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How to Integrate Cloud Apps and On-Premises Systems in Your Building

Image of Clint Bradford
Clint Bradford

In many ways, buildings have changed very little over the last half-century. HVAC, security, lighting, and other systems in most buildings continue to function separately. This results in reactive rather than predictive or preventive maintenance and limits automation opportunities. Often this creates burdens for building owners. The inefficiency inherent in separated systems not only contributes to higher maintenance costs, but also to energy waste. Building owners should look at how system integration helps them administer their assets though integrating cloud and on-premises apps in built environments. 

Cloud integration offers a way to expand the functionality of building management systems (BMS), centralizing data gathered by smart monitoring devices in a secure and accessible hosted service. From there, data can be processed by analytics applications to enhance efficiency, allow for more sophisticated automation, and transform building maintenance

The cloud allows almost limitless amounts of data to be collected and stored, while cloud-based analytics programs provide actionable insights into a building’s operations. Advanced apps even offer predictive analytics. These advanced apps predict certain outcomes based on historical data. Yet even with the property industry’s inevitable move to the cloud, on-premises systems will continue to remain part of the larger system for years or decades to come, as onsite control has its benefits. 

Why Use On-Premises IT Infrastructure?

As businesses and other organizations have migrated much of their software and data storage to the cloud, many building owners are following suit. However, on-premises IT infrastructure persists, particularly when it is built with features tailored to specific situations, including critical health and safety considerations. It also allows apps to run without an Internet connection, which means building occupants can continue to work when internet connectivity goes down. 

On-premises enterprise software is still used in certain industries, such as government and healthcare, due to a belief that storing sensitive data in onsite servers is safer. This will likely change gradually over time because of the number of buildings used by these industries and the slow pace of regulatory change within. Even in such circumstances, integrating cloud and on-premise apps will become increasingly necessary to ensure compatibility with modern BMSs. 

Asset Management: Advantages of the Cloud

The benefits of integrating cloud and on-premise apps within built environments ultimately come down to pragmatism and flexibility. It allows the best approach to be selected for different system components. The wide use of asset management cloud software has already proved beneficial to property owners, though buildings and their occupants can benefit from a range of other cloud apps as well. 

Administrative benefits include: 

  • Allows building owners to automate many aspects of asset management, including scheduling work orders, testing building systems, and creating alerts to allow for preventive maintenance. 
  • Analytics within cloud-based asset management apps help reduce inefficiency by using gathered data to develop insights that can improve building performance. 
  • Exponentially increases capacity for data storage. 
  • Increases up-time and resilience through externally managed, geographically distributed cloud platforms.
  • Intelligent tracking and reporting functions within integrated cloud-based apps allow them to directly monitor building systems with the assistance of smart sensors that transmit data in real-time to a central BMS. 
  • The security measures such as encryption, auditing technology, and other cutting-edge cyber security options found in most cloud-based software increase protection of a building’s BMS and other systems. 

Other benefits include: 

  • Allows for easy and seamless data exchange.
  • Cloud-based software updates automatically.
  • Improves the ability to communicate and coordinate between systems. 
  • Streamlines management of multiple properties through a single interface. 
  • Increases affordability by eliminating high upfront costs for IT infrastructure. 
  • Provides a means by which building owners can store and retrieve almost limitless amounts of data. 
  • By offering ease of integration to a range of machine learning (ML) algorithms, an effective cloud-based BMS optimizes a building’s systems over time. 

Cloud integration essentially shifts the paradigm for building owners, as it merges physical and digital infrastructure. Successfully integrating cloud apps and on-premises systems so that they communicate with each other also allows smart devices to provide insights that improve both a building’s efficiency and its occupants’ comfort. 

Solutions for Integrating Cloud and On-Premise Apps

When it comes to integration, cloud and on-premises apps must work not only with each other but also with all the building’s connected systems. When developing integration solutions, it’s important to ensure a cloud provider’s ability to handle workloads sufficiently, as cloud environments can vary considerably in performance.

Integration options are constantly changing as new ideas and innovations come to market. Some solutions make integration less expensive, while others offer greater convenience. For example, many of the connected monitoring devices within a smart BMS have fallen in price as technology advances. Meanwhile, revolutionary gadgets, such as mobile air quality sensors, make it possible to relay more kinds of real-time data to cloud-based analytics apps. Organizations must carefully consider which combination of cloud and on-premises ecosystems best fits their requirements.

The following should be considered to ensure seamless integration:

  • Backup protection is sometimes easier when archives are stored on-premises, especially when multiple cloud services are used. However, the cloud offers much greater capacity. In some situations, hybrid solutions work best. 
  • Data protection needs to be a priority in order to minimize vulnerability to threats such as malware, cybersecurity breaches, and natural disasters.
  • Latency presents a challenge when integrating systems, so keeping latency-sensitive apps on-premise offers operational advantages. 
  • Network performance often depends on proximity to network infrastructure, which points towards an on-premise solution. However, a hybrid solution may decrease the risk of disruption when data and applications must be kept separate. 
  • Scalability often favors the cloud, as the cost of on-premises infrastructure to accomplish the same tasks can be prohibitive for smaller organizations. 
  • Using existing infrastructure is an economical means to reduce costs when integrating, though it need not be limited to on-premises apps, as existing cloud tools can be used instead of purchasing new. 

Different approaches and varying capabilities in cloud environments factor heavily into the choices available for developing integrated infrastructure. Where some offer cost-effective support for long-term, stable workloads, others offer cost versatility for rapidly changing requirements.

The iPaaS Solution

The use of an integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) offers an innovative way of integrating cloud and on-premises apps, enabling development, execution, and management of the integration process through a suite of services accessed via the cloud. It can connect virtually to any combination of cloud-based and on-premises applications, data, processes, and services for individual users or throughout an organization. 

As a cloud-based software package, an iPaaS solution like IOT Jetstream helps users create new applications, link to existing services, or arrange data flows. Through the use of standard data formatting and protocols, it communicates with existing services while offering the ability to convert data from one format to another, much like a transportation hub does in the physical world. The result is a powerful solution to building management and new opportunities for improving efficiency.

Buildings IOT offers cutting-edge products and services for integrating cloud apps and on-premises systems in built environments. Contact our team of experts today.

 

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