May 2015

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Varun NagarajEMAIL INTERVIEWVarun Nagaraj and Ken Sinclair

Varun Nagaraj, President and CEO Sierra Monitor Corporation

 Varun joined Sierra Monitor Corporation in July 2014, from Echelon Corporation (ELON) where he was senior vice president and general manager of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) division. Previously, he served as president and chief executive officer of NetContinuum, a leading provider of Web Application Firewalls, acquired by Barracuda Networks (CUDA) in 2007. Varun received his Electrical Engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; a Master of Science degree from North Carolina State University; and his Master of Business Administration degree from Boston University.

Sierra Monitor’s FieldServer Gateways and Routers

Driving Ease of Use and Cloud Connectivity

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SinclairCan you tell me about Sierra Monitor Corporation (SMC)?

Nagaraj:  SMC addresses the facilities management market, and we do so with two solutions:

  1. The FieldServer brand is focused on connecting different high-value assets within a building or commercial facility and bringing it under an umbrella for common management.
  1. The Sentry IT brand is focused on life safety and protection, protecting high-value assets or people within a facility from hazardous gas and fire.

The solution we have that is most relevant to the audience is the connectivity product line, our FieldServer gateway and routers.

SinclairFieldServer, previously known as FieldServer Technologies, has been a long-time member of the community. Can you remind everyone here what FieldServer offers?

Nagaraj:  The FieldServer gateway and router product line is our offering to the large connectivity product line. FieldServer gateways and routers are used by system integrators, OEMs, and occasionally facility managers to tie together different systems that would otherwise be orphaned inside a large building or commercial facility.
Regardless of the protocol these different systems use, we bring it together and get them to talk to each other, to a building management system, or to a cloud management system.

SinclairWhere do you see FieldServer, now a brand under Sierra Monitor, going in the next year?

Nagaraj:  FieldServer product line has been known to be highly flexible; you can pretty much do anything in the protocol realm with it. FieldServer products are also very feature-rich, where we have the largest number of protocols supported in the industry; you can be sure that you can connect anything you need together.

One area where we have the opportunity to improve, which we’re acting upon, is ease-of-use. Our recently introduced FieldServer BACnet Router is a great example of that. From a feature point-of-view, we have innovated with capabilities like DeviceFind™, which is a one-click push that lets the Router automatically discover the entire network around it to let the integrator know that the job is truly done. Additionally, we spent a lot of time to develop a one-page “set and forget” user-interface.

I hope to continue this train of thought with a range of future products that we’ll refer to as the “easy” product line coming out; each one is distinguished not just in terms of the richness of features, but in terms of its ease-of-use as well. Ease-of-use is a big vector for us.

SinclairYou mentioned something about the cloud. Can you elaborate?

contemporary Nagaraj:  I will be a little coy about digging into this, but the role of the cloud and the role of the gateway in cloud-enabled devices is something SMC is looking at. We ask the question: how does a smart connected product connect not only to a BAS or SCADA system, but connect into the cloud itself? Just so that various people within the value chain can use the benefit of that direct connectivity for value-added capabilities like predictive maintenance, deep analytics, or for improving the product itself.

This area is rich, but it requires a lot of dialogue within the community for us to figure out what the right business models are and what technical challenges exist that we need to overcome. We are in the thick of this, but we at SMC hope to address this in the upcoming year.

SinclairWhere and when can we expect to see on-going thoughts and products about the cloud?

Nagaraj:  We have a new blog where I, along with other members of the SMC team, will address the role of the cloud and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) ever so often.


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