Novant Smart Building PaaS
A better way to access data from your building automation system
Getting data out of buildings and putting it to valuable use may seem simple, but walk through what it takes and it quickly becomes a daunting task.
- How do I connect to the BAS system?
- What database do I use for storing the data?
- How will my applications access the data?
- How do I recover if I lose data or servers?
- How much will all this cost?
- How do I keep things secure?
- What happens if I have a data breach?
- Will someone be able to hack our building?
These are problems we all need to solve — but how often do we start from scratch each time? Does your organization have the expertise to build and stand behind a solution? Is it worth the investment?
As an industry we need a better way. We must make our building infrastructure better, simpler and more reliable. Only then can we really begin to focus on taking buildings to the next level.
The Novant Smart Building PaaS is designed to solve these problems. We handle the "boring" stuff no one else wants to tackle. Get your data out of buildings and make it accessible to the applications that need it. Focus on what you do best, not wasting time on complicated IT problems.
How does it work?
Our platform is composed of three primary components:
- Data Storage
- On-premise Gateway
If you can't get data out, then it doesn't really matter how fancy your shiny new system is. That's why we started at the API. Get your data out simply and easily. No custom protocols or data formats. We use industry standard HTTPS and JSON for our request API. Almost any platform, language, and tool is capable of ingesting JSON.
We've spent a lot of time thinking about how to build an efficient and easy to use data platform. The last thing we want is developers stumbling over how to access data in their language of choice.
So we provide clear documentation with code samples for each of our end points for popular programming languages. Copy and paste to get started right away.
Um, what is an API?
Not everyone is a programmer. Especially in our industry. So we need to go further than just providing an API and great documentation.
We need integrations us normal folks can use. Our goal is to provide free tools for non-programmers that work with all the major platforms to help utilize data from the Novant PaaS.
Our first integration is for SkySpark, available as a free extension that can be downloaded from StackHub today.
Control Who Gets Access
Most systems don't provide a good way to limit access to data, but its something that comes up all the time. Don't hand over the keys to the kingdom. Instead, create API keys to apply fine grained control over your data access. Limit keys to specific projects, or set them to auto expire after a period of time. Cut off access by revoking keys.
Storing data is harder than it sounds. How much will it cost? How much do I need? How do I scale it, keep it safe, control access? The Novant PaaS manages all that for you in a simple low-cost solution.
Backed Up. And Backed up Again.
If there was one thing about data storage that gives people the most anxiety, its probably wondering if its safe. Data on the Novant PaaS is stored redundantly to achieve a high level of durability. Lots of things can happen in life, but losing trend data is not one of them.
Easy to Understand Pricing
A fraction of a cent per GB? That sounds great! Wait, so how many points is a GB? Low level storage systems are not priced with BAS semantics in mind. Our pricing is both cost effective and easy to understand.
Simply a low rate per point per month. Only pay for what you actually use. Or keep your data forever. Its your choice. And doesn't take a PhD to figure out.
But I'm Already Storing Data?
Many applications already support importing and storing BAS point data. You might wonder why we want to store it again on our platform?
First and foremost, its unlikely your application’s primary purpose is data integrity. Which means you’re still stuck having to worry about how to maintain and backup your building data. By utilizing the Novant PaaS, you can rest easy that your data is always available even if a problem occurs in your application deployment.
But another important consideration that many overlook, is the long term value of your data. As applications, technology, and buildings evolve, we will continue to use data in new and different ways. Don’t lock up your data in a specific vertical application. Novant makes it easy to migrate to other platforms, or to add additional applications using a single managed data source.
Storing your data on a neutral system designed explicitly for long term storage of BAS data, guarantees accessibility for whatever comes down the road.
On-premise Novant Gateways connect your building to the cloud, and run our best-in-class NovantOS designed specifically for distributed edge systems. Connect to your BAS system using Bacnet/IP, Modbus TCP, or Modbus RTU over RS-485.
Plug and Play
No network configuration or setup. Simply plug your gateway into your network and you're ready to go. You can even create your application ahead of time — any pending updates will automatically be downloaded and applied on startup.
Safe and Secure
All our gateways utilize Secure Boot to ensure only authorized software operates on your IT/OT network. Don't compromise ease-of-use for security. We can have both.
Firmware updates are automatically applied to keep all systems secure and up-to-date. No more wondering which devices are running which firmware, or the hassles of maintaining software for hundreds of devices.
Power loss can wreak havoc on embedded storage systems. To work around these problems, many systems require expensive UPS components, or high-maintenance backup batteries.
Our gateways utilize supercapacitors to provide backup power in the event of power loss to protect your data from disk corruption. Supercaps never have to be replaced, are fast to recharge, and have no shipping restrictions like batteries.
Keep operating through momentary power flickers, or if power loss is sustained, gracefully shutdown the system to ensure data integrity.
To future increase reliability, our gateways use separate disks for applications and data. The application runs out of a read-only disk, which is resilient to power loss. In the rare event that corruption does occur, the data partition will be automatically reformatted and device configuration will be re-downloaded from the cloud. You're even protected if you lose power in the middle of a firmware update.
No custom ports or protocols here. Novant Gateways use TLS and HTTP to communicate with the cloud over standard IT ports. All requests are push only, which avoids the need for special firewall configuration. No more frustrating conversations with your building's IT team.
What happens if a "dumb" device loses network connectivity? If you are relying on a cloud platform to trend data, then every minute that goes by without a connection, you are missing valuable system data.
Our gateways use short-term local storage to buffer trend data on-premise to withstand even prolonged network outages. Once connectivity is restored, the local data is synced up to the cloud.
Get up and Running Quickly
A key focus for Novant is the work required to commission new systems. Setting up BAS networks has historically been an extremely labor intensive process. As an industry we need to get better — a lot better.
Learn your entire OT network and add every point in a single click using our Bacnet Discovery feature, or cherry pick only the data you're interested in. Or leverage our easy-to-use tools to setup Modbus TCP and RTU devices.
We plan to invest heavily in understanding how different organizations setup and manage their buildings — and turn that data into workflow improvements for our platform.
When many systems fail, they just stop working. However, we often know how to recover from lots of errors. So why doesn't your software do that automatically?
Take poll rate as an example. Why do I need to configure how fast or slow I read point values? How do I even know what it should be? NovantOS will monitor network and serial speeds and automatically determine the best poll rate to keep your entire BAS system working optimally.
We've all been there. Our customer calls and says the dashboard has no data. Turns out we stopped reading points weeks ago, but no one noticed. Experienced users have likely setup alarming to notify them when this occurs. But does it cover all the problems that crop up?
We should expect more from technology these days. The Novant PaaS will automatically notify you of all problems that occur — from network connectivity — to unusually slow I/O performance. Nothing to setup and remember.
When you login — we'll take you straight to the problem, with context sensitive help to explain the problem and recommendations on how to fix. No more hunting around complex control systems to self-diagnose runtime errors.