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Increasing Cloud to On-Premises Connectivity in Building Management Systems

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Richard Miller

Digital transformation has uncovered new ways in which to leverage data and improve the performance of built environments. Perhaps chief among these innovations is the integration of smart technologies and analytics with automated building management systems (BMSs), allowing buildings to become more energy efficient, more responsive, and more comfortable.

These centralized control systems rely on cloud and on-premises networks to heighten a building’s performance. While both cloud and on-premises systems have advantages and disadvantages, the next generation of applications seeks not only to span multiple cloud environments, but also effectively use a hybrid approach that incorporates the benefits of both types of systems. 

Deployment of interconnected hybrid systems is set to grow exponentially. However, choosing the right cloud to on-premises connectivity solution involves considering the needs of multiple stakeholders, including owners, facilities managers, and occupants. 

Comparing Cloud to On-Premises Connectivity

When it comes to an automated BMS, connectivity is key to ensure optimal performance of a building’s systems. The real power behind a smart system involves connected wireless monitoring devices that collect valuable data to keep interiors comfortable and energy costs down. But the kind of connectivity you choose can have a significant impact on your success.

On-Premises Connectivity

On-premises connectivity is preferable over cloud-based systems in some cases. These include buildings subject to particular regulations, such as government buildings, where segmented connectivity may be the best alternative. This type of connectivity can also minimize the risk of multiple points of failure between on-premises and cloud for areas that impact safety, such as CO2 monitoring.

However, on-premises systems can have significant limitations. One of the most significant of these is that such systems require the use of VPNs. Once connected, you have direct access to the building network, which increases vulnerability to cybersecurity risks. In contrast, the cloud does not require the use of a VPN. Instead, you log into a stand-alone software app UI (Saas) which can help mitigate cybersecurity risks. 

Cloud Connectivity

Businesses typically migrate IT services to the cloud to reduce cost, decrease cybercrime risk, and improve scalability. However, cloud migration can be a complex task that involves moving platforms to off-site virtual servers provided by a third party. These can then be accessed from a single point, or even remotely, to control the building’s connected systems. When designing cloud to on-premises connectivity for a hybrid system, it’s vital to understand the benefits and limitations of each connectivity type. 

Hybrid: Cloud & On-Premises Connectivity

Hybrid cloud connectivity can include use of different types of clouds in tandem with each other and in conjunction with on-premises connectivity. An intelligent and integrated BMS with cloud connectivity is inherently a hybrid model with two primary points of connectivity:

  • Sensors and on-premises equipment connect to cloud services via secure API.
  • Users connect to a UI (dashboards, etc.) from a cloud system instead of directly to anything in the building itself.

A look at the options available in cloud to on-premises connectivity can help determine where along this range the focus should be for a particular built environment. In this way, buildings can achieve the greater versatility of cloud-based connectivity, while also retaining the siloed protection that is sometimes necessary to safeguard critical systems.

Rather than attempt to simply migrate all system functions to a single cloud-hosted SaaS offering, a more versatile and purpose-built system can be designed using on-premises components in some cases, and various cloud models in combination in order to achieve a wider range of goals and to meet diverse security & performance requirements.

Benefits of using hybrid cloud solutions include:

  • API compatibility for connected devices, as not every product works with a specific BMS or certain systems. 
  • Connectivity needs vary depending on how smart devices collect and return useful data.
  • Cybersecurity can be customized to utilize layered protections, including those built into the system. 
  • Flexibility offered by hybrid connectivity allows users to work with different types of data to adjust building infrastructure and systems without being tied to specific vendors, enabling workload migration to and from IT infrastructure while also allowing access to the public cloud when necessary. 
  • Interoperability allows monitoring components to work seamlessly in both environments. 
  • Managing costs is easier with hybrid systems, as hybrid cloud users can choose what infrastructure and software they maintain on-premises, promoting the most cost-effective solutions.
  • Quicker deployment of infrastructure and applications in hybrid systems allows for easier upgrading of both monitoring smart devices and upgrading BMS software.
  • Resiliency of systems improves when workloads run redundantly, altering between cloud to on-premises connectivity.
  • Scalability made possible by hybrid solutions allows for alteration of services as needs change. 

Hybrid systems can also make meeting regulations easier, as sensitive and highly regulated data can remain siloed to prevent it from being accessed via the cloud, while also allowing for greater flexibility when sharing information. 

Choosing the Best Option

With cloud-based integration (IOT Jetstream) and analytics platforms (onPoint) and industry-leading MSI services, the Buildings IOT team specializes in developing a broad range of cloud to on-premises connectivity solutions. We work with you to understand your goals and create a strategy that helps you achieve them. With the right connectivity, you can expand the potential of your BMS and your building. 

Buildings IOT offers the services and technologies you need to create the best cloud to on-premises connectivity solution. Contact our expert team to learn more.

 

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