Smart Grid News

Smart Grid News

Microsoft helping utilities improve IT/OT integration

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Experts say that Microsoft's Smart Energy Reference Architecture (SERA) is so important to the development of a more intelligent grid that it should be a necessity for all utilities, even if they do not purchase their equipment from Microsoft. 

Now, industry leaders are saying the same thing about SERA 2.0, which was released last month, according to the Smart Grid News. 

The news source noted that the new solution provides a look at the biggest drivers that are influencing how the smart grid industry is changing, as well as the most common and effective architectural principles and maturity models. The only section that deals specifically with Microsoft isn't found until the very last segment, suggesting any utility can benefit from the product. 

Jesse Berst, Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, wrote that it appears Microsoft is attempting to improve the integration of different business segments through the revised SERA. 

"I noticed one underlying theme," he wrote. "Microsoft is promoting the idea of the "integrated utility" -- a common computing platform and common data model for both the operational technology (OT) and the information technology (IT) sides of the company."

Berst added that utilities that still haven't installed some sort of utility-wide enterprise architecture may not be as competitive as their counterparts that have implemented such a system. To address this issue and create this type of architecture, Microsoft told utilities there are a few areas they can focus on. 

"[I]nvert your viewpoint. You must first consider the needs of enterprise as an integrated whole and then consider how to expose shared functionality through networked applications," the company said. "This kind of thinking is quite different from traditional monolithic application development."

Going to the cloud
According to the news source, SERA 2.0 includes a look at how important the cloud will be to utilities. If a power company properly implements cloud technology, it can lead to substantially lower operating costs in addition to more power available and more flexible power management strategies. A natural disaster, for example, has historically caused chaos among utilities as they work to repair damage. 

By using the cloud, utilities can quickly scale up their operations to give restorations the boosts they need. 

According to Greentech Media, cloud computing could also lead to huge changes in data analytics, which will become increasingly important as more intelligent electronic devices are integrated with the current electric grid. 

SUBNET's solutions allow utilities to manage their IEDs regardless of how the data is transferred, through the cloud or otherwise. 

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