Haystack Connections

A Solution to Your Haystack, N4, SkySpark Interoperability Problems

by Larry Andriunas      Fall 2017

This article was originally published in Haystack Connections Magazine.

Haystack tagging in N4 and SkySpark is a hot topic these days. N4 is arguably the number one integration platform in the building automation space and SkySpark is arguably the best analytics platform for building data, so it makes sense that people are trying to get the data from each system synchronized. But there is a lot of confusion about the best way to do this.

Some history
The nHaystack module was created for the last generation of Niagara (commonly referred to as AX) because AX simply did not support tagging of any kind. Similar to the current version of BACnet, it allowed integrators to add “slots” to house meta-data for each point or device, but not as a native function of the framework. nHaystack, created open source by J2 Innovations, made it possible to get data from AX into SkySpark. They also created tools to make a tighter integration between their legacy product (largely built on the same database as SkySpark) and Niagara AX.

Fast forward to 2015 and the release of N4. Tridium recognized the need to incorporate a fully supported tagging mechanism into N4 out of the box, so they created Niagara tagging which allows for graphics, hierarchies, Niagara Analytics, alarms, and histories. They added “Name Spaces” that are not defined in Haystack but are a standardized function in N4. This new N4 tagging is Haystack compliant by the dictionary definition, but does not truly support the Haystack protocol for accessing the tags.

Most people assumed the new N4 tagging would be supported by the original open source nHaystack module. And maybe it will at some point, but it is not there yet. In the meantime, Kodaro, a Niagara 4 Developer, has created a new interoperability module for data sync called Haystack+. It bridges the gap between native Haystack products like SkySpark and the new N4 tagging options so that those who are migrating to the new Niagara 4 framework can continue using SkySpark and the Haystack tagging protocol.

How it works
The module drops into the N4 database using the Haystack Rest API and connects to a SkySpark database. The point data, history data and tags can be pushed into SkySpark from N4 at will. Once this connection is established, new tags can be created in N4 or SkySpark – the Haystack+ driver can sync in both directions. When data is going from SkySpark to N4, Haystack+ converts Sparks into Niagara alarms and creates them in Haystack compliant format. The driver also offers secure export-only functionality. The Kodaro Haystack+ driver is not open source and does have a licensing fee to support the engineering time needed to configure and upkeep the driver.

Find the driver download and user guide on our website.