February 2013


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Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Marc Petock

Marc Petock and Ken Sinclair

Marc Petock, Vice President, Marketing, Lynxspring

It has been awhile since I have had an opportunity to sit down with Marc Petock, one of our industry leaders and an active spokesperson. While at AHR 2013 we visited for a few minutes. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Trends for our Industry

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.

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Sinclair: It has been sometime since we last talked. You are now at Lynxspring. Tell me about it.

Petock: I am very excited to be at this dynamic organization. As Vice President, Marketing, my position allows me to not only continue to be involved in supporting the technology side, but also creates the opportunity to get involved with end-to-end solutions that are directly for end customers. It also enables me to work with a leading company that is realizing the full value of open platforms and connected communities, which as you know, I am very passionate about.

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.

Sinclair: You mentioned Cyber Security. How about elaborating more on this?

Petock: Cyber threats remain one of the most dynamic issues within the building automation industry today. Security isn’t just for IT departments. While network security is well within the realm of IT departments, it is all of our responsibility to take an active role. I believe it is not just the responsibility of one group, but rather it is all of us in this industry. Technology providers need to incorporate security features and functions into their technology and be pro-active when a vulnerability is discovered; system integrators by way of best practices, should secure their installations using IT security practices and end users should demand and insist on protection from cyber threats.

Control Solutions, Inc Sinclair: At the show I noticed you had several new offerings. Tell me more about them.

Petock: Yes we did. We announced the expansion of our Professional Services Group.  This group provides a portfolio of services based on Niagara AX  and related Web Service technologies including Strategic Advisory and Deployment Services, System Configuration and Design, Field Commissioning, Application Development and Engineering, Dashboard and UI Design, and Driver Development.

We demonstrated JENEsys Harmony™ which automates the integration of BACnet and LonWorks control devices into a JENE-PC series controller via templates for consistent, repeatable, and accurate results. This reduces project labor costs associated with commissioning and engineering complexity, multi-vendor, and legacy devices.

We introduced a new Niagara based Open ADR 2.0a driver we developed with IPKeys Technologies and Connexx Energy.

And finally, in the cyber security area we unveiled our new cyber threat protection solution we developed in cooperation with Netop, a global developer of advanced security solutions for remote access in complex environments. SecureLYNX™ is our cyber-threat protection solution designed for building automation systems that secures, manages and monitors account access and activities across building automation networks.

Sinclair: I see you are one of the faces behind the upcoming Haystack Connect Conference. What is it?

Petock: Technology continues to transform our industry and today some of the most significant advances are coming from a connected community of companies and an ecosystem of practitioners that combine and extend these technologies. It's this new generation of companies that are creating open solutions and applications that work together to meet customer needs. Haystack Connect is designed to bring together the community of systems integrators, technology providers and end users who are driving more efficient and sustainable buildings and advanced smart-device applications.

The event captures the vision for how a connected community is the vital engine moving the industry forward. Haystack Connect is about encouraging people to talk to each other, to work together and share advances. As our industry evolves, connected communities are a key factor in the forward progress of the industry.

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