4 min read

Part 3: The Horizontal Architecture [Nexus Newsletter #127]

Hey friends,

Let's continue our series on Nexus Lore: the core concepts that come up again and again in this newsletter, on the Nexus podcast, in the Nexus Foundations course, in Nexus Pro gatherings, and in the community chatroom.

If you want to start at the beginning, check out our white paper with all 10 parts: Nexus Lore.

Lore is never written by one person, so send us your feedback for v2!

Let's dive into part 3...

The Horizontal Architecture

“I see a lot of people buying apps before they’ve bought the smartphone. (Our current smart building strategy) is really about building up that smartphone foundation.”
—Jon Clarke, Dexus, on episode 62 of the Nexus podcast

Point solutions are full vertical stacks, but what makes each valuable is the application layer, not the rest of the stack. If point solutions represent phase 1 of the smart buildings industry, phase 2 is the response: the horizontal architecture.  

Building owners are realizing they don't want to buy redundant layers from different application vendors, they want any application they buy (now and in the future) to share common infrastructure.

Another way to think about this phase change: we're moving from a smart buildings project mindset to a smart buildings program mindset. Projects are single-focused, time-bound, and implemented in silos. Programs are comprehensive, ongoing, and integrated into core operating procedures—and the architecture must match this new approach.

So what are the horizontal layers? There isn't one standard yet. The digital buildings team at Google created the Building Operating System concept. The crew at Monday Live! created The Smarter Stack framework. I'm sure there are many more out there.

Looking at these, plus all our podcast interviews and approaches I've heard about, here's my best crack at synthesizing everything I've learned on this.

A horizontal architecture for smart buildings technology

Starting at the bottom, we have horizontal layers (devices, converged network, and independent data layer) that enable bi-directional communication with overlay software applications. Portfolio level standards (e.g. cybersecurity) determine how each layer is set up, how each layer is maintained, and how new devices are introduced.

To me, the nerdy details of each layer are fun to explore (and we will over the next few weeks), but the most interesting question is: what does our agreement on this new approach mean for the future?

Imagine a future where every building's Devices, Network, and Data Layers are set up to scalably, securely, and reliably enable any smart building application. If that were true, ALL of the outcomes we’re collectively working towards will be easier.

That doesn’t mean we should halt all progress with deploying new cutting edge applications. But pursuing applications without acknowledging the importance of the infrastructure needs to be an artifact of the past.

Do you agree?

Let us know on LinkedIn,

—James Dice, Founder of Nexus Labs

P.S. Our summer private cohort schedule is booking up quickly. We have one more spot open for a private cohort in June/July. Perfect for teams with a lot of industry newcomers! Hit reply or check out the Foundations course website for more info.

✖ At the Nexus

Here’s everything worth sharing from Nexus HQ this week:

The Lens: Measurabl + Hatch Data (Pro members only)—Measurabl, a software and service provider focused on ESG data and reporting, acquired energy management & analytics software and service provider Hatch Data. In this edition of the Lens, we unpack the why and the context behind the news.


★ PODCAST: 🎧 #100: Decarbonization, blockchain, and the Building OS with KPMG and Prescriptive DataEpisode 100 is a fun, dynamic and enlightening conversation with Tegan Keele, the leader of KPMG's Climate Data and Technology practice, and Sonu Panda, CEO of Prescriptive Data, the makers of the building operating system software called Nantum OS.

We talked about how the SEC’s new carbon disclosure regulations will change the game for real estate, how new technology can improve upon the mess that is carbon accounting and reporting today, the potential role of blockchain technology in decarbonization efforts, how Nantum OS helps building owners with decarbonization, and more.



  • Subject Matter Expert Workshop: Pro member Matt White, Vice President, Building Solutions at Buildings IOT, presented on the intersection of the Master Systems Integrator (MSI) role and the Independent Data Layer (IDL). Why is it ideal to have the MSI as the provider / owner / developer of that IDL? What are the advantages of an IDL that has been influenced by the experience of an MSI? How does having an IDL change the dynamics and impact of an MSI on a project?
  • Member Gathering: James and Pro member Andrew Knueppel of Cushman Wakefield will discuss the three categories of MSIs in the marketplace today. Plus, breakout rooms for networking!

Join Nexus Pro now to get the invites and access to the recordings.


★ ON LINKEDIN: Celebrating 100 episodes of the Nexus Podcast!


★ READ OF THE WEEK: The KPIs of the Office of the Future


👋 That's all for this week. See you next Tuesday!