Last month I wrote about our first time participating in the Niagara Summit. I knew that it was going to be a lot of activity packed into just a couple of days, and I also knew that I was going to be exposed to a level of detail about the Tridium product that I had not experienced before. I found everything that I expected, and more!
I spent a lot of time on the exhibit floor talking with members of the integration community as well as Tridium employees. For many years, our products were almost locked out of projects using Niagara because there was a belief among the Niagara integrators that in order to be a valid integration, code needed to be implemented as a Niagara Driver. I found something very refreshing in these discussions. A lot of this stigma seems to be going away. Integrators have become much more sophisticated and are looking for solutions, not just pieces and parts. Best of all, they are finding out that the functionality provided by our S4 Open: BACnet-N2 Router far exceeds what could be provided in an on-board Niagara driver.
I also spent a good bit of time with Tridium developers at the event. During those discussions we agreed that because of the unique timing requirements of the N2 protocol, and the complexity of providing the ability to co-exist with the legacy Metasys® head end through our Upstream N2 interface, it makes perfect sense not to try to re-implement our system as a Niagara driver. We have evaluated this option many times and always came away with the same answer. It’s great to have a confirmation from the Niagara experts.
With the next firmware release expected from the S4 development team within the next weeks, we will have a replacement for the Metasys® Passthrough mode built into the S4 Open Appliances and our S4 Open Management Console. This is another feature that must be implemented in a dedicated platform in order to meet the timing requirements of the N2 bus. With this feature the Metasys® configuration and commissioning utilities HVAC Pro and GX-9100 can be executed from any Windows system running our Management Console.
Niagara portability coming as part of V4 brings with it the potential to keep the BACnet-N2 Router as it is implemented as a dedicated network appliance and provide the option to run Niagara in the same box for those who want to develop applications and graphics in the Tridium Niagara environment while utilizing the power of the S4 Open Appliance for the integration effort. We are going to keep a close eye on this capability as it becomes a reality. It could open up a lot of very interesting integration options. We now highlight “The Power of Two” in our value proposition presentations. This opens up the possibility of having The Power of Two together in one box!
Typically after a trade show, new contacts get entered into the CRM system and a few thank you messages get sent, and life returns to normal relatively quickly. That did not happen in this case. The level of interest that I received was intense enough that I thought it was prudent to do a bit more market research. I decided to use LinkedIn to reach out to the Niagara integration community. I've been busy ever since doing capabilities presentations, educating integrators about the integration process using our BACnet-N2 Router, and assisting potential S4 Integration Partners in reviewing potential projects. As mentioned above, part of this effort involved developing a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the value proposition of using the two systems together. Ask us for a copy and learn about The Power of Two! Several major Tridium distributors have expressed interest in also offering the S4 Open: BACnet-N2 Router. Controlco has already completed a major integration project using S4 technology and has signed a distributor agreement to represent the S4 Open Appliances. See the related article in this issue about this new relationship and watch future issues of The Gateway for the case study.