We have several great articles written by industry experts on our AutomatedBuildings.com website on this exact topic, and rather than inflicting you with my opinions and words, I am going to provide you with three direct excerpts that I feel provide great insight to this matter.
It's The EconomyFrom an article titled, "Economy Drives Convergence" (www.automatedbuildings.com/news/apr03/articles/alerton/gollnick.htm), Jeff Gollnick, communications manager with Alerton, stated, "The first advantage of convergence is installed cost. It's less expensive for the BAS to use multifunction cabling and technology already installed for other enterprise networking applications: e-mail, sales data, collaboration tools, and others. What's more, enterprise networks are correctly seen as mission critical. As a result, these networks usually are high-performance, capable of carrying a vast amount of application data at high speed with good security and reliability.
"Access and reach are two more advantages that enterprise networks offer BAS systems. By their nature, enterprise networks reach out to points throughout a company or institution where a traditional BAS, until very recently, had limited or no means to communicate. When a BAS uses an enterprise network, the BAS and its users benefit from this expanded reach. The corporate facilities manager now has an unprecedented ability to keep tabs on increasingly dispersed holdings in real time, a great benefit to controlling costs in an energy-sensitive economy.
"The desire to expand the reach of enterprise networks even farther - and technologies like mobile wireless access and virtual private networks - drive many of the advancements in the IT and datacom industries. When the BAS uses the enterprise network, it also benefits from this drive for ever-expanding reach."
A New Source of InformationIn another article titled, "Facilities Are Poised To Become New Sources of Business Information" (http://automatedbuildings.com/news/feb04/articles/grdlx/grdlx.htm), Tim Huneycutt, principal at Gridlogix, stated, "Building automation and controls manufacturers recognize the unique needs of property managers and are beginning to acknowledge the power of XML Web services to provide seamless, open interoperability between automation systems and corporate business applications. XML Web services, the same powerful integration framework that has been embraced by software providers and IT departments everywhere, is also perfectly suited to transform facility subsystems into valuable sources of new business information.
"The IT world knows all too well that legacy systems and disparate data platforms are too valuable to toss out or rebuild. Rarely is an enterprise-class business system dumped because a newer, more robust system comes along. Instead, the IT solution is to provide robust integration capabilities that squeeze even more value out of those critical business systems.
"Legacy building automation systems also represent significant capital investments, not easily abandoned and replaced."
Streamlining OperationsFrom an interview titled, "What is oBIX?" (http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/dec03/interviews/obix.htm), Paul Ehrlich, business development leader with Trane's Global Controls business and chairman of oBIX stated, "Enterprise systems are making a huge impact on corporations and other types of nonprofit organizations, including business financial systems, customer relationship management, human resources, and supply chain management.
"Companies like SAP, Oracle, IBM, as well as the consulting groups such as EDS, are providing integration services to make organizations very efficient. Buildings and facilities are now a significant area for organizations to include in such enterprise systems; corporations now appreciate that the effectiveness of their facilities can make a huge difference to their bottom line.
"There is currently no easy way for IT departments - whose responsibility it is to make all this happen - to integrate their systems with the systems that run, manage, and monitor their buildings and facilities. What's important to note is that this has to be done on the IT department's terms, using their language, rules, standards, and tools, and XML and Web services have been created specifically to solve this kind of problem. oBIX is an initiative to use these technologies for building systems, and the IT folk will be very happy about this."
These three points of view offer significant insight to why connections to our clients' Web-based enterprise are important.ES