Fifteen Years and Counting

Fifteen years ago I thought I had found a home for the rest of my career - I was a major contributor at Johnson Controls with a set of skills that were pretty unique. That was until I got a wake-up call one Friday afternoon when I was told my services were no longer needed. But they were! The very next day I started a new career as an independent consultant to JCI. That ultimately led to the formation of The S4 Group.

A couple of years into the consulting business I took stock of where we were going and decided that the best way to make sure that the company was sustainable was to productize the expertise I had developed relating to scalability and integration around the Metasys® system. The first S4 Open product was launched. The OPC-N2 Router integrated into the Metasys® system and published each N2 device as an OPC device, reflecting the state of the BAS industry at the time. That product is still in production finding niche applications in pharmaceutical and clean room environments.

As BACnet gained momentum, we kept pace with the changing marketplace and offered the initial BACnet-N2 Router. At about this same time, we branded the product line S4 Open to reflect our philosophy and commitment to open systems. As a part of that commitment we made major investments in our own test environment, became involved in BACnet International and in the annual PlugFest event. S4 became active in a number of online forums and established a presence at most of the primary industry trade shows. We established relationships with most of the major manufacturers in the BAS marketplace with a commitment to provide seamless support to our mutual customers.

One of the design goals of the S4 Open product line was that it was to be an integration framework not tied to any one protocol or BAS implementation. Our BACnet protocol implementation has been maturing and evolving over several years. In parallel to that, the implementation of our product has also evolved to position us to deliver on the goal of being an integration framework. With the next major firmware release, the code will be OS independent and the mechanisms will be in place to support multiple upstream and downstream protocols.

Achieving the above design goals made us base our technology implementations on state of the art approaches even though our core business was firmly rooted in legacy BAS Integration. You’re going to see that pay off in the form of multiple product announcements over the next several months. Development and testing are underway for multiple new legacy BAS integrations, BACnet services are being provided to state of the art products from other companies, web services / JSON based interfaces are under development, our products are more frequently acting as on-site agents for cloud-based services, and we are aggressively incorporating cloud-based options into our own portfolio. More detailed announcements will be provided in future issues of The Gateway.