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The Role of Middleware in Connected Buildings
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Connected Buildings Feature Editorial

January 14, 2010

The Role of Middleware in Connected Buildings

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

High speed data networks, IP telephony, building systems, Wi-Fi and Power over Ethernet devices are becoming more prevalent as building owners, developers and tenants realize the benefits of structured cabling deployment and other innovations.

As such, the concept of “connected buildings” is becoming increasingly important to businesses. In a recent TMCnet interview with Panduit’s Joe Kassl, connected buildings engineer, he explained the significance of middleware as it relates to connected building solutions and its vital role to integration.
“Because the operating and maintenance costs of buildings are increasing as a result of energy. What this really means is we need to find a way to do more with less. We need to leverage our systems to become more efficient, and we need to get more value out of our BAS systems,” Kassl said.
The term “middleware,” according to Kassl, can mean many things, but the role it plays in integration is quite distinct.
“In some cases, [middleware] is a communication bridge; it could be a translator, it could be a gateway…at the end of the day it really is an aggregation point to bring in different disparate systems information to one unified front end,” Kassl explained. “But it’s important for integration to get that cross-communication from the different disparate systems to leverage them to do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do without it. It’s actually the center, the glue of the BAS system, to get more out of your building controls to get them to run and operate more efficiently,” he said.
The primary benefits of middleware are reducing operating costs and ultimately providing the end user more leverage in their building automation system.
“In short, in days of past, if you would buy a computer, all the components of that computer had to be one brand – you’re pretty much stuck with a wrapped system,” Kassl said, pointing out that different, printers, monitors etc., weren’t compatible. “With middleware, the benefit it gives you is you can mix and match different systems into your building so your building can be filled with a variety of components, giving you the maximum return on investment.”
According to Kassl, several advancements in technology have helped create this vision of connected buildings.
“One of the main advancements is really the migration to an open protocol and that’s pretty much across the board from different manufacturers, the wide acceptance of creating an open protocol, to increasing the interoperability between these systems,” Kassl said. “It really enhances the true plug-and-play aspects of building control systems.”
For more on what Panduit is doing to increase operational efficiency in data centers and the solutions it has developed for driving that evolution, please visit Panduit’s Smart Data Centers micro-site on TMCnet –, or go directly to Panduit’s Web site,

Erin Harrison is a senior editor with TMCnet, primarily covering telecom expense management, politics and technology and Web 2.0. She serves as senior editor for TMC's print publications, including "Internet Telephony", "Customer Interaction Solutions", "Unified Communications (News - Alert)" and "NGN" magazines. Erin also oversees production of TMCnet's weekly iPhone e-Newsletter. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

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