Facility Management
~ 8
mins read

The Scalable Future of Building Management is in the Cloud

What if you took your entire building management system on the cloud? How would you be benefitted? Read on to know more!

Tamoghna Chakraborty

Traditional BMS solutions have often been inflexible, expensive to scale, and quickly become obsolete as new technologies emerge. On-premise BMS servers required significant upfront capital expenditures, could only monitor a limited number of systems and devices, and needed ongoing maintenance, upgrades, and support from specialized technicians. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the proliferation of smart building technologies have only compounded these challenges. Commercial buildings now incorporate thousands of connected devices – sensors, HVACs, water treatment plants,  controls, video cameras, access control systems, and more. Legacy BMS solutions simply weren't designed to handle IoT scalability and struggle to integrate all of these disparate systems.

Fortunately, cloud computing offers a better way for building managers to achieve a truly integrated, scalable, and future-proof BMS. By migrating to cloud-based building management solutions, facilities can take advantage of virtually limitless computing power, automation, analytics, and seamless integration capabilities. Let's explore some of the key scalability benefits the cloud provides for BMS.

Seamless Expansion and Integration

One of the biggest scalability limitations of traditional on-premise BMS solutions is that they have finite computing resources to process data inputs from connected systems. This creates hard ceilings in terms of how many building sensors, controllers, and other smart devices can be integrated. With a cloud-based BMS, there are no such computing constraints. The cloud provider's scalable infrastructure enables collecting, processing, and analyzing IoT data streams from thousands or even millions of connected devices across multiple locations. Cloud BMS solutions provide a unified data repository and integration fabric to easily connect any type of building system, device or sensor – regardless of the technology, manufacturer or protocol.

This integration scalability pays major dividends. For example, instead of operating separate, siloed systems for energy management, asset management, preventative maintenance,, access control, etc., everything can be unified under a single pane of glass. Facility managers gain unprecedented visibility, control, and optimization capabilities across all aspects of building operations. If a facility decides to install new smart building technologies like air quality sensors or occupancy monitoring, cloud-based BMS solutions can instantly incorporate data streams from those IoT devices. There's no need to rip out and replace existing infrastructure, or undertake complex integration projects – new systems can be seamlessly layered on top of a cloud BMS.

Analytics Scalability

Simply collecting data isn't enough to drive smarter building operations – that data needs to be translated into optimized control sequences, preventative maintenance schedules, energy-saving measures, and other actionable insights. This is where cloud-based BMS solutions leverage scalable data processing, machine learning models, and big data analytics. Traditional BMS solutions made capturing building data actionable a very manual, painful process. Facility managers and engineers had to spend long hours poring over spreadsheets and dashboards looking for patterns and issues to address. In addition to being time-intensive, this human analysis couldn't possibly process the volume of data generated by thousands of connected devices across the building.

With a cloud BMS, all of those IoT sensor readings instantly flow through analytics engines that use machine learning algorithms to detect anomalies, predict issues, and trigger automated actions. For example, the system can continuously analyze HVAC data correlated with occupancy metrics, weather data, and energy pricing to optimize heating and cooling levels and schedules. Rather than reacting to spikes in energy usage, the system can recognize inefficient patterns and self-adjust. It can also forecast when equipment like chillers and boilers will require maintenance based on performance data – preventing costly breakdowns and extending asset lifecycles. Facilities can even opt-in to analytics benchmarks that crunch operational data across thousands of other similar buildings to reveal opportunities to enhance performance. All of this happens in the cloud at a hyper-scale, with virtually unlimited data processing and storage capacity.

Hybrid Management Flexibility

Another key scalability advantage of cloud-based BMS solutions is their ability to bridge legacy systems and new technologies through hybrid cloud and edge architectures. Many facilities have made sizable investments in existing on-premise BMS servers and controllers. A cloud BMS solution doesn't force a complete rip-and-replace of that infrastructure. Instead, it can integrate on-prem components and centralize monitoring and control in the cloud.

This hybrid cloud approach solves some critical scalability limitations of legacy BMS systems. For example, it enables facilities to seamlessly incorporate thousands of connected devices that would overwhelm on-prem computing capacity. The heavy data processing can be offloaded to the cloud, while local on-prem systems continue handling time-sensitive automation tasks like controlling HVAC setpoints.

Distributing workloads across cloud platforms and on-prem edge devices helps facilities scale in a secure, cost-effective, and resilient way. They can expand their smart building footprint without having to drastically overprovision on-prem infrastructure. Operations can gracefully scale up and down based on demand – avoiding costs for unused BMS capacity. Plus, edge computing allows building systems like HVAC controls and access management to operate autonomously with or without cloud connectivity – preventing disruptions. This approach provides redundancy that improves the resilience and uptime of critical facilities. While hybrid clouds enhance scalability today, cloud-based BMS solutions provide a future-proof path to migrate fully off legacy on-prem systems when they reach end-of-life. Facilities can stage this transition gradually – adding new smart systems to the cloud while phasing out aging components. This scale-out model provides flexibility versus the expensive rip-and-replace cycles required by monolithic on-prem BMS platforms.

Future-Proofing and Innovation

Arguably the biggest scalability advantage of cloud BMS solutions is their capability to stay evergreen and continually evolve with new innovations. On-premise BMS platforms grew increasingly outdated and constrained over time – lacking the agility to integrate new IoT, AI, and smart building technologies.  Upgrade cycles and disruptive tech refreshes on a consistent basis and maintenance is needed in scheduled time intervals. Cloud software follows a radically different model based on continuous delivery and over-the-air updates. Through cloud computing architecture patterns like microservices, containers, and serverless functions – new features and capabilities can be released and scaled incrementally. Facilities automatically benefit from ongoing platform enhancements and innovations. They avoid technical debt and never have to worry about their BMS becoming obsolete or a scalability bottleneck again.

Furthermore, cloud BMS solutions unlock advanced capabilities that are difficult or impossible to achieve with legacy on-prem systems:

  • Data Consolidation: Roll up and centrally monitor building operations performance across multiple sites – helping streamline processes and find optimization opportunities
  • Enterprise Mobility: Provide secure access to BMS controls, dashboards, and reporting from any device, anywhere – enabling remote facilities management
  • Security Resilience: Cloud platforms leverage security infrastructure and  containerized isolation to protect against threats at a massive scale
  • Integrations via APIs: Publish data streams and embed BMS functionality into enterprise applications via secure, standard APIs for integration agility
  • Scalable AI/ML Services: Tap into the cloud provider's AI/ML stacks to infuse smart building operations with advanced predictive and autonomous capabilities

The flexibility and pace of innovation with cloud-based BMS platforms far outstrip what traditional on-prem solutions can deliver. Facilities gain a future-proof foundation that will scale seamlessly as new technologies and use cases emerge.

Realizing these scalability benefits requires facilities to rethink how they approach building management and adopt a new cloud operating model. While cloud BMS solutions help reduce complexity in some areas, they do introduce new processes and skill requirements. For example, with on-premise BMSes, skilled technical staff were needed to install servers, integrate systems, and maintain underlying infrastructure. Cloud solutions eliminate many of these undifferentiated heavy-lifting tasks. However, stakeholders need to invest in developing cloud architecture skills and understanding cloud connectivity, security, and governance practices.

Cost management and forecasting also changes in a cloud model – replacing big upfront CapEx with consumption-based OpEx that can fluctuate based on scale and usage demands. Strong financial governance processes are required, but in return, facilities gain much more flexibility to scale up or down as needs change. With cloud-based BMS solutions continuously evolving through automated application updates, facilities need to be able to test and validate changes in an iterative, agile manner.

IQnext provides its users with a cloud-based BMS that is first of all, efficient in nature and agile in practice, providing a combination of characteristics any user would be happy with. Its focus on the cloud based BMS with IoT integrations makes it a market leader when it comes to ensuring that a good product which works for the benefit of the user and also, provides room for innovation through integrations of technological advancements with every passing day and not to mention, the sustainable impact it leaves!

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