June 2008

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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Anno ScholtenEMAIL INTERVIEW  Anno Scholten & Ken Sinclair

 Anno Scholten, Novus Edge

Anno Scholten has more than 25 years experience in the controls, security and building automation industries. Before joining NovusEdge, Mr. Scholten was CTO for Plexus Technology, Inc. where he was responsible for market development of Plexus’ web based solution for building automation systems. Prior to that, he was VP of Engineering for CSI Control Systems (now TAC), a worldwide building automation system provider. As an innovator and thought leader in the industry, Mr. Scholten has also served on many key industry standards committees and holds a US patent on a VAV Controller Using Fuzzy Logic.

Open Source for Open Systems – Follow up to ConnectivityWeek

I would like to start a community called OpenLynx where I would like to bring these and several other open source initiatives together to discuss how we can all collaborate on a common goal for our industry.

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Sinclair:  How many people turned up to your “Open Source for Open Systems” roundtable you held at ConnectivityWeek in Santa Clara last week?

Scholten: For last minute announcement and organization, I was very surprised at the numbers and level of participation at the meeting.  There were more than 25 people who participated representing a wide spread of our industry from control system manufacturers, system integrators, technology providers, IT to end users.  We also had several global representatives including people from Canada, Spain and South Africa.

Sinclair:  Could you refresh me about the basics of an Open Source project?

Scholten:  Sure.  In fact, there is a very good web site focused on Open Source Initiatives (http://www.opensource.org/) that provides an excellent description as follows; “Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.”

Sinclair: How would that apply to our industry and your project?

Scholten:  I believe that we need to harness the development resources in our industry around the world into a common community that would be able to develop enterprise applications to provide services and not just features for building automation systems.  To allow these independent developers to create these applications, they need an open source platform on which to develop.  Open source means that no one person or organization owns the base platform technology.  Individuals can own and sell the applications they develop, but the platform can not be acquired by a predatory organization.

Sinclair:  What do you mean by ‘services’?

Scholten:  One of the participants at the roundtable described it the best.  He said that IT and enterprise views building automation systems as plumbing and us as plumbers.  Although useful, they don’t see value in the products we provide per se because they cannot easily extract service oriented information from these systems without having to talk to the ‘plumbers’.  He further said that for BAS to be recognized as valuable to the enterprise and IT we need to start behaving like enterprise and IT and not like plumbers.  Just providing a list of data points and their values or simple scheduling interfaces looks more like plumbing.  Therefore, we need an open source middleware platform that allows new, smart young engineers to develop services for BAS in the context that is valuable for IT and the enterprise.

Reliable Controls Sinclair:  What came out of the roundtable?

Scholten:  The most interesting thing for me was how many people were already working on Open Source initiatives in our industry.

Sinclair:  Can you share some of these names?

Scholten:  Yes.  Mango (http://mango.serotoninsoftware.com/home.jsp) by Serotonin Software in Canada has an open source project aimed at the M2M industry that includes BAS.  Abiquo (http://www.abiquo.com) from Barcelona has a very interesting project underway.  CePORT (http://www.ceportbsp.com), although not an open source platform per se is based on an open source development process.  CoreTalk (http://www.coretalk.net) has some excellent technology called CubiCon that I think will make some interesting changes to our industry.  They also have some good perspectives on “open design” which embraces open source in a context that manages individual IP ownership.  And Peter Michalek has developed a very interesting oBIX Server based on an open source initiative. (http://groups.google.com/group/obix-developers/browse_thread/thread/b9e782ad007505ea).

Sinclair:  What are your next steps for Open Source for Open Systems?

Scholten:  I would like to start a community called OpenLynx where I would like to bring these and several other open source initiatives together to discuss how we can all collaborate on a common goal for our industry.  I’ll setup a social network for OpenLynx in the next few weeks.

Sinclair:  Please keep us up to date on your progress with OpenLynx.

Scholten:  Absolutely, Ken



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