COLUMN – Humanizing Your Cloud
February 11, 2013 - Your cloud provides a lofty anywhere, any device, view of you and your corporate’s connected services. We need to humanize its interaction reflecting our expertise and connections to reality. We all need to talk about how we plan to meet and interact in the cloud. Our combined expertise in getting data ready is the value we bring the cold heartless data cloud. We need to customize and humanize our corner of the cloud for our purposes, bonding our fragmented industry into a presentation model the world can use.
By Ken Sinclair
Interface and interaction must be simple, powerful, and app like, tuned closely to our individual requirements. Think like the early days of internet when we were all trying to get our head around a virtual projection of ourselves and our companies on a web site. Many say the cloud and its mobile connections with – bring your own device – have created a rebirth of the internet. What will your new cloud child look like?
I just returned from a very successful AHR Expo in Dallas, Texas, where much of the focus of most products on the exhibition floor was leveraged on the cloud. Apps were everywhere, and new products built on web services where challenging traditional thinking and hard devices. The “New ERA” we welcomed you to last month was well depicted. This is going to be a year of exciting change. A lot of what we have been talking about in our magazine for the last 14 years has actually happened in the last few years and even months. Please read our quick review of this event.
The cloud is our new medium in this interview Will talks of its penetration.
Trends in Intelligent Buildings 2013 – William Rhodes, IHS/IMS Research
Sinclair: Will cloud continue to be a hot topic in 2013?
Rhodes: The market for building analytics is still in the very early stages of development. However, the increasing use of cloud computing in conjunction with big data could change the tide for building analytics vendors in 2013. Buildings produce a lot of data; by using cloud computing the building data across an entire portfolio of buildings can be aggregated. This enables the initial install and on-going management of the building analytics to be centrally managed. The roll out of building analytics over a portfolio can be as fast as it takes to install the software into a server in a single building. This would also represent a further step towards the IT industry becoming more integrated with the building automation industry.
Sinclair: Historically, large buildings have always been the cornerstone of the intelligent buildings market. Will 2013 be a turning point for intelligent systems in small buildings?
Rhodes: A key barrier for smaller buildings using intelligent building systems, controls, and value added services such as building analytics and remote monitoring, has been the cost relative to the potential return on investment. Cloud solutions could hold the answer. A cloud based control solution allows the user to integrate separate systems within the building including: air-conditioning units, lighting control, video surveillance, and access control; for minimal upfront cost. An on-going fee is charged but allows smaller building owners to pick and choose the services they require and can afford. We anticipate cloud solutions (amongst other drivers such as carbon taxes, rising cost of energy and reducing operational overheads) will facilitate an increase in installations of intelligent solutions in small building in 2013.
Sinclair: Any other trends we should be looking out for in 2013?
Rhodes: We predict improving the end user experience will be a priority for the building automation industry in 2013. This trend is being driven by end user expectation. End users now expect the same quality of graphics and user interface they have in their smart phones and tablets. The gamification and photorealism of graphics used in building automation systems is the industry’s response. This development in graphics enhances the feature set of the building automation system, and is aimed to better address the requirements of end users.
This interview Trends for our Industry added this perspective – Where to begin? I’ll touch briefly on a few. Apps, Apps and More Apps, Device Level, Cyber threats, User Experience, Data, Analytics, Open and Coming Together. – Marc Petock, Lynxspring
Sinclair: What do you see as some of the trends for our industry this year?
Petock: Where to begin? I’ll touch briefly on a few.
• Apps, Apps and More Apps—The development of Apps will continue at a fast pace and further drive the value creation for BAS. Value creation will not only come from the apps themselves but through their integration with one another.
• Device Level—The lines of middleware are disappearing. Not only are we moving up in the enterprise and to the cloud, but at the same time, the device level is getting deeper and wider. Devices need to be smarter, more intelligent.
• Cyber threats—Cyber threats within the building automation environment are becoming more frequent and increasingly sophisticated, and we are now at a point where we have legitimate and reasonable concern.
• User Experience—The one size fits all is going away. Today, it’s about the individual and his/her specific experience, needs and requirements.
• Data—We hear a lot about it and will continue to do so. The advances of the last decade have enabled us to get the data. The new challenge is how to turn that data into value — how to extract actionable insights from the data. To get to that end goal, we need to understand the meaning of the data. For example, we need to know whether a value of 55.7 refers to degrees F or KW before we can understand what it means to the operation of our systems. This is a simple example of course, but having a standardized approach to capture and represent the Meta data (descriptive data) associated with all of our devices and systems is critical to being able to use that data to our advantage. With this Meta data, we can consolidate it, optimize it then parse it turning it into useful information and returns.
• Analytics—It is not about whether to make use of them or not. I think we all know the answer to that. It’s more about how to use them in real time.
• Open—While more manufacturers are slowly catching up to the realities of an open approach, many still have a ways to go yet. Hopefully, they are seeing the light and will step up their efforts to embrace this approach.
• Coming Together—On the end user side, our technology and solutions decisions are not being driven just by the facility folks; they are being driven by the facilities, IT, and energy departments and even the finance people. Together they are demanding more value and are looking to leverage technology to gain a competitive edge in their business.
This interview talks about using the cloud to gather information for new products for the cloud.
Legacy Building Automation Systems Integration to the Cloud – Steve Jones, The S4 Group
Jones: It looks like the cloud is opening up another product direction for us. Cloud based services are clearly gaining traction which in turn means that there needs to be a method to collect the necessary data from buildings. Strategically, from the start of our product development efforts we decided to position our products as enabling technology and leave it up to other experts to provide the industry specific applications and services. This revalidates that strategy and opens the door for a new set of partnerships and possibly some new connection communities.
Sinclair: You mentioned that this was the first time that you had started this kind of discussion on LinkedIn. Would you do it again?
Jones: Without a doubt. We got the answers we were looking for quickly and in a well-organized manner. I don’t think we would ever exclusively use one social media service but we definitely will be staying involved with the AutomatedBuildings LinkedIn Group.
In our rapid evolution and the journey through the “New ERA” we all need to learn how to Humanize the Cloud.