Date: May 9, 2018
High Availability Clustering Solution Protects Leading Intelligent Building Control Solution
SteelEye Technology partner, Open Minds, has developed a high availability edition of Tour Andover Controls’ Continuum intelligent building control solution using LifeKeeper technology.
High Availability For Intelligent Building Control Systems
Intelligent building control systems are widely employed to manage access to different parts of structures such as prisons, banks, hotels and large office buildings. These systems can also control the climate, constantly monitoring the environment. Also, it can control heating, cooling or dehumidifying different areas as necessary. The need for continuous building operation is at risk from power outages and natural events including lightning strikes or floods. As well as challenges like equipment failure, network interruptions or human intervention by accident or deliberate sabotage.
Real incidents of failures have, in the past, endangered security and safety. For example, hotel guests locked out of their rooms. Office workers trapped in lifts or high-rise buildings. But more worryingly, failure could conceivably cause systems to either lock prisoners into their cells during a fire, or allow them to escape.
Implementing High Availability Clustering Solution
With risk scenarios increasing and the tolerance for downtime decreasing, Tour Andover Controls looked into high availability to enhance its product offering. They did not have the expertise in-house to develop greater protection from downtime. However, Open Minds impressed Tour Andover Controls at a demonstration. Following a further pilot study, invested its own resources into developing a high availability edition of Continuum.
Open Minds achieved this by integrating SteelEye’s LifeKeeper High Availability Clustering Solution into the existing SQL Server-based control system. LifeKeeper constantly monitors Continuum and detects if the application or any of the system’s servers, storage or networks indicate error conditions. When LifeKeeper detects that failure either has or is about to occur, it instantly takes action to repair the condition. This avoided prolonged failure of the system and, therefore, preventing any security or safety risks.
Safe And Reliable Solution
The result is a LifeKeeper Protected version of Continuum that can be back-sold by Tour Andover Controls to existing customers, or sold as a separate price-list option to new customers. A typical solution comprises two servers, with or without shared storage. Where there is no shared storage, the package includes data replication over a dedicated link between the two servers.
In practice, Tour Andover Controls’ engineers have already come across instances where the building control system server has failed over between LifeKeeper-protected servers. And the customer has been unaware that this had happened.
Underlining the importance of High-Availability Clustering solution generally, there has also been discussion between Open Minds and Tour Andover Controls. They have plans to extend the solution to become an offsite disaster recovery solution. There were also talks about producing a high availability version of Tour Andover Controls’ Web Client using Internet Information Services (IIS).
Satisfied Customer Enjoys High Availability During Downtime
Paul Fileman, UK Marketing Manager of Tour Andover Controls, said: “There’s no ideal way for a building control system to fail. You can’t compromise security and safety, while systems are down or being fixed. People expect continuous access. The only viable solution is to have a building control system that doesn’t fail – and we do.”
Shobana Patel is the Managing Director of Open Minds High Availability Solutions. Patel performed the integration between LifeKeeper and Continuum. He said: “In today’s world, the cost of planned and unplanned downtime is under greater scrutiny than ever before. Thus, it clearly makes sense to build in protection of critical applications and servers. For this reason, we are finding an increased demand for turning many vertical applications into highly available applications. LifeKeeper Extender allows us to protect any application with surprisingly little effort. Continuum is a case in point where adding LifeKeeper to the solution truly enhanced and created a better product for Tour Andover Controls. It provided value added benefit to their customers.”
Guaranteed Support From SIOS
John Banfield, EMEA Director of SteelEye Technology says: “This is an initiative that we’ve been delighted to support. There are many standard applications with which LifeKeeper integrates straight off, and many others with which it integrates easily. There is an even greater opportunity for software developers to provide high availability solutions by integrating LifeKeeper Extender into applications while they’re in development. This saves engineering time later on, adds to the value they can offer to their customer. It may even open doors by being more likely in the first place to meet the real needs of business customers.”
To find out more about High-Availability Clustering Solution, go here.