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EMAIL INTERVIEW – BACnet Secure Connect
Andy McMillan contributing editor and Ken Sinclair
Andy McMillan is President and Managing Director of BACnet International, where he works with users and suppliers to expand and enhance the BACnet community. Previously he served as President of a building automation and energy management business unit of Philips Lighting. Andy has been an invited speaker on BACnet and open systems at conferences around the world. He has been awarded a dozen patents, has co-authored a book on data communications and his background includes BSEE and MBA degrees.
Interview with Andy McMillan BACnet Secure Connect
AutomatedBuildings.com October 2021
Sinclair - Andy, I’ve heard about BACnet International’s BACnet Secure Connect Reference Implementation, but before we get into that, can you give us a little background on BACnet Secure Connect and where it is now?
McMillan - BACnet Secure Connect, or BACnet/SC for short, is a secure, encrypted data link layer in the BACnet specification. It was first introduced as Addendum 135-2016bj by the ASHRAE BACnet Committee but is now fully incorporated in the standard as Annex AB. It’s specifically designed to meet the requirements, policies, and constraints of minimally managed to professionally managed IP infrastructures. It doesn’t replace existing BACnet options but complements them. It’s one piece of the larger industry effort to address the growing need for cybersecurity in building systems.
Building automation manufacturers are currently working on incorporating BACnet/SC into their products.
Sinclair - That sounds like a big undertaking. Do most companies have the in-house capabilities for that?
McMillan - Some do. But we realized that there’s a lot of pressure on manufacturers to offer BACnet/SC solutions and not all companies have those in-house capabilities. And even those that do would benefit from an industry-vetted reference implementation for testing and verification. So, we offered our BACnet/SC Interoperability Acceleration Program as an 18-month fast track for BACnet/SC developers.
Sinclair - What did the program accomplish?
McMillan - The program provided BAS suppliers with the knowledge and skills necessary to incorporate BACnet/SC in their products and solutions. It also generated a reference implementation and configurable test bench for BACnet/SC.
Sinclair - That sounds like a great help. How was it received?
McMillan - We had great participation with over 100 people from nearly 30 manufacturers, including most of the major players in the building automation market. We even had universities join to keep their systems and curriculums at the leading edge of building automation communications.
Sinclair - So, for those who didn’t join the program and are looking to incorporate BACnet/SC, where do they go from here?
McMillan - As a result of the BACnet/SC Interoperability Acceleration Program, and with assistance from the program participants, we developed a community-vetted BACnet/SC Reference Implementation. It’s so important for suppliers to have a powerful and effective device and system test capabilities and the Reference Implementation was developed to provide a quick way to ramp up in-house BACnet/SC testing with a set of capabilities and scripts that can be used across multiple platforms.
It’s a Java implementation that includes a sophisticated Test Bench that enables the rapid creation of multiple nodes and hubs to simulate complex network environments.
Sinclair - Who has access to this BACnet/SC Reference Implementation?
McMillan - It was initially released to the program participants but since the goal was accelerating BACnet/SC adoption, it has now been released as an open-source project on Source Forge.
Sinclair - Can suppliers get any help with using the Reference Implementation?
McMillan - Yes! As part of the BACnet/SC Interoperability Acceleration Program, we held three educational webinars covering the Reference Implementation as well as the future direction for BACnet Security. All three were recorded and they are now available on BACnet International’s YouTube channel.
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