We’re living and working in a new era – let’s call it the Age of Orchestration. Thanks to smart technology, people and machines are connected in ways we never expected, and those connections have created tons of new possibilities – and challenges.
In the data center, this Age of Orchestration has given us smart sensors and machines that are capable of sharing information in real-time, creating a more seamless workflow and greater access to vital information. This is great for productivity. But it also presents a giant security risk. After all, if your machines are constantly ‘talking’ to each other, how can you be sure that no one or nothing else is listening in?
That’s why it’s no longer good enough to leave building management to the building managers. You need to get more people involved – like your CIO.
THE CIO AS BUILDING MANAGER?
I know, the CIO is the Chief Information Officer. Why would they get involved in building management?
Answer: because ‘buildings’ are not what they used to be.
In recent years, IOT sensors and actuators have been installed in virtually every part of the data center, turning what was once a siloed infrastructure into a dynamic open environment. In electrical systems, you find sensors monitoring power distribution and automators controlling the lights and emergency power generation. In the mechanical and plumbing systems, you find the same for the pumps, motors, fans, chillers, cooling towers, and air handlers. And for security systems, the cameras and card readers are connected as well.
Some of these sensors and actuators are new installs, while others are retrofits or replacements of older solutions. And to compound the problem, most existing BAS/BMS controls run on old systems, relying on outdated controllers and network protocols like Modbus RTU, BACnet, and Profinet. These systems are slow, insecure, and not tailored to the company’s needs. In fact, most BAS/BMS systems were installed by the contractor during the building’s construction and just handed to the building operator.
This hodgepodge approach to infrastructure is not suited for today’s Age of Orchestration, and can leave glaring holes in efficiency and security which can do serious damage to your company’s performance.
This is a serious challenge. And the only group with the expertise needed to tackle this challenge is the office of the CIO. After all, they’re the ones responsible for all internal IT needs, like your network protocols, security, and AAA (authentication, access control, auditing) – exactly what you need to incorporate into your building management.
But what exactly can the CIO do? A bunch of things. They can:
- Establish network protocols that unify all your machines, devices, and sensors.
- Constantly look at and test legacy systems and plan their transition to IP protocol, therefore freeing them from their hardwired restrictions and enabling seamless collaboration.
- Define user controls so the right people have access to the right information.
- Manage the security of everything from top to bottom.
- Implement cloud-based solutions where possible in order to unlock further potential.
We know, it sounds weird. Why would you want to put your CIO in charge of building management? But remember: in today’s Era of Orchestration and smart IOT devices, the building itself is a major conduit of your company’s information, which is why putting the Chief Information Officer in charge of that makes so much sense.