EMS: A Big Appetite for Open Systems

Jamie Daubenspeck

One of the biggest changes we observed when analyzing results of the 2015 Ecova Industry Survey: The Value of Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Trend Telemetry Data was a profound switch in the purchase criterion for EMS. In 2015, integration overtook cost as the main consideration for purchasing an EMS, with 24 percent citing integration as their primary purchase concern. That’s double the number of executives who expressed concern about integration in the 2013 study.


Asked which vendors supplied their EMS, respondents cited the same suppliers identified in 2013, with one considerable exception. This year, Tridium joined the ranks of Johnson Controls, Honeywell, Trane, and Siemens/Site Controls on the top five list – and it wasn’t even an option on the survey; Tridium gained its top five ranking through write-ins. The change is significant because Tridium represents an open platform, and its move up the ranks denotes a clear departure from proprietary, closed-protocol systems.

Open systems are becoming increasingly desirable for a number of reasons, including:

  • A realization of the value of Big Data accessible through the Internet of Things, and the fact that accessing, analyzing, and sharing that data is best achieved through agile, non-proprietary systems,
  • The decreased cost of open architecture systems aimed at the mid-market,
  • The cumbersome task of integrating multiple, disparate, and proprietary EMS systems as a result of merger and acquisition activity.

The collection of 15-minute interval data in an enterprise operating multiple, proprietary, disparate systems creates an integration conundrum, and it’s a conundrum that, according to our survey, is all too common. Responders consistently listed multiple manufacturers in their response, most likely due to acquisition or inheritance of a mix of proprietary EMS. At issue is that data point structure varies widely from one proprietary system to the next, and a several-hundred site chain of stores, for instance, can generate millions of data points per day. Open systems equate to standardization of that data, and given that respondents indicated the integration with current assets, technology and infrastructure was the most common purchasing criterion cited this year, we expect the trend away from proprietary systems to gain considerably.

To read the complete survey results, download the 2015 Ecova EMS Survey Analysis: Findings from Industry Professionals.
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