Utility Services(Standard / Managed) over the Cloud
Nothing can have value without being an object of utility - Karl Marx
This effort is to capture how Utilities can harness the capabilities of Cloud by running various applications on SAAS way. The practice of ASP model (Client-Server) has extended to Software as a Service (SAAS). SAAS is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted which also called "on-demand software". SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications. The proposed software architecture in Utility is around usage of multi-tenant architecture, in which the application serves multiple businesses and users, with partitioned data accordingly.
In a scenario wherein every end measuring device in the grid is smart, it is quite a challenge to acquire data from geographically spread to a central location in a readable format for further analysis keeping in mind the security and interoperability (DLMS) with various makes and versions of devices with various protocols.
The schema involves
- Measuring Device.
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).
- Meter Data Acquisition (MDA) &
- Meter Data Management (MDM)
MDM helps analyze the data. The data exchange done between MDA and MDM is through a standard data format like XML, CSV etc. After analyzing the data, action is taken as per the Business Intelligence. Without the proper management of data, its value is limited within the organization. So, for the potential benefit of AMI to be realized, the availability of a robust, reliable MDM system is a critical component. The MDM system must be able to interface relatively easily with multiple device data collection systems, across numerous communication platforms, and manage very large volumes of meter data (interval, register and events i.e. tamper and outage data) into manageable and usable information scope
In order to deliver the appropriate technological solutions, metering and software solution providers need to develop their levels of flexibility, allowing them to contribute at different levels of the utility value chain. Furthermore, SIs(System Integrators) must be able to leverage their past knowledge and experiences to deliver an optimized solution for each utility’s specific needs. This is easier said than done and requires a portfolio that offers not just advanced metrology, meter data collection and meter data management solutions, but also analysis tools such as forecasting, meter data web presentment, load management and revenue protection applications to leverage this data throughout the organization. All these functions add more value at a lower cost to the utility and their customers when the solutions are appropriately integrated into a complete smart metering solution. SAAS helps the cause.
The SAAS solution should handle standard AMI processes/services such as:
- Requests for smart meter data and events
- Requests for real time values from the smart meter
- Requests for Smart meter interval data
- Requests for Smart meter parameters configuration
- Remote connect/disconnect of load.
- Smart meter and network health check
- Smart meter commissioning and de-commissioning requests
- Exception handling
- Should retry failed requests based on the number of retries configured
- Track history of transactions and provide audit reports
Smart Grid important features of all are Asset Management System (AMS), Outage management systems (OMS), Power Quality Management System (PQMS) and Power Load Management System (PLMS). These features are enabled by the logic or business intelligence built in the software systems at the HES, which includes the MDMS and MDA. The end devices, i.e., 1Phase, 3 Phase (LT-CT & WC) and HT (PT-CT) meters are enabled with software / firmware working on Real Time Operating System (RTOS) for data logging and event logging. This software enables measurement of current, voltage, and energy usage & data analysis in real time.
Processes or services, i.e., Connect/Disconnect, GPS Sync, Retrieve / Fixed Commands can be enabled on the cloud. The devices keep pumping the data of various parameters as like current, voltage, phase-wise and other configured essential parameters(as per DLMS) to the HES. The HES based on the BI built-in would initiate Process/Service, i.e., for example Connect or Disconnect a device or based on the inputs would disconnect at transformer level or divert the load requirement or Syncing the GPS Clock a new device placed in the Grid.
The multi-tenancy can be economical because software development and maintenance costs are shared. For example, can run one instance of its application on one instance of a database and provide web access to multiple customers. In such a scenario, each tenant’s data is isolated and remains invisible to other tenants. In this way customers do not share or see each other’s data.
Software as a service (SaaS) is an alternative to the standard software installation in the business environment (traditional model) where a user has to build the server, install the application and configure it. In SaaS, the user does not pay for the software itself. Instead, it works like a rental. A few benefits are reduced time to benefit, lower costs, scalability and integration, New releases (upgrades) and Easy to use and perform proof of concepts. Pricing model used by SaaS vendors is the pay-as-you-go billing model, which typically charges for the number of users and the amount of resources (e.g. volume of storage space, CPU usage, etc.) being consumed during a given time period. ROII is also catching up, RIIO (Revenue=Incentives + Innovation + Outputs), a new performance based model for setting the network companies’ price controls.
The system integrators can bundle services into mandatory and as required to charge, which would help over uniform pricing, TOU & TOD(Time of Usage/Day) usage can be encouraged and above all being secure. Going SAAS way helps utilities tide over the complex hosting of application and usage. It helps keeping transparency of billing the consumer and gaining from the services created on demand. Thus helping the cause of being price effective in solutioning for the utilities, that’s by being SaaSy.