September 2009

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Building Cloud Connections
The identification and use of these valuable industry cloud connectors is essential to propel our industry forward at warp speed so it can radically change to survive.

  Ken Sinclair,

Energy Management Canada

When we started we joked that our purpose was to "join the dots" of our Building Automation industry...the dot coms, the dot org etc . Eleven years later all these connected dots to our web site have led to the new focus of building cloud connections. 

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From last month's column this definition; The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the Internet, based on how the Internet is depicted in computer network diagrams and is an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it conceals.

The cloud contains Software as a Service (SaaS, typically pronounced 'sass'). Our new mission is to expose how the dot com & org are using the cloud to provide their products and services. The identification and use of these valuable industry cloud connectors is essential to propel our industry forward at warp speed so it can radically change to survive.

A must read is my August interview with Rick Huijbregts of Cisco

Building Automation and the Cloud

The Cisco Network Building Mediator not only provides the technical "glue" between the facilities and IT world; but it helps enable the convergence of industries.   

Sinclair:  Rick, in the past we all joked in the industry about a “sky hook” as the whimsical structural bracing point for building construction objects. Cisco’s new building automation Cloud Connector provides a real solution to connect our industry’s real time data to the enterprise. Tell us your vision of how significant this “new age sky hook” is and how it transforms our industry from integrated islands to connected real estate. 

Huijbregts:  Ken, it is happening already and Cisco is gearing up to take this market by storm. With the acquisition of Richards-Zeta we are re-living the mid-80s -- history is repeating itself. Back then, Cisco started with the creation of the first multi-protocol router that made interoperability between disparate and proprietary computer systems possible. The network was born and has proven to become the universal platform for business and technology transformation. Truly, it has changed the way we work, live, play and learn. After enabling data to flow more freely between remote and disparate computer systems, we converged voice (and have become the world leader in business telephony) and then video. With the new Cisco® Network Building Mediator we are taking it to the next level to enable the Internet of Things. Now, billions of sensors, controllers, actuators etc. can be added to the Network as the platform for the transformation of life experiences. Sound big? It is. Cisco recently announced its Smart + Connected Communities vision of which our Smart Connected Building technologies (including Cisco Network Building Mediator) are a key component. 

Read more on our Smart + Connected Communities at:

Adding the Cisco Network Building Mediator to a Cisco network provides an instant opportunity for open access and communication to all the building, security and IT systems connected to the Network. Having the Building Mediator be part of the Network is a very powerful asset in our solution. It now shares the usual features of a Cisco network that is resilient, redundant and highly secured. The whole principle behind this is to move shared functionality to a common platform as opposed to repeating it amongst siloed and proprietary networks.  The Mediator is not a piece of middleware software sitting on a server, but is part of the technology infrastructure or fourth utility in your building. This makes our platform architecture very powerful: open, flexible and future-ready. It will help drive down costs and add business opportunities to the building world as never seen before.  

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Now, the Cloud for the real estate industry has become real. As we see applications and services move 'off-site' and offered and provided by hosted service providers (SAAS or Software as a Service), you can start to imagine the opportunities for managing real estate, reducing energy and providing value-added applications to the users of buildings. Mind you, we never really built buildings for the sake of building them. We need buildings to live, learn, work and play. And that should drive how our physical and virtual environments behave (not the other way around). Converging the performance of our physical and virtual environments will allow us to match or organically and effectively start to address the real needs of users of these environments. The Network and the Cloud will allow the building industry to become more services-oriented instead of product or building oriented. Your building and its capabilities have become like an iPhone, and there is an open invitation to provide applications and services that can be pushed out to every standing structure in the world. It is happening already: ADR (Demand Response), remote building services and operations, energy monitoring and modeling (e.g. carbon calculations, trading), data mining and benchmarking. 

Coming back to your question: how significant is this "new age sky hook"? we believe it is the beginning of the transformation of one of the last industries standing that has resisted the adaptation of technology to re-invent, innovate and improve itself. The Network is and has proven to be the common platform to make this transformation happen.

Also be sure to read, listen, and watch the series developed and produced by BusinessWeek sponsored by Cisco and streamed on WebEx launch from this interview IntelligentBuildings® and BusinessWeek with Tom Shircliff & Rob Murchison

There is so much information and even hype out there that BusinessWeek wanted to get some higher level clarity on smart/intelligent/green/high performance buildings. Some of your readers may find it basic in nature but we think this kind of message needs to get out more - just like you and others are continuously doing by volunteering to speak or moderate at the conferences, write for publications, do interviews etc. I think you have called it “outreach and education”.


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