanTherese Sullivan,
BuildingContext Ltd

Contributing Editor

Playing all the right notes

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Tridium showed the Niagara community what it means to be the leader of the band at Niagara Summit ‘18 in New Orleans. The band and community just keep growing as Niagara gains fans among those seeking open connectivity for systems and devices. Over 1000 Niagara developers, programmers, building engineers, end users, and executives were gathered, many of them present in Champions Square in front of the Superdome on the evening of the Welcoming Reception where Gareth Johnson, Tridium Software Architect, and Eric Clapton-sound-alike, played a JACE-shaped guitar with Logan Byam, Niagara Framework UI developer, accompanying. It was a fitting start to an event that reinvigorated Tridium’s reputation for technological innovation and sought to inspire users to deploy the Niagara framework as an instrument of creativity.

In his keynote, Jim Bland, Tridium CEO & General Manager, pointed out that people that know how to spin value out of data using the Niagara framework are at a moment of limitless possibilities. Comparing all the diverse data sources in a big building or enterprise portfolio to random musicians without a leader, he challenged systems integrators to deploy Niagara like a conductor’s baton bringing them together as a symphony. Citing that the Developer Bootcamp attracted over 350 systems integrators and other members of the Niagara Community, he was not underestimating interest in developing on top of the Niagara Framework. On Tridium’s part, Bland promised the Niagara Framework would remain the most open and innovative platform for this work.

Jim Bland

Kevin Smith

Taking the figurative baton from Bland, CTO Kevin Smith said "Buildings are a key part of the revenue generating opportunity for businesses. We need to think about new possibilities that mobile brings." He then went on to outline all the ways Tridium developers were evolving the Niagara framework for this mobile era in computing—introducing the Edge 10 stack, launching Niagara Cloud products like Backup-as-a-Service, enabling enterprise-level device management, hardening security at every point of potential vulnerability. Smith also touted Tridium’s support for semantic interoperability and welcomed the ASHRAE news about  BACnet, Haystack and Brick collaboration.  The next Niagara release will support exposing Haystack tags via the Haystack REST API to streamline tag-enabling Niagara data as part of integration projects.

Kevin Smith 

Since the first Niagara Summit in 2004, this has been the event where people who are vested in competing ways to connect systems and devices come together to hash things out. This year was no different. Both the expo floor and the breakout sessions were filled with lively discussion. Jim Young, co-founder, and CEO of Realcomm was a featured speaker on the future of smart buildings.  Scott Cochrane, President, and CEO of Cochrane Supply and Engineering hosted a panel discussion on the evolving role of the Master Systems Integrator (MSI). In another session, Cochrane, along with Wayne Tighe of Optigo Networks, Richard Warner of O&M Engineering and Brian Turner of OTI  debated whether OT and IT should be converged onto the same network in a smart building. This panel discussion was led by Marc Petock of Lynxspring. Sessions about metadata tagging led by John Petze of the Haystack Organization were standing-room-only with lots of questions, evidence of the growing appreciation for the benefits of a naming hierarchy and tagging plan among the Niagara community.


Niagara end-user customers presented case studies during the break-out sessions too. George Thomas, Enterprise Building Automation Manager, Cleveland Clinic, spoke about his experience deploying analytics with assists from Jerry Gray of Enterprise Controls Group and John Petze of SkyFoundry. “‘Do no harm,’ extends to buildings too,” explains Thomas about the Clinic’s philosophy around operational technology. “Analytics are a therapeutic investment too." His management understands that building performance impacts health outcomes, so they have been proactive about acting on the insight provided by data analytics like fault detection and diagnostics for building equipment. There was also a session on working with the Federal Government and agencies that delved into how Niagara meets security and asset management requirements. Representing the Department of Energy (DOE), Paul Ehrlich presented on the test bed capabilities that Niagara-framework developers have available through the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL).

There were plenty of learning opportunities about new and upcoming products and features in the Niagara suite led by Tridium engineers, as well. With this summit, Niagara organizers and presenters reaffirmed Tridium’s unique position in the industry as a developer of an open framework and partner to many international manufacturers and other software companies in buildings and beyond. While it is an entity of Honeywell International Inc., Tridium has a strong team operating with independence.  You can find many of the presentations given during the event here.


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