2014 Product Direction

The stage is set for another year of growth with our S4 Integration partners. In addition to growing our product capabilities, we are seeing a community of consultants growing around supporting and enhancing the capabilities of the S4 Open Appliances.

Now that maintenance release 1.8 of the S4 Open: BACnet-N2 Router is out the door we can shift our resources in new directions.

Next up is a refresh the S4 Open: OPC-N2 Router with a maintenance release that will pick up all of the current changes incorporated in the BACnet-N2 Router.

Some of these efforts are being put into the underlying platform upon which the S4 Open products are built. One of the most significant changes is that we are moving the underlying OS from Windows CE 5.0 to Embedded Compact 2013. This change enables us to run our development and test environments on virtual machines, streamlining this process and enabling us to be much more efficient. This also allows us to take advantage of many enhancements in the Microsoft Embedded platforms including better integration with the Microsoft enterprise networking and security technologies. The first versions of S4 Open products on this new platform will be received from the development team by the end of February.

We will also be working on several new integrations in parallel because of the new flexibility provided by the platform change. Watch for specific announcements over the next several months. The new integrations are built on the same framework as the N2 Router products so all of the recent enhancements to our BACnet capabilities will be included.

A frequently requested enhancement has been a replacement for the Metasys® Pass-through capability. That capability is available now by utilizing our Upstream N2 interface after retiring the Metasys® supervisory controller. We have designed a much more flexible Pass-through implementation: leveraging the technology of our Management Console and implementing this will be one of the highest priority enhancements to our current products.

A new Management Console implementation is in the works that connects to our appliances via web services. This allows easy access to remote S4 appliances at customer sites. The web services implementation sets the stage to allow alternative connectivity via web pages or smart phones / iPads, etc. This new implementation will be available to our current products, the S4 Open: OPC-N2 Router and the S4 Open: BACnet-N2 Router, as well as the new integrations.

Much of the power and flexibility of the S4 Open Appliances come from our Device Type Templates. From their inception, the Device Type Catalog was maintained by .CSV format source files. This gave us the flexibility to incrementally introduce new system capabilities while maintaining backwards compatibility and gave our Integration partners the ability to customize the system to meet their needs completely independently of the Metasys® supervisory controller database. The complexity of Device Type Templates has increased to the point where they have outgrown the capabilities of the .CSV file format; as a result, Device Type Templates will be migrated to .XML format in the near future. Our Integrator Partners will have all the power and flexibility that has always been there and the offline editing process will become much easier by utilizing standard XML editing and authoring tools.

As we make progress on the new integrations we will also enhance our upstream publishing capabilities. Support for Haystack Tagging will be introduced within the next year.

We encourage our Integration Partners to communicate with each other and with S4 so that we can continue to keep our appliances responsive to your business needs.