The PlanIT Operating System (PlanIT OS™) Architecture
The PlanIT OS™ is sometimes described as the collision of next-generation software-based Building Management Systems, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and Cloud computing. To put it another way, it provides a unified sensor data acquisition, real-time control, historical database, analytics engine, and application hosting platform for urban environments, or – deployed in a public cloud – for remote devices with sensing and actuation capabilities.
The PlanIT OS™ has been architected to allow flexibility in deployment and also to scale from a small / local controls scope to large scale domains, ultimately comprising entire cities. Examination of the architecture shown below helps to explain how this is achieved.
The “Layered” Architecture
Broadly the architecture can be seen to have four distinct layers:
The Sensor/Actuator Network – a unified, converged network which is enabled by the PlanIT OS™ but is not part of it. The PlanIT OS™ communicates with devices in this layer to collect data, make decisions – sometimes with user input via applications - and issue commands to controllable equipment. In an urban environment the network will typically be a local / metropolitan area network.
The Controls Layer – the ‘first layer’ of the PlanIT OS™, deployed with network infrastructure. This provides the most distributed point of intelligence in the system, and provides the most time-critical responses to incoming data. It also is where the specific code – or Driver Applications - for interfacing with specific equipment resides if needed. Control Applications also reside at this level – these are managed through the supervisory layer of the PlanIT OS™ but run in the PlanIT OS™ Real Time Control (RTC) core to provide autonomous, immediate responses to control requirements, for example the control of a light or a motorized flap that forms part of an HVAC system.
The Supervisory Layer – the ‘second level’ of the PlanIT OS™ provides higher level, more aggregated intelligence from individual building scale up to an entire city or a fleet of distributed devices. This layer collects, manages, and provides insight to data, ensures that data is propagated quickly to where it is needed, and provides an Application Program Interface or API for applications to leverage.
Applications (PlaceApps) – again these are enabled by the PlanIT OS™ but are not part of it, although certain applications may well largely consist of exploitation of the services that form the PlanIT OS™ API. Applications enable users to interact with data and controllable equipment in the urban environment, subject to access granted by the security model. Applications are portable across PlanIT OS™ deployments, opening up a mass market for smart urban applications, because the details of equipment interfaces are abstracted from the application by the PlanIT OS™ while the PlanIT OS™ is always the same consistent platform. Further information on how these layers work together to provide the platform for smart urban developments and connected devices can be found here .
The PlanIT OS™ ensures scalability and reliability principally by careful control of distribution of functionality. In general the PlanIT OS™ seeks to centralize management but distribute execution. More details can be found here.
The key differentiators of the PlanIT OS™ architecture over traditional Building Management solutions are as follows:
- A unified sensor network provides cost benefits of an ‘all-shared’ sensor and actuator infrastructure, as well as richer insights through ‘naturally aligned’ data
- Converged networks provide efficiency and better performance with contained cost
- Lower cost deployment through the use of commodity hardware and software
- Highly redundant architecture eliminates single points of failure
- Race-proven controls architecture and highly reliable network hardware helps ensure primary reliability of control functions
- Control algorithms are centrally deployed and can be updated in real time
- PlanIT OS™ scales to larger control domains through the use of near-real time data propagation
- History data allows for predictive models and continuous optimization of performance
- Abstraction models for capital equipment enable ‘pre-integration’ of hardware, substantially reducing commissioning cost and risk while enabling more comprehensive control
- Consistent application API provides a mass market for applications, stimulating the ecosystem that builds them and commoditizing the availability of functionality for PlanIT OS™-equipped developments
The PlanIT OS™ currently ships as a version designed to support partner integration of equipment and control of limited scale developments (less than 1000 homes). Release 2.2 will be available before midyear, extending standard protocol support and providing functional APIs for lighting. Release 3 will be available in early 2013, and will fully support the multimode deployment model significantly extending the scalability of solutions, theoretically to entire cities. Releases 3 and beyond will be accompanied by scalability benchmarks which validate the PlanIT OS™ and PlanIT UOS™ for levels of deployment ensuring that developers can adopt the platform with confidence.