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post #181 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by crosen View Post

First, consider that more and more, managing devices in the home will be tied to what is happening outside the home. Energy management where lighting, HVAC and other device operation may be tied to energy supply pricing is a good example of this. With this sort of application, either you are moving data from the cloud into the home, or else you are moving data from the home into the cloud. Either way, the comm link to the home becomes vital. Doing the processing in the cloud becomes more efficient the more that data from the cloud is required. At some point, for certain applications, it may become more efficient than doing the processing in the home.

This is a good point. Everyone has been looking for the 900 pound gorilla that can make everyone line up and follow the leader right? At least for energy providers it looks like they have chosen to back ZigBee. SoCal Edison is installing many thousands of smart meters right now that communicate with the end user via ZigBee. If I were the gas or water utility I would probably fall in line behind these guys when it came time to update my infrastructure. As a consumer I have already written off the idea of ZWave. I will have to install Zigbee functionailty to inteface with SoCal Edison.

As far as the cloud goes for control... I would support beter access to control units that are home based. But an embedded OS running on dedicated hardware is a 100% must have. Management might be remote but the service needs to be local.

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post #182 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by crosen View Post

That is a good articulation of what can be moved to the cloud and the issues that move carries. However, I'd like to point out a couple of possible benefits to this approach.

First, consider that more and more, managing devices in the home will be tied to what is happening outside the home. Energy management where lighting, HVAC and other device operation may be tied to energy supply pricing is a good example of this. With this sort of application, either you are moving data from the cloud into the home, or else you are moving data from the home into the cloud. Either way, the comm link to the home becomes vital. Doing the processing in the cloud becomes more efficient the more that data from the cloud is required. At some point, for certain applications, it may become more efficient than doing the processing in the home.

But that's not 'cloud computing'. Or, if it is, cloud computing has been going on for decades. That's just someone out there providing the data you want in order to do what you want. It's not really any more 'cloudy' than a stock quote or a traffic cam.

The reason being that we aren't talking about all of us setting up a cloud computing account to do these calculations. That's no more efficient than doing it at home, because whereever that cloud computation happens, it still has to suck all the data down from whereever else it is and grind through it for every single person who wants the data.

The only way it gets more efficient is if it's conglomerated in one place where everyone can get it, i.e. provided by some company like stock quotes or any other net based information, in which case it's just as easy to get it from a controller at home as anywhere else.

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post #183 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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nexus99,

I understand your reluctance. What I'm suggesting is the UI used to define the HA network (topology and components) might be created using a cloud-based service. The resulting descriptive language, and the underlying command / (scenes,etc) would be stored on the cloud, but cached on a local HASP gateway. That gateway would be similar in some regards to what today's controllers are, but they would intrinsically embrace what is called a "hybrid architecture" which means residing both on premise and in the cloud.

The actual control of the on-premise network would not require external network connectivity. At the same time, that connectivity (dual-homed) could be useful for accessing the network remotely, or pushing real-time monitoring to third parties.

I can understnd the the privacy / security some folks might have - but the fact is a great deal of very private information is now stored in clouds, like Google, Yahoo and others. Likely, some regulations will arise defining what a "trusted provider" of HA services can and cannot do - given the privacy / security concerns.

IMHO, this is probably going to be the architectural basis of futue HA systems, as that is precisely what is happening in the smart/connected buildings space.
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post #184 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post

But that's not 'cloud computing'. Or, if it is, cloud computing has been going on for decades. That's just someone out there providing the data you want in order to do what you want. It's not really any more 'cloudy' than a stock quote or a traffic cam.

The reason being that we aren't talking about all of us setting up a cloud computing account to do these calculations. That's no more efficient than doing it at home, because whereever that cloud computation happens, it still has to suck all the data down from whereever else it is and grind through it for every single person who wants the data.

The only way it gets more efficient is if it's conglomerated in one place where everyone can get it, i.e. provided by some company like stock quotes or any other net based information, in which case it's just as easy to get it from a controller at home as anywhere else.

Dean,

What you are arguing is precisely the line of reasoning that has fallen apart for premise-deployed system in enterprises. You really, really need to research this architectural disruption, as it could be your salvation or your demise.

Given all the work you've put into CQC, re-envisioning it in a "hybrid" cloud / on-premise architecture could be a watershed for you.
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post #185 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by crosen View Post

That is a good articulation of what can be moved to the cloud and the issues that move carries. However, I'd like to point out a couple of possible benefits to this approach.

First, consider that more and more, managing devices in the home will be tied to what is happening outside the home. Energy management where lighting, HVAC and other device operation may be tied to energy supply pricing is a good example of this. With this sort of application, either you are moving data from the cloud into the home, or else you are moving data from the home into the cloud. Either way, the comm link to the home becomes vital. Doing the processing in the cloud becomes more efficient the more that data from the cloud is required. At some point, for certain applications, it may become more efficient than doing the processing in the home.

Also, having the logic out in the cloud makes certain aspects of updating and managing that logic easier to do. Sure, you can remotely trigger an appliance to update, but you're still rolling a truck if that appliance fails.

I'm not stating that moving the controller piece to the cloud is a better solution, and I suspect in most cases it is not. However, I do want to empasize that the approach does have some merit.

An absolute critical component of any structure would have the homeowner still in control of all of his systems if there is no connection to the internet.

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post #186 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 01:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crosen View Post

Doing the processing in the cloud becomes more efficient the more that data from the cloud is required. At some point, for certain applications, it may become more efficient than doing the processing in the home.

I don't follow that inflection point. The cost of local computing is $5 if that in the home. These applications are not MIPS intensive at all. Even high end controllers run at 300 Mhz or so and most of the time they are idle. The heaviest lifting thing is probably executing HTTP/TCP/IP which you would also in either scenario.

The case of cloud computing therefore cannot be made in traditional sense. Instead, you have to think of what more you could do with it, rather than what it can replace. For example, if Google got into this and built beautiful online wizards for programming my home, I will not need CQC. Sorry Dean . Google might do that because it wants to sell you advertising when you go to configure your home. And by invoking the community, and creating scale, get people to write more drivers than exists even in current systems. And further, there could be excellent knowledge base of what works and what doesn't (HDMI anyone?).

Now, seeing how often my Droid email program crashes and the myriad of other bugs in my Motorola phone, I am miles away from trusting Google with this scenario . But possibility exists.

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Also, having the logic out in the cloud makes certain aspects of updating and managing that logic easier to do. Sure, you can remotely trigger an appliance to update, but you're still rolling a truck if that appliance fails.

I buy that. Then again you might be a bit helpless like you are today, if your Internet service goes down and you have no idea if it is the cable modem, something in your home, or the upstream service. But still, that is a decent idea.
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post #187 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fiasco View Post

An absolute critical component of any structure would have the homeowner still in control of all of his systems if there is no connection to the internet.

Absolutely, lack of network connectivity would have zero impact on controllability. Connectivity required if you want to remotely access network status or change programming.
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post #188 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

I don't follow that inflection point. The cost of local computing is $5 if that in the home. These applications are not MIPS intensive at all. Even high end controllers run at 300 Mhz or so and most of the time they are idle. The heaviest lifting thing is probably executing HTTP/TCP/IP which you would also in either scenario.

OK, let me clarify this. The efficiency comes not from cpu, but rather from communication. The idea is that communication between any two processes through the cloud is relatively cheap compared to communication between the cloud and a home.

Now, consider an energy management application that controls HVAC based on 1) vehicular data, 2) energy data and 3) weather. The vehicle sends periodic updates to the controller (in the cloud), and based on this the controller knows that user is en route to his vacation home. Energy and weather data are likewise sent to the controller (in the cloud) until finally the controller sends a single message to the home setting a climate scene based on the compiled data.

So, there have been dozens of communications without using the relatively scarce communication link to the home, but only a single communication over that expensive link. Now, consider the communication sequence if the controller were situated instead in the home - many, many more requests over that relatively scarce line.

Perhaps the example is contrived, but hopefully it makes the point.
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post #189 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 02:14 PM
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Aren't those systems a helluva lot more than $10K?

Actually, no they're not. For example, an HAI omni PRO 2 is MSRP of 1500 bucks. It is a totally embedded system that does lighting, HVAC, security, access control, distributed audio control, remote access, etc. Your peripheral devices and scale of the project will then dictate final cost. The embedded control panel is treated like any other major appliance for your home. The expexcted life span is 15-20+ years.
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post #190 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 02:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crosen View Post

OK, let me clarify this. The efficiency comes not from cpu, but rather from communication. The idea is that communication between any two processes through the cloud is relatively cheap compared to communication between the cloud and a home.

I understand the point of view now. But I don't consider that a relevant saving. A broadband connection to the home will not be taxed at all by those separate messages. There just isn't much going on.

Locality of data is indeed critical to system design from performance point of view and typical cloud considerations. But in this scenario as I mentioned, it doesn't seem important.

That said, you did provide a good new angle so I will keep thinking how it can help .
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post #191 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 02:43 PM
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Assuming we're onto something architecturally, which current HA systems would we judge as being "directionally correct?" What moves / purchases, if any make sense in the middle of this disruption?

I missed this post - it's a great question. Starting with the control protocol, I'm a fan of ZigBee for a few reasons:

- it's not proprietary
- it's wireless
- it's got good traction
- the only other open wireless control option I know about that has traction in the U.S. is Z-Wave. I like ZigBee over Z-Wave mostly because ZigBee Pro profiles is good step toward standardization at logical/application layer. And, ZigBee has arguably better momentum with CI (vs. DIY) market. (Admittedly, Z-Wave devices are less expensive.)

(Then there's WiFi, but this just addresses transport - and not control - and also has issues like wake-up time, power consumption and configuration.)

Issue with ZigBee is no real DIY play, yet (that I know of?)

The three big CI ZigBee players seems to be Control4, LifeWare and Colorado VNet. LifeWare is coupled to Windows MCE. VNet is struggling (and sort of saved by Russound.)

I like lots of things about C4 beyond ZigBee including the rich options for driver creation and so decided to become a dealer. Biggest shortcoming I see is the locked down GUI, but this will be addressed with 2.0.

I know this is a very rough analysis down a single path of a potentially complex decision tree, but hopefully it's a start.
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post #192 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 02:48 PM
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I understand the point of view now. But I don't consider that a relevant saving. A broadband connection to the home will not be taxed at all by those separate messages. There just isn't much going on.

Hah - I thought before hitting send that the example might not be all that compelling, but after allowing myself a certain time to formulate a better one and coming up empty, I let 'er go.

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That said, you did provide a good new angle so I will keep thinking how it can help

There you go, thanks!
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post #193 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 04:28 PM
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Absolutely, lack of network connectivity would have zero impact on controllability. Connectivity required if you want to remotely access network status or change programming.

I would think that local programming wiuld be a 100% necessity as well. Being able to program remote and well as locally would be fine... but it is difficult to to think about a core service not programmable on premises.

It would be like having to go to the web to start your washing machine or to program your Tivo. Sure, there are times where that would be handy but for 99.9% of the interactions I have with these devices it needs to be accomplished on site. Not just use of the items, but configuration of the items also.

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post #194 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I would think that local programming wiuld be a 100% necessity as well. Being able to program remote and well as locally would be fine... but it is difficult to to think about a core service not programmable on premises.

It would be like having to go to the web to start your washing machine or to program your Tivo. Sure, there are times where that would be handy but for 99.9% of the interactions I have with these devices it needs to be accomplished on site. Not just use of the items, but configuration of the items also.

Properly designed, there should be no difference between the UI served up from the network and the one used on site.
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post #195 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 05:37 PM
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Properly designed, there should be no difference between the UI served up from the network and the one used on site.

I agree, the availability, the SLA, is what will be different.

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post #196 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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I would think that local programming wiuld be a 100% necessity as well. Being able to program remote and well as locally would be fine... but it is difficult to to think about a core service not programmable on premises.

It would be like having to go to the web to start your washing machine or to program your Tivo. Sure, there are times where that would be handy but for 99.9% of the interactions I have with these devices it needs to be accomplished on site. Not just use of the items, but configuration of the items also.

With appropriate feedback from the endpoint devices you shouldn't need to be on-site, unless a device has failed and it needs to be physically replaced - don't you think?
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post #197 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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Properly designed, there should be no difference between the UI served up from the network and the one used on site.

Roundtrip time though will be much worse and in some scenarios, unacceptable. Imagine hitting the up button to change FM Frequencies. Having each click take 200 ms would be pretty annoying.
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post #198 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 05:41 PM
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To touch on the other side of this conversation.... price. Touchscreens have been hugely expensive for HA applications. A good example of cost and scale is the new iPad. While certainly not optimized for HA it does contain most of the technology needed for HA. And its only 500 bucks. What if Apple decided to produce the iSwitch? Using Bonjure as a connection tool? They would be 25 bucks per? The HA industry doesn't want to grow... they are making too much money the way things are now.

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post #199 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 05:45 PM
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The control system can't be in the cloud, period. It creates an unnecessary potential point of failure. Internet access is out in the neighborhood and you cant control your home? I cant imagine a scenario where there is any benefit for the end user with this approach. I cant imagine having the nerve to charge someone for this "service" and then saying "sorry" when things don't work and i don't have control over making them work because the ISP dropped the ball.
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post #200 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by rtbatch View Post

Properly designed, there should be no difference between the UI served up from the network and the one used on site.

Once again, that's true, but not really meaningful, because there would be no benefit to the home owner to having it served up from the network, to offset the availability and responsiveness that they'd give up.

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post #201 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 06:29 PM
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So, rtbatch, what wiring are you installing in your new home, before the drywall goes up?

Netstreams would be another consideration for a control system. They seem to be all about HA using IP.

http://www.netstreams.com/residential.php

http://www.netstreams.com/commproducts.php?ID=2&PId=139

http://www.cepro.com/article/post-ac...si_av_control/

If you overwire with cat6, you'll prob be just fine, though I suggest 14 or 16 AWG speaker cables.

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post #202 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 06:56 PM
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The control system can't be in the cloud, period. It creates an unnecessary potential point of failure. Internet access is out in the neighborhood and you cant control your home? I cant imagine a scenario where there is any benefit for the end user with this approach. I cant imagine having the nerve to charge someone for this "service" and then saying "sorry" when things don't work and i don't have control over making them work because the ISP dropped the ball.

When thinking about today's typical usage patterns for HA and today's Internet connection characteristics (i.e. bandwidth, reliability, latency), then it is indeed hard to make a case for putting the controller out in the cloud.

However, certain usage patterns around emerging functionality can change the story. One general case where pushing the controller to the cloud has potential benefits is where functionality draws heavily from data sources that are themselves out in the cloud. If you're thinking about pressing CHANNEL UP, then the round trip through the cloud seems quite silly. If you're thinking about showing video search results that appear as 8 way Picture-In-Picture, the economics change significantly. Overall, different users will value different functionality, so different solutions/architectures will suit different homes.

In the longer run, as Gb/sec Internet finds it's way to the home and availability approaches/exceeds five 9's, the cost of putting the controller out in the cloud decreases. When factoring in the potential for lower support costs (i.e. fewer truck rolls), the case for a cloud based controller starts to become more apparent.

Again, I'm not trying to push this architecture. I'm just suggesting that the analysis may not be as cut and dried as might otherwise be thought.
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post #203 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by crosen View Post

When thinking about today's typical usage patterns for HA and today's Internet connection characteristics (i.e. bandwidth, reliability, latency), then it is indeed hard to make a case for putting the controller out in the cloud.

While this is an issue IMO its not the primary concern. The major problem i see with it as an integrator is that i have no control over the cloud's reliability because the ISP owns the backbone that it rides into the clients home.

If a Crestron processor fails i have control over solving that problem.

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However, certain usage patterns around emerging functionality can change the story. One general case where pushing the controller to the cloud has potential benefits is where functionality draws heavily from data sources that are themselves out in the cloud. If you're thinking about pressing CHANNEL UP, then the round trip through the cloud seems quite silly. If you're thinking about showing video search results that appear as 8 way Picture-In-Picture, the economics change significantly. Overall, different users will value different functionality, so different solutions/architectures will suit different homes.

It is my opinion that a local processor/control system pulling video search results (and other similar scenarios) is the way it will work. Much as it already does. If the internet connection is lost my client loses his stock information and his video search results but he can still watch TV and adjust his lights if he wants to.
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post #204 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by crosen View Post

In the longer run, as Gb/sec Internet finds it's way to the home and availability approaches/exceeds five 9's, the cost of putting the controller out in the cloud decreases. When factoring in the potential for lower support costs (i.e. fewer truck rolls), the case for a cloud based controller starts to become more apparent.

The cost of keeping the controller local will always be less expensive no matter what technology is created or improved in the future. The extra hardware/services and potential fees will always cost more.

In an imagined world where the CI or Control system company owns millions of servers and every device in the home of every client connects with a Cat5 and communicates over IP is a long way off and IMO a step sideways instead of forward. The possibility of a connection drop is always there.
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post #205 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 07:22 PM
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It is my opinion that a local processor/control system pulling video search results (and other similar scenarios) is the way it will work. Much as it already does. If the internet connection is lost my client loses his stock information and his video search results but he can still watch TV and adjust his lights if he wants to.

It may be that I'm putting too much emphasizs on a certain potential benefit to a cloud based controller, but I don't know yet that I've clearly articulated that potential benefit. I'll stick with video search and flesh out the example:

User types a search term in to a form and clicks ENTER. The screen populates with, say, a four x two grid of squares where each square is showing a different video stream, thus showing the top eight hits for the search.

Option A - Controller at Home: In this case, there are eight separate low def video streams going over the line to the home.

Option B - Controller in the Cloud: In this case, there is a single high def video stream going over the line to the home (i.e the stream is a composite image created by the controller in the cloud.)

While the total pixel rate over the line is the same in both cases, case A will require considerably more bandwidth, since there is overhead for managing eight streams instead of one.


Can you pick at this example? Of course! But, I'm hoping to convey a particular advantage that exists when a processor is in the cloud - an advantage that is fundamental to the architecture, even if the architecture comes with other disadvantages that in some/most cases makes it less appealing. The fact that in SOME cases the architecture has advantages makes it worth keeping in mind, in my opinion.
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post #206 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 07:33 PM
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It may be that I'm putting too much emphasizs on a certain potential benefit to a cloud based controller, but I don't know yet that I've clearly articulated that potential benefit. I'll stick with video search and flesh out the example:

User types a search term in to a form and clicks ENTER. The screen populates with, say, a four x two grid of squares where each square is showing a different video stream, thus showing the top eight hits for the search.

Option A - Controller at Home: In this case, there are eight separate low def video streams going over the line to the home.

Option B - Controller in the Cloud: In this case, there is a single high def video stream going over the line to the home (i.e the stream is a composite image created by the controller in the cloud.)

While the total pixel rate over the line is the same in both cases, case A will require considerably more bandwidth, since there is overhead for managing eight streams instead of one.


Can you pick at this example? Of course! But, I'm hoping to convey a particular advantage that exists when a processor is in the cloud - an advantage that is fundamental to the architecture, even if the architecture comes with other disadvantages that in some/most cases makes it less appealing. The fact that in SOME cases the architecture has advantages makes it worth keeping in mind, in my opinion.

IMO your example in this particular case could easily be labeled a source that the local control processor manages.

To be clear i am not arguing processor power/ability. I am perfectly happy that AT&T manages the cell network for me on their end so my cell phone can be small enough to fit in my pocket. I am referring to the main control system processors level of reliability when located locally vs off site in the cloud.

My "argument" is that you are going to need a black box of some sort locally to deal with things anyway and the fact that the internet connection can be lost means (to me anyway) that there is no benefit to moving the control processor off site.

Adding.. My last sentence isnt entirely what i meant. I understand there might be a benefit to moving the processor off site but my stance is that we lose a level of control over reliability that isnt worth the trade off.
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post #207 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 07:35 PM
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The cost of keeping the controller local will always be less expensive no matter what technology is created or improved in the future. The extra hardware/services and potential fees will always cost more.

In an imagined world where the CI or Control system company owns millions of servers and every device in the home of every client connects with a Cat5 and communicates over IP is a long way off and IMO a step sideways instead of forward. The possibility of a connection drop is always there.

I'm not sure why you feel so strongly that the economics of moving hardware to the cloud are never favorable. In the corporate world where these decisions are very carefully examined, it is often found that running applications in the cloud is to the advantage of the organization, and this takes into account the risk of downtime due to the connection loss. I know that enterprise applications are not the same as home applications, but the analogy serves a certain usefuleness and I don't know what data exists that suggests otherwise.
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post #208 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 07:37 PM
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If i had to put it into a sentence i think it would be...

The cloud should be used for services/content and a local solution should be used for control.
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post #209 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 07:42 PM
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I'm not sure why you feel so strongly that the economics of moving hardware to the cloud are never favorable. In the corporate world where these decisions are very carefully examined, it is often found that running applications in the cloud is to the advantage of the organization, and this takes into account the risk of downtime due to the connection loss. I know that enterprise applications are not the same as home applications, but the analogy serves a certain usefuleness and I don't know what data exists that suggests otherwise.

Moving software and data to he cloud is one thing. Controlling a residences subsystems and AV are something different.

An automation control processor handles hardware locally via IR/RS-232/IP/Relays etc. So if we move the OS and project file to the cloud we still need a box that handles hardware locally. This is what i mean by not being able to bring cost down by moving it to the cloud. IMO you are adding to the line items on the hardware list by creating a link in the chain.
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post #210 of 255 Old 03-08-2010, 07:47 PM
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I'll say this much - I know you are a Crestron provider, and that means no compromise on reliability. For that class of system, the idea of moving the controller to the cloud or otherwise relying on the Internet in any substantial way for system operation is, I agree, a non starter (barring any major development in communication infrastructure.)
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