It’s hard to strike the right balance between keeping our integration partners informed about our directions and activities and not jumping the gun to announce things before they are ready. We wrote an article some time ago about a feature we were planning on implementing to replace the functionality of the Metasys® Passthrough mode available with several of the JCI supervisory controllers. Here is a link to that article.
We received some fantastic feedback from multiple partners and a lot of encouragement to get on with the development and bring the feature to market. In the last few weeks, we moved a step closer. Our development partner, Obermeier Software, has this feature running in a development test environment and confirms that it is everything we thought it would be. The user selects the S4 Open appliance and downstream N2 bus to target by using the Right Click commands in the navigation structure of the Management Console. Our “passthrough” solution then establishes a secure tunnel between the PC running the S4 Open Management Console and the OPC-N2 Router or BACnet-N2 Router. The result is a virtual COM port on the local PC that tunnels to any N2 device on any Downstream N2 interface, on any S4 Open appliance in the navigation structure.
Since the legacy Metasys® utilities, HVAC Pro and GX-9100, are limited to using COM1 or COM2, these will be the only options available. The Management Console will take care of all of the details involved in establishing and deleting secure tunnels as needed. You may need to move existing COM port assignments or request the assistance of your IT staff to do this. We are still investigating if this process can be automated but it probably will not be in the first release of the feature. Once the virtual COM port is established, set up HVAC Pro or GX9100 to target COM1 or COM2 and you have a superior solution to the original Metasys® capability. You can use the Metasys® configuration and commissioning tools from any PC in your enterprise that supports our S4 Open Management Console, not just the Metasys® workstation.
We expect this capability to be released in early 2014 and are looking for potential test sites. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. After testing, this capability will be available as a standard feature of our S4 Open Appliances and S4 Open Management Console. Existing customers who have Software Assurance Agreement in place are eligible for free upgrades on active systems.
After this product enhancement is released and stable, there is the potential for a spin-off product that provides this S4 Passthrough capability as an option to any N2-based BAS. It would work with legacy Companion / Facilitator, NCM, N30, NAE, and FX series supervisory controllers as well as with any replacement head end that supports the N2 protocol such as the Lynxspring products, any other Tridium Niagara system with a 3rd party N2 driver, the Automated Logic or Siemens N2 integrations, etc. S4 would like to get feedback on your thoughts about the market need for such a device, the sweet spot for pricing, etc. Contact Steve at email@example.com. We will only invest the R&D in this development if the market demand is documented.