In software and web-based architectures, an open platform describes a software system that is based on open standards that enable the use of the software to function in other ways than the original programmer intended. These additional uses can happen without requiring modification of the source code. For example, using an open platform, a third party can integrate with the platform to add functionality.
The concept of an open platform creates many opportunities for building systems. In the building automation industry, open platforms enable:
Connectivity with a variety of building components
Development of applications that enhance data monitoring and management because a variety of developers are able to work with open platform information
The concept of an open platform is not a new one, but it’s definitely creating waves in the building efficiency marketplace. Open platforms enable new products to come to market more quickly and maximize the benefits of technologies working together for building efficiency solutions.
An open platform environment, where different parts of the value chain are open and interoperable, eliminates work upfront for developers. This means developers can work on adding valuable solutions to systems, rather than having to develop the basis for systems or applications themselves.
A best practice is to adopt a layered approach where each of the layers in the solution has a level of openness. The layers include:
Control layer (building automation systems [BASs], smart equipment)
Doesn’t use proprietary protocols — allows smart equipment to work with any BAS
Connectivity and integration layer
Allows for connections to any BAS or building system
Cloud applications layer
Incorporates existing applications, applications in development, or acquired and future third-party applications
With an open platform, a niche application for a vertical market can be incorporated with an existing solution to enhance the overall solution. This means you have the ability to choose the applications that meet your needs. The openness of the application layer offers companies the flexibility to fill in the application capability gaps by leveraging an open platform.
The use of an open platform is necessary to continue the pace of innovation. The expectation for open platforms will increase because it makes connecting disparate systems easier, drives innovation and development in the industry and in products themselves.
Open platforms will help drive technology changes faster while not limiting users’ ability in the process. In the end this creates more flexibility and greater opportunities from end to end. By combining the successful development of new applications with the capabilities of an open platform, more companies will realize what is truly possible with their building management systems.