Integrating Data from Disparate Assets
When an integrator is selected to develop and deploy a security solution, the first step is to survey the edge assets the client seeks to connect in a converged system. Due to the variety of edge assets, including video cameras, RFID systems, and other sensors, the mechanisms that make available data from these assets is diverse. For instance, data from edge assets can be made available through databases and files, via network protocols (i.e. TCP/IP or UDP and in IPv4 or IPv6), through Web services, physical input/output (I/O) ports, and managed or unmanaged code available via software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs).
Looking at it through the eyes of a systems integrator, it is necessary to know how data from each edge asset is available, how the data can be integrated into a solution and to have software that can assist with the integration through simple configuration. In the past, the systems integrator would have had two options when interfacing the edge assets within a system " writing customized software to handle the interface or use separate middleware applications to connect each specific edge asset.
Recalling the edge assets within the integration scenario"-video cameras, RFID-based access control systems, and multiple types of environmental threat sensors"-you may require multiple integration methods. For example, the video devices may be IP-based video cameras that include HTTP interfaces, the RFID-based access control system could include a common database and the multiple wireless environmental threat sensor systems could include HTTP web services interfaces and network communication protocols such as Modbus over TCP/IP.
While integrating the data from these assets may sound difficult and time consuming, an integrator can now accomplish this integration very easily with the appropriate platform technologies. Integrators can simply configure the components of the Augusta Systems platform technologies to receive data from each edge asset. With rich integration methods, which enable integration of data via database readers, file readers, TCP clients/servers, UDP sockets, serial ports, HTTP providers, web methods, managed calls and unmanaged calls, these technologies provide an easy-to-deploy solution.
The IP video cameras can interface through the HTTP provider components, the access control system can interface via the database reader component, and the multiple environmental threat sensor systems can interface through the web method component or the TCP client component. Once this data integration is complete, the systems integrator would move to normalize the data to allow for processing and correlation.
Beyond integration of data from these edge assets, the integrator must also normalize the data to ensure it is available for processing. Edge asset data can be transmitted many different protocols, standards and formats. To use raw data effectively, the data must be interpreted and structured. Whether parsing raw, comma delimited ASCII data, XML data, database rows, or web method responses, the task of interpreting and structuring raw edge asset data has historically been a cumbersome, time-consuming task.
Generally, raw data interpretation and structuring involves very low-level, complex code-intensive activities that add cost and time to solution deployments. Utilizing intelligent platform technologies, however, integrators have flexible tools to normalize data from different formats, standards, and protocols in which data is transmitted. Using components to create data structures that store the incoming edge asset data, the integrator can define how the raw data is parsed, divided, and converted into actual readings. The result is protocol conversion and data transformation.
In the integration scenario, using Augusta Systems technologies, the systems integrator would advance normalization, first, by creating a data structure to store the incoming data from each edge asset. The systems integrator would then define a specific integration component relationship (i.e. network connection, database connection, web services, etc.) related to each data structure for each edge asset. After each data structure integration relationship is defined, the next step would be to create the data structure schema that defines how the raw data is parsed and structured into readable, table-based format. This completes the data normalization process.
Once the normalization of the edge asset data is complete, the next step would generally involve the addition of event-based rules to be applied to the incoming data to support intelligent processing, correlation and, if desired, automation of the security system.