It’s no secret that technology is transforming industries. One technology shift in particular is relevant to all of us because it has a direct impact on the places we tend to do business – buildings. Many building owners are using an IP-enabled Building Automation System (BAS) to streamline operations and deliver a standout experience to their occupants (like me and you).

Have you really ever thought about how much you interact with your office building? Your first badge scan opens the door to a world of behind-the-scenes activity. The lights turn on when you walk in the break room for your morning coffee. You ride the elevator up to your floor. Maybe stop for a drink at the water fountain. These things seem to happen by themselves, but someone is behind the management of all of it. And how that management takes place makes all the difference.

Converged, end-to-end management helps building owners and developers ensure a comfortable and secure environment. Real-time visibility and control enable building operators to adjust systems for the best occupant experience. And automation helps ensure consistency.

Sounds great, right?

Topology trouble

Unfortunately, many IP-based BAS projects struggle to balance both budget and reliability requirements. And that stops many efforts before any benefits can be realized.

The roadblocks center on network topology. For a long time, the available options haven’t been able to provide the right balance of cost and reliability.

Star topology connects all endpoints through a single hub. But it requires the most wiring. And the highest number of ports/network switches. That makes it too expensive for many budgets.

Daisy chain configuration is the other option. It links IP network devices in a linear fashion. If a link goes down, everything downstream does too. This setup reduces wiring and network port needs, but it also offers the least network resiliency.

The thing about ring

Ring topology offers the best of both worlds. In this configuration, every device on the network is connected to two devices. Data flows from device to device in a circular pattern. The last device is connected to the first.

It’s less expensive and less labor-intensive to install than a star configuration. It requires less wiring, too. Leveraging bidirectional connections in the ring model enables network redundancy to prevent downtime.

While common in industrial applications, ring topology has long been unviable for digital building projects. Without a ring-enabled, bidirectional IP controller, the right protocol, and the right IP networking infrastructure, it wasn’t technically feasible or cost-effective.

However, recent innovations from Cisco and Johnson Controls are making the ring topology a viable possibility.

Johnson Controls Metasys® MRP-enabled ring topology support, connected by Cisco

Cisco and Johnson Controls have enabled ring topology support—connected by Cisco technology—in the latest release of the Metasys Building Automation System.

The jointly developed solution enables you to deploy Metasys IP controllers in a circular data path. It’s built using the Media Redundancy Protocol (MRP), an open standard for ring topologies that enables the network to quickly compensate for failures.

This brief video explains how Metasys helps ensure an exceptional occupant experience:

Since Metasys can support up to 100 IP controllers per ring, it enables a significant reduction in the number of ports required for the BAS network.

End-to-end security ensures all BAS controllers and applications are protected from malicious activity. Integrated firewalls are available to protect and isolate both the building and IT networks.

A flexible foundation for your digital building

Building operators and managers can now achieve key outcomes faster and more cost-effectively. And building owners can ensure their investments are ready to support future technologies. Our solution can easily be integrated into existing IT systems, too.

Because network connection functionality is controlled via software, you can use the Metasys controllers in any of the network topologies: ring, star, and daisy chain. Automated tools and configurations make it easy to deploy.

As connected building technologies continue to evolve, it will be critical to have a reliable, efficient, and secure IP-based network in place. Cisco and Johnson Controls are ready to help you implement the ring-based solution you need to take advantage of today and tomorrow’s innovations.

Learn more about the latest Metasys release today.


Matthew Ingram

Social Media and Blog Manager

Global Partner Marketing