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Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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« Service Oriented Physical Security | Semantic Assembly of Business Projects »
Tuesday
Apr292008

Service enabling Telecommunications – lessons for Buildings and Grid

Peter Carbone, Vice President of SOA for Nortel, gave a nice high level talk on the challenges facing a company that grew up with rigid account control and vertical integration in a regulated environment learning to dance in the world of SOA and mash-ups. As markets for building systems are still characterized by rigid account control and vertical integration, and the power grid is still vertically integrated, regulated, and almost complete account control, there are some useful lessons.

Infrastructure convergence was the enabling and driving change for telecommunications. Provisioning telecommunications was long the most difficult task. Over the last decade, the diverse communication infrastructure converged to a single packet-based infrastructure with resulting dramatic simplification of security and reliability. The questions move from “What low level communications do you need” to “What interactive services do you need?”

This evolution changed how Nortel had to think about and market their services. Before the change, Nortel sold vertically integrated applications that were inflexible. As the core technologies converged, Nortel was forced to decompose advanced services into core functions and then plug them back into the new architecture.

Fortunately, decomposing integrated services into core functions looks a lot like defining a service for service oriented architecture. Fundamental telecommunications functions can now be built into enterprise applications without requiring exotic skills are deep domain knowledge.

Skills-based routing and deployment was one example. Peter discussed a SAP integration with critical system causing expensive downtime, emergency part ordering, and synchronizing communication with an outside expert so that the repair personnel, the piece of equipment, and, via telecommunications and real-time identification of the expert on call, the expert’s telepresence were synchronized.

In a similar vein, he discussed abstracting the GPS function from the cell phone to block access in the security system when the phone was in a forbidden zone. Peter gave many more examples and you can find his slides on the OASIS conference site.

So what can building systems and the power grid learn from this?

Well, the owners expect the systems to just run, and are annoyed whenever someone says words like BACnet or LON (or any other control protocol) in their presence. We need to decompose advanced services to discover the core functions, from the owner’s and the tenant’s perspective, and present them as interfaces that can be plugged back into the enterprise.

As Peter summed up the C-Level response: “I just spent $100 Million fixing my processes, you had better be compatible.”

Building services that can present themselves as that can interact with SAP, or with PeopleSoft will have an advantage. The services that know how to display themselves on Google Earth will know how to request the nearest technician.

Likewise, Grid requests that present themselves to ERP services will find faster acceptance. Grid requests that describe grid pricing as shapes that can be pinned to Google Earth will enable the enterprise to come up with multi-site responses that may be different from any single site.

No one cares about the old vertical applications. Enterprise interactions are everything.

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