Open Minds And Steeleye Develop High Availability Edition Of Leading Intelligent Building Control Solution

Open Minds, the Birmingham-based integrator and SteelEye Technology partner, has developed a high availability edition of Tour Andover Controls’ Continuum® intelligent building control solution. 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 and 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 and 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.

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 and, 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 software 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 – avoiding prolonged failure of the system and, therefore, preventing any security or safety risks.

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 generally, there has also been discussion between Open Minds and Tour Andover Controls about extending the solution to become an offsite disaster recovery solution, and about producing a high availability version of Tour Andover Controls’ Web Client using Internet Information Services (IIS).

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, Managing Director of Open Minds High Availability Solutions, who performed the integration between LifeKeeper and Continuum, said: “In today’s world the cost of planned and unplanned downtime is under greater scrutiny than ever before, 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 and provided value added benefit to their customers.”

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 as a matter of course 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, and may even open doors by being more likely in the first place to meet the real needs of business customers.”

Related links:
Tour Andover Controls:
SteelEye Technology:
Open Minds:

About LifeKeeper Extender
LifeKeeper Extender delivers tools, examples and instructions to let you easily place any application under LifeKeeper protection. With an investment of only hours and without making any changes to the application code, protection for all critical business applications can be achieved.

About SteelEye Technology, Inc.
SteelEye is a leading provider of data and application availability management solutions for business continuity and disaster recovery.

The SteelEye LifeKeeper family of application-focused data replication, high availability clustering and disaster recovery solutions are easy to deploy and operate, and enable enterprises of all sizes to ensure continuous availability of business-critical applications, servers and data.

To complement its software solutions, SteelEye also provides a full range of high availability consulting and professional services to assist organizations with the assessment, design and implementation of solutions for ensuring High Availability within their environments.

The LifeKeeper Protected Program provides technology, training, support and guidance to design and deliver a tested and certified application monitoring module which will work with SteelEye’s LifeKeeper high availability clustering software. Learn more at

About Continuum®
From a full powered workstation to a desktop web interface, Continuum provides the software options you need to meet your ever-changing facility management requirements.

Continuum software brings integration to new heights with a complete set of tools to centrally manage as one seamless system the vast amounts of information your building generates every day. And because our software is native BACnet-compliant, operations personnel have access not only to alarms and reports from the Continuum controllers on the network, but from all the different subsystems in their facility (HVAC, access control/intrusion, fire & life safety, power/lighting, digital video, etc.), regardless of vendor. In addition, Continuum software provides instant web access to your building’s information from anywhere on the network!

About Tour Andover Controls
Tour Andover Controls’ parent company, Schneider Electric, is the world’s leading specialist in power and control. Tour Andover Controls brings to the marketplace one of the most integrated, innovative and globally supported building automation solutions in the market. Tour Andover Controls have Partners and Branches in over 75 Countries worldwide. When you do business with us, you can be sure that you are working with a Global force in Building environment automation.

Customers For Life: Tour Andover Controls is committed to being the highest value provider of the technologies and services that enable management of buildings. Our integrated, open systems create flexible buildings that are safe, secure, comfortable and environmentally efficient, while our portfolio of services deliver the intelligence required to manage and optimise building assets for their complete lifecycle.
About Open Minds
Open Minds provides software solutions, support, consultancy and training for high availability (fault resilience) and disaster recovery solutions for IT systems.

Open Minds’ strong team of technical consultants offer experience gained from many years of successfully implementing and supporting LifeKeeper solutions throughout the world.

Open Minds serves customers throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, and partners with VAR’s, software houses and systems integrators to provide a full technical backup including pre-sales, installation services and support required to fully implement a high-availability solution on Linux, Windows and Solaris. For more information, please visit

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