July 2012
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“What did I see from the Summit?”

Opening Open!

Ken Sinclair,
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The Niagara Summit themed "Innovation (R)evolution" in Las Vegas, Nev., was a mini Woodstock for the creative connection community, the newly found cloud collaborators, unconventional control contractors, super integrators, connection want-to-be’s, control propeller heads (those that talk about change and detail at a level that makes your head spin) and of course those just simply lost in transition all very much enjoying the event, while moving ahead rapidly during a time of great change.

So, I have been to the Summit and back. What did I see?

A clear vision of not only who we are now, but a vision of who we can be if we change in a changing world.

Consensus is a cancer that leads to compromise; concept collision creates change while forcing collaboration.

This band of mixed mission folks is moving the sleepy old building automation industry ahead with radical change. It was great to see the "Wouldstock" taking the 'in dust' out of our industry.

The flower power was in the mature connection community created by the controllable openness of the Niagara Framework that allows each to have their own open system. How clever? They would have never made that transition without each unconventional control contractor/integrator thinking it was their proprietary system. Absolutely Brilliant! Now they can share apps, have specialized open standards drivers, have several competing visualization/analytic services for all to use while growing faster as a community than they could as individuals. Whoops, we just discovered the true power of open.

What if we opened each embedded brand of Open? Working out the logistics of how we get paid for our individual intellectual property is problematic but Amazon, Google, Apple have created quasi open that works. We need to examine these models to move ahead. I heard the word “Pay for view Graphics” mentioned at the summit, or of course you could follow the AutomatedBuilding.com model of giving it away to create a focused audience and then selling advertising to survive.

While we are discovering what open might mean in our industry our personal world is rapidly becoming very open and cloud based. Cloud computing to replace the personal computer as the ‘device’ of choice by 2014.

Phones, Tablets, i-gadgets and the push to simplify our life with the cloud has arrived, greatly changing our personal lives. We now have amazing apps that let us visualize and store our lives in several flavours of Android, Apple and others, all free or almost. Incredible quantities of free data is available to the public such as maps, navigation aids, and even building floor plans with built in GPS position. How do we connect our business lives to these connection communities?

The feel good atmosphere of the event of over 1250 had me reconnecting with many folks I had not seen in the industry for several years, a true meeting of industry minds that ushered us all toward Opening Open. Several folks were there as observers of what a mature connection community like Niagara might look like, but more to understand and analyze how they might best learn to leverage what has been learned here. Several folks are looking at new models of this connection community to see how to do all that has been learned and put into a cloud model.

Of course Tridium's loss is some folks Found-ry and the cloud always has a silver lining. Brian Frank is the founder of SkyFoundry and software architect of the SkySpark software platform. Previously, Brian was co-founder of Tridium and lead architect of the Niagara Framework. He is active in the development of open source initiatives for programming languages and protocols including: oBIX, Fantom, Sedona, and Project-Haystack.

Skyfoundry's new connection community has created SkySpark which works with data of all types: live links to automation systems and smart meters, connections to SQL databases, static CSV files, or web service feeds.

I was extremely pleased to hear from the keynote speaker John Sublett, Chief Technology Officer, Tridium that a new, softer, opener, cloud friendly version of the Niagara framework numbered 4 is coming. Although the existing Niagara framework "Frank"ness was successfully built with brotherly love we feel that John has an excellent opportunity to soften the edges of the framework and blur the lines between the cloud and its data while redefining open. I was very pleased that Tridium has heard the footsteps of evolving connection communities and has accepted the challenge to again lead in Opening Open. John has promised to provide us an article in the near future about his challenge. We look forward to it, and now have it documented here (smile).

Open 4 Beers

In our summit session about "It is all about Open" John, Anno, Paul and I cracked a few. Paul tells in his column this month the true global user open interface is a twist cap, be sure to read.

He also gave me a wake up call "Ken Sinclair has often used his position of the Automated Buildings website (and as the previous author of this column) to promote the use of open systems, often pushing for openness well beyond what is available in the industry today."

This remark prompted me to get on my Don Quixote plow horse, wildly swing my rusty sword in mid-air and write something about Opening Open, but I never let the facts get in my way.
BTW my “position” in AutomatedBuildings.com was born from necessity, as no one would publish my narrow minded unsubstantiated collision content which was not peer reviewed that were riddled with bad plays on words. So Jane and I were forced to invent AutomatedBuildings.com. As Editor I often talked to myself but finally came to the realization that I must promote myself to the Publisher to say what needed to be said. With all my advertisers holding an equal share in advertising no one advertiser could vote me off my own virtual soap box.

The Visualization Team

Control Solutions, Inc I was given the opportunity to interview a team of vendor neutral virtual visualization experts. They had never worked together as a team before but they provided amazing insight with their cross platform expertise on how to decouple the visualization/productivity piece from traditional vendor hardware. The skinny on what I learned is that Visualization and productive tools will follow the data into the clouds. We will use all available tools to depict and generate a virtual anywhereness touch and feel. We will leverage all available existing web -  Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.comvisualization and interaction resources. Great insight! A special thanks to... Scott Muench, J2 Innovations, Eugene Mazo, DGLogik, and Chad Mesenbrink, QA Graphics. Sarah Erdman, QA Graphics has written an article this month explaining more.

Alper of www.basgraphics.com has also had much input into the decoupling of virtualization, productivity and analytic tools and introduced several new products at the summit.

The rapid evolution of the visualization piece is important for us all to understand. Graphics that were very vendor centric evolved to super integrator/campus centric with open platforms like Niagara. They will now follow the data into the cloud and become a web visualization/productive/analytic web services (think of investment stock and bond analytic tools).

In the keynote address by Steve Fey, Tridium CEO at the 2012 Niagara summit, he showed us some staggering statistics indicating that not only are regular PC sales stagnating but they are being outstripped by tablets such as the iPad and blatantly left behind by smartphones, which are the mobile computer of today and certainly tomorrow. Read this month's article: "It's time we re-connected with our users".

CLICK HERE for the news release where Marc talks about the newest that came to the event.

Richmond, Virginia May 14, 2012 - Twenty five new products and applications built with or integrate to the Niagara and Sedona Frameworks made their debut at the 2012 Niagara Summit that took place April 29-May 2, 2012 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.

The view was great from the summit! I love the community; let’s all keep focused on Opening Open.


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