Networking the Way it Should Be

Most of our readers know The S4 Group as a building automation integration technology company. But, our roots are in the networking, telecommunications, integration, and network / systems management worlds. With the arrival of work-from-home mandates and options, this background is serving us well independently of the vertical market.

Some time ago we noticed the trend towards building owners and their support contractors needing to introduce value added services like remote monitoring, dashboards, energy management and monitoring, analytics, demand-response services, and continuous commissioning, plus many others that help make legacy buildings, and their occupants, more efficient and more productive. It was cost prohibitive for them to upgrade to current generation technology via a rip-and-replace approach. In response, we re-cast the S4 Box as an on-site agent to provide data from legacy BAS systems.

Automation systems that historically were secured by physical and electrical isolation are now being brought into the digital age with increased demands driven by the above new functionality and associated cybersecurity.

Networking technology is always required to connect data sources with applications that turn the raw data into actionable information. Traditional networking is generally too complex, too costly, and requires specialized engineering and implementation skills.


We’ve been looking for a solution to these issues and we believe that we have found one through a relationship with TOSIBOX.
The S4 business model has always been to go to market through a network of distributor and integrator partners, with S4 providing the enabling technology and our partners delivering the complete solution through the technology and services they determined were required to meet their customer’s requirements. TOSIBOX perfectly fits this business model.

From our years of experience in the building automation space, we have found that you have to get the question of cost out of the way before partners will listen to anything else that you try to educate them about. So, here is a graphic that compares TOSIBOX networking with the traditional IT approach.

The time and money that you save by utilizing the TOSIBOX technology will pay huge dividends. This means that you will focus your skills and resources on the service that you are delivering to your customer. By delivering faster, better, and cheaper you will significantly increase your profits. The S4 Group and TOSIBOX will work together to determine the appropriate components, configurations, and security profile for each project, then drop ship the pre-configured systems to your project site.

We attended several TOSIBOX netlabs where their solution was presented. Then, we installed a TOSIBOX Starter Kit in our test Lab. When I opened the packaging the first thing I saw was a quote from TOSIBOX founder Veikko Yimartimo “If a tourist can fly across oceans without knowing about airplanes, why can’t people enjoy the benefits of technology without having an IT degree?”

Great concept, especially if you are the technician out in the field installing large numbers of cookie-cutter sites. My thoughts then moved to wondering if TOSIBOX had the flexibility to enable S4 to help our partners engineer the networking technology to support their projects. We were able to easily reconfigure the TOSIBOX technology to simulate the use cases that we understood from years of supporting our partners. What we found was a very well-engineered and nicely packaged product that more than met our expectations.

One of the most complex use cases is providing centralized services or remote management to entire portfolios of properties cost effectively, securely, reliably, and with acceptable performance.

This picture says a lot. However, there is also much more going on behind the scenes. All of the critical issues mandatory for a successful large scale implementation must be covered, and they are.

The patented TOSIBOX automation is what drives down the cost of networking, provides unlimited scalability to address the needs of the largest property portfolios, obscures the underlying complexity inherent in networking technology, provides interoperability with all networking and service delivery platforms, and does this all while meeting the most stringent cybersecurity requirements.

Not every application needs to be as scalable as the above example. There are many cases where a secure remote access for a single site is all that is needed. TOSIBOX can cost effectively address this case also.

My entire career has been spent in the networking and integration worlds. So, I had to understand how and why TOSIBOX could deliver on their promises. If you don’t care about these details, please skip this paragraph and suffice it to say that there is automation hosted in the cloud. The core TOSIBOX automation is provided by their international network of “MatchMaker” servers. The MatchMakers enable the TOSIBOX components to locate each other, share attributes and configuration information, authenticate access, and then get out of the way. I am convinced that it works as advertised.

The TOSIBOX components establish a secure ISO layer 2 (bridged) or layer 3 (routed) point-to-point VPN connection without sacrificing performance as happens with cloud-based VPN services.

One of the most critical needs for our building automation partners is the need to remotely, and securely, access building data via BACnet for value added applications. Typically, this means setting up BACnet BBMD servers, allocating public fixed IP addresses, configuring port forwarding through firewalls, and navigating NAT configurations. This always adds time and expense to the project. Typically, you do not get everything right the first time, adding delay and expense to your project. The TOSIBOX automation eliminates all this complexity without sacrificing security, interoperability, or performance. They get it right the first time and every time.

This article provided a high-level overview of the TOSIBOX technology and how it might support our S4 integrators and distributors as well as the building automation, process control, and industrial automation customers they serve.

Next month we will take a deep dive into the components that make the TOSIBOX solution modular, scalable, cost effective, unique, and powerful.

Note that the screen shots and graphics used in this article are from TOSIBOX netlab training sessions, product documentation, and the TOSIBOX web site.

Contact The S4 Group to start the process of designing and deploying your TOSIBOX network to support your project’s application, remote access, or monitoring needs. Traditional product purchases or SaaS pricing models are available depending on the size and complexity of your project.

If you are a U.S. Federal Agency, our products are available on GSA Advantage through DynaGrace Enterprises, contract number 47QSWA19D005C. S4 Open, Obermeier Software, and TOSIBOX add to your toolset of software services and system solutions to enhance and automate your enterprise.