December 2011

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Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Steve Jones

EMAIL INTERVIEW - Steve Jones and Ken Sinclair

Steve Jones, Founder and Managing Partner
The S4 Group Inc

10 years development in the building automation integration arena

2012 is a special year to The S4 Group Inc. it marks 10 years of innovative product development in the building automation integration arena.  The company was founded with the mission to create technology that opens up historically proprietary environments, extending their useful life, and enhancing their functionality through the addition of open technologies.

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Sinclair:  Steve, what does 2012 hold for The S4 Group?

Jones2012 is going to be a very special year for The S4 Group.  It is our 10 year anniversary and we are taking what we have learned about customers’ needs and wants from their building automation systems and enhancing our products to help them realize their expectations. The trend towards convergence of traditional BAS technologies with industrial automation and process control technologies is accelerating. You’ll see a number of our products accommodating this convergence.

Sinclair:  How do you feel about reaching the 10 year mark and how are you using that information to make better products?

JonesWe are proud of the fact that The S4Group has always taken customer input and requests into consideration when designing the next iteration of S4 Open Products. That’s not about to change. One of the things that will change is the speed at which we can introduce new products because of the solid framework around which we have developed our current products.

Sinclair:  Do you have some specific examples?

JonesThe New Year will usher in new products that take the company beyond the phase of having primarily a MetasysŪ integration product focus. New products will continue in the open technology mission the company has embraced since its inception.

Sinclair:   In addition to enhancing your standard products, are you designing/releasing products that address new technology?

JonesWe will reach another major milestone with the release of the S4 Open: BACnet – EnOcean gateway which marks a major investment into wireless building technology and an application of our expertise to leading edge BAS technology instead of our historic focus on legacy systems. It also makes us a player in the new building construction marketplace as well as the legacy building retrofit and upgrade area where we have always been a strong niche player.

Sinclair:   How did you enter this new arena?

JonesIn order to lay the foundation for this product we have been very active in the EnOcean Alliance, BACnet International, and the BACnet Wireless Working Group helping to define the relationships between BACnet and wireless protocols.

Sinclair:  Did you participate in the AHR Expo last month or at other meetings/tradeshows to showcase this new product?

JonesWe participated in the activities at the EnOcean Alliance booth where we met with many building owners and integrators to confirm that the momentum around the EnOcean technology continues to expand rapidly.  As the technology  becomes widely adopted, the need for enterprise integration becomes critical.

Sinclair:  Sounds great Steve, what other development efforts has The S4Group been involved with?

JonesAs the company continues with development and support for the current technology we are planning to release major revisions to Obermeier Software’s OPC server and agent products which will introduce support for MODBUS, PROFInet and PROFIbus. We are also offering BACnet servers for each of these protocols as well as for OPC and SNMP. Testing for these new products is already underway and we are seeing good initial results. The code behind these new protocol implementations conforms to the protocol plug-in specification developed for our S4 Open appliances. This means that our promise of interoperability of protocol plug-ins between our S4 Open appliances and the Obermeier Software products is now a reality.

Sinclair:  Great news Steve, You talked about making enhancements based on customer input, what if any enhancements are being planned for your S4 Open Products in 2012?

JonesMajor enhancements will continue to be made to the S4 Open Appliances. The most significant will be the ability for each N2 Device to be published as its own virtual BACnet device. This feature is being tested in the BACnet servers mentioned above and will rapidly migrate into the BACnet-N2 Router. Other significant enhancements in the works include the ability to run MetasysŪ configuration and commissioning utilities in “passthrough” mode from any Windows PC on your network.

Sinclair:  Sounds like a busy year ahead for the S4 Group; do you have any last words about the direction or goals for the new year?

JonesAs The S4Group, Inc. enters its 10th year of operations; it will expand its leadership role in the industry and increase visibility in industry publications, associations, and standards groups. You’ll see an increased emphasis on quality assurance and multiple initiatives to make sure that we effectively reach out to our Integration Partners, Distributers, and their customers to make sure that we build upon the success we have seen these last 10 years.

Sinclair:  Thank you for your time, I look forward to watching your progress and growth in the new year.

JonesThank you Ken, always a pleasure talking with you.


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