Introduction to Niagara Framework®

First Encounter with Niagara Framework®

If you are from the Building Management Systems occupation the word Niagara has a slightly different meaning for you than it has for the whole world. No, in this article, we aren’t going to talk about Niagara Falls, although their beauty and power are beyond doubt. We are going to split some light on Tridium’s Niagara Framework®.

Picture 1. Niagara Falls

In 1999 Tridium launched the first truly open software platform for building automation – Niagara Framework®. At that moment the BMS market was filled with systems dedicated to specific manufacturers of BMS equipment. Most of these manufacturers used their communication protocol and that makes the life of engineers very complicated in case if the devices of multiple vendors were required at some object. Tridium’s Niagara Framework® decided to go one step ahead of the market and created a framework that was able to integrate as many different devices from different vendors as possible.

Such as Niagara Falls gathering the water from multiple water sources and creating the most powerful waterfall in the world, so Niagara Framework® was gathering devices from the most well-known BMS market participants, creating the most powerful BMS system in the world. Nowadays Niagara Framework® allows communication with all open communication protocols like BACnet, Modbus, LonWorks, KNX, M-BUS, LON, MQTT, SNMP and others without the need of using converters or additional software.

Adaption of Niagara Framework in the US and Worldwide

At the foundation of Tridium’s business lies the well-known formula “Problem+Passionate people willing to solve that problem=Success”. The problem was the interoperability of available different open protocols on the market. The people who were willing to solve that problem were few engineers from Richmond, Virginia. And the solution to that problem was Niagara Framework®.

The important step for Tridium’s recognition and future rapid development was their partnership with Honeywell in 2000. At that year Tridium’s name became available on the European market as well. Later in 2005 Honeywell announced the acquisition of Tridium, but Tridium will be granted the status of an independent business entity.

Picture 2. World

Next year the number of Niagara instances will reach over 35 000 worldwide. With the introduction of the JACE-6 controller, the number of instances would reach 200 000 by 2011. Today the number of instances is approaching 1 000 000. Impressive, isn’t it?

Future of Niagara Framework®?

What are the strong indicators that this technology will be successful in the future? Let’s see.

  • Cloud Connectivity. The company is constantly making updates related to the new trends in IoT and Cloud space. Lately, the Niagara 4.9 version was endowed with a new version of the MQTT driver to support AWS (Amazon Web Services) Authentification. The new JSON Toolkit added in that version creates new possibilities for cloud connectivity as well.
  • Cyber Defence. Cyber-Security was always a priority for Tridium. Data Encryption, Secure Boot, SSO Authentication, IdP, PKI management tools – all there, all to protect the user’s system. For the acceleration of good security practices, the company developed a ‘Security Dashboard’ which analyses what potential weaknesses are present in the system.
  • The simplicity of Usage. Niagara Framework® is well known for its simplicity of commissioning, configuring and general setting. But what is more interesting is the system constantly making progress in that direction. A nice example is lately released Graphics with Tag-Based Visualization. Automatically created graphics based entirely on tags was a dream for engineers for many years. Now it’s here in Niagara Framework®.
  • Analytics. The data itself is pretty useless unless you can make sense of it. Niagara Analytics allows users to improve operations, make quicker and smarter decisions and represent data in a “readable” manner.
  • Openness and partnerships. Niagara is not just one company, it is a community. The community of passionate people who were given access to improving and developing Niagara Technology. Thanks to such an approach to the business we can see multiple examples of successful products based on Niagara Framework, like iSMA-B-MAC36NL delivered by Global Control 5, Active Framework by VayantData or EasyLink by QuickLink Solutions. Success lies in collaboration.
  • Versatility. Niagara Framework® proved to be an excellent solution for Building Automation, Industrial Automation, Security Management, Energy Management, Lighting Control, Total Facility Management, M2M communication, Maintenance Repair Operations and other fields.

So with Tridium’s Niagara Framework® clients can be sure that they are getting the most modern, secure, simple and open Building Automation technology. There is always room for improvement, but it is nice to see that with every new release of Niagara Framework® the company delivers fair value to the loyal customers.