Tridium introduces JACE 8000 IO R modules with webinar

Next up in the TridiumTalk webinar series will be an introduction to the new JACE 8000 IO R modules. Let by senior product manager Mike Westerfield, the webinar will cover what’s new and different with the updated NDIO to NRIO conversion tool.

Niagara CentralIf you missed the first session of the talk, there’s another one this week on October 18 at 11 a.m. eastern. Registration is still open.

Supported by Niagara 4.3, this new module provides a direct connection to sensor and device inputs and outputs spread remotely up to 4,000 feet away. Tridium says this new capability allows for remote connectivity to monitor, schedule and analyze building assets “like never before.” Learn more in the webinar Oct. 18.

Tosibox May Be New to Us But…

You may have heard, Tosibox is our newest distribution product. The American subsidiary of Finnish company Tosibox Oy is only a few years old and it has mostly been adopted in the industrial space. We at Controlco like to be first to the distribution market with products that are new to the building automation industry so we’re really excited about representing Tosibox for the commercial buildings space.

While our team is deeply involved in real-world examples of why Tosibox is the best product available for secure remote connectivity to building devices like air handlers, JACEs, lighting systems and more, it turns out those who keep a close eye on innovative technologies have been aware of Tosibox for years.

In a massive report on “Solving the Persistent Security Threats for the Internet of Things,” TechCrunch contributor Ben Dickson had this to say about Tosibox in 2015:

“Other companies such as Finnish VPN company Tosibox are providing versatile encryption solutions that add an encrypted control layer to remote data access mechanisms in order to improve file access security on devices that are lacking such features.”

If you didn’t catch the key word that was repeated there, it’s encryption. For our purposes in the commercial buildings space, Tosibox has two main products – conveniently called locks and keys. For the wonkiest among us, they describe their locks and keys as “intelligent cryptoprocessing devices.” For the rest of us, that means they come with built in security, as in the encryption that Mr. Dickson is referring to.

In his TechCrunch article, Dickson makes the case for on-device encryption as the most secure way to protect data that flows through devices and to protect access to the devices that are connected to each other. At Controlco, we’re working side by side, or usually phone to phone, with building controls contractors and integrators who are confronted with issues related to HVAC troubleshooting, remote building network access and secure connectivity among many other things. We believe Tosibox solves these problems and we’re glad to see that some people have believed that for longer than we have. Let’s talk more about secure connectivity to your building devices.

Controlco Trainer Jeff Hunter Nominated for Control Trends Award

ControlcoTrainingPanel

Controlco’s longtime master Niagara trainer Jeff Hunter has been nominated for HVAC, Building Automation, or IoT Solutions Trainer of the Year from the Control Trends Awards! Voting is open to the public although each person can only vote once. Select Jeff Hunter for #13.

Jeff teaches our Niagara AX, Niagara 4 and AX-to-N4 crossover classes, primarily in our Pleasant Hill office but he schedules a handful of classes in Fresno, California, throughout the year. He is also one of the few remaining trainers to offer Niagara AX certification courses.

Speaking of Jeff’s training courses, there are two upcoming on the Controlco calendar – Oct. 23-27 in Fresno for AX, and Nov. 13-17 in Pleasant Hill for N4. Jeff is so great that he recently got a training facility upgrade in Pleasant Hill, complete with a cutting-edge operational technology architecture that students get to work with throughout the week-long course (take a sneak peek at the control panel in the photo at the top of this post).

The Control Trends Awards take place in Chicago on January 21. We’re not sure when voting ends, so vote now!

How to Achieve Remote Connectivity, Without Security Compromise or Extra Cost

Last week we talked about how secure connectivity can save your BAS, and why the age of fearing remote access is over. Today we’ll talk about ways you can actually achieve secure connectivity.

The hardware products that are succeeding at secure connectivity for building automation systems are set up a lot like a standard lock and key system, but digital. One small piece of hardware sits at one endpoint serving as the lock that protects all of the information that is received from the device. Another small piece of hardware, the key, plugs into the lock for access to the network devices that are plugged into the lock. The lock only opens when that key is activated.

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The lock and key concept is a simple way to outline the process of how intelligent networking devices with cryptoprocessing capabilities communicate and allow access to devices securely and remotely. As complicated as that sounds, the lock and key concept still applies.

There are certain products that make sense for different parts of a building automation system, or for different types of integration projects (new construction versus building retrofit, for example). But our integrator and contractor customers are finding that a new product out of Finland is providing the best bang for the buck right now.

The TOSIBOX lock and key product suite has some of the most promising, secure and easiest to use products that we’ve seen for these applications. We’re focusing here on the remote connectivity aspect, but the same products are also great for secure connectivity from a hard-wired connection. The TOSIBOX product suite ranges from enterprise level hubs for VPN connections to USB-style keys for access to individual devices.

One integrator recently purchased the Virtual Central Lock, Lock 200s and Key 200s for deployment in a new building construction in Mexico City. The integrator found an immediate decrease in the number of field tech deployments to the job site, lower costs because no IP addresses were needed, and excellent network availability and up-time.

Browse the product suite in our online store then contact a rep to discuss your secure connectivity needs.

Fall Niagara Training and New 2018 Classes from Controlco

Register now for Controlco’s next Niagara AX certification course in Fresno, CA, October 23-27. The course includes four days of instruction and one day for the test. Our instructor Jeff Hunter offers hands-on programming practice and real-world experience in a small class setting.

Our training division has a few more bits of news for this announcement. For those who are looking to earn their Niagara 4 certification, Jeff’s next class for that framework is in November and registration is open now. And, Controlco has a new training facility for all Pleasant Hill classes. It’s in a freshly upgraded facility with a teamwork atmosphere. Check class listings for the new address. Finally, our 2018 schedule is now available. Browse Niagara 4 and Niagara AX classes online or below to begin planning for next year.

Training Schedule with New 2018 Dates
image Oct. 23-27 Niagara AX Fresno, CA
image Nov. 13-17 Niagara 4 Pleasant Hill, CA
image Jan. 22-26 Niagara 4 Pleasant Hill, CA
image Feb. 19-23 Niagara AX Fresno, CA
image March 12-16 Niagara 4 Pleasant Hill, CA

How Secure Remote Connectivity Can Save Your BAS

Rooftop_Packaged_UnitsIn the old days, a busted rooftop unit meant an urgent phone call from the facilities manager and a costly emergency deployment of a field technician from a contractor, integrator or controls distributor. For many in the building automation industry, it’s still the old days. But for those who are interested in solving building equipment problems with digital and less costly solutions, diagnosing a problem can be as easy logging into a computer.

Secure remote connectivity is standard in many other industries by now. But when a system on the operational technology side of a building network turns off when it’s not supposed to or cycles on and off in an unintended pattern, everyone scrambles to diagnose and fix the problem, often after it has been occurring for days or weeks.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The technologies that have changed the operation of countless other industries is also available to the building automation industry, people have just been turned off by security concerns or commitment to old processes.

The security concerns around remote connectivity have, up until now, been valid. High profile data breaches achieved through compromising an IBMS plaster news headlines. From there, attempts to solve the problem have over complicated the issue. But as with other industries, there are ways to do remote connectivity right, without compromising anything on the security front and without a PhD in cybersecurity.

The products that are succeeding use technologies already widespread and proven in other industry applications – such as VPNs and VLANs. When applied correctly, the advantages of these remote connectivity products are tremendous.

While you may have shied away from remote connectivity for your BAS with good reason, new products available today don’t require a complete OT network overhaul to get secure remote access to your building systems. These products plug directly into individual units to create a secure portal into that one device or the entire system. Digital transformation sounds like it would require a full system retrofit, but that is simply not the case. As soon as your next system fails or falters, it will become clear that the age of fearing remote connectivity is over.

Check back next week for more details on our favorite remote connectivity products available for building automation applications.

Tridium Offering JACE Trade-Up

In an expansive effort to quicken the adoption of Niagara 4, the latest edition of the most popular operational technology framework, Tridium yesterday announced a trade-up program for legacy JACE controllers. The JACE 8000 Trade Up program is offering discounts for a limited time. The JACE 8000 is optimized for Niagara 4, and the manufacturer says using the new framework can reduce inventory and cost to maintain a BAS.

This offer is not available in all regions, so call your Controlco rep today to find out if you qualify and we’ll get you set up. Meantime, review the JACE 8000 spec sheet and browse our inventory.