SAP is a Gold Sponsor of Itron’s Utility Week in Houston, Oct. 15-17.  Below is a brief overview of what we will be showcasing. Please visit the SAP and Itron IEE MDM booths at this event for more details.

 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” —Charles Darwin

In recent months, press and utility trade articles have covered digital transformation and why utilities need to transform their core business technology. Companies understand that this dynamic is crucial for them ensure their survival, but according the SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study, only 3 percent of companies have completed transformation projects. In this study, successful projects show common characteristics.

According to the article, “leaders invest more heavily in next-gen technologies, especially big data and analytics, the Internet of Things and machine learning. They do so using a bimodal architecture so that they can make their core infrastructure more effective and cost efficient while quickly incorporating innovations and new technologies to get ahead of the competition.”

Meter Data is Key

Meter data solutions are the lifeblood of a utility —they allow utilities to bill customers and generate revenue—but the data has so much more potential value if only it could be unlocked by the platform technology on which it resides. Existing platforms limit reporting and analytic capability, preventing utilities from addressing their pressing operational and customer satisfaction issues efficiently. Instead, they are addressed with architectural workarounds and point solutions causing increased latency, data redundancy and hindered flexibility.

To enable utilities to transform their digital core, exploit the power of their meter data and implement new initiatives, SAP and Itron have partnered to deliver the Itron Enterprise Edition TM (IEE) Meter Data Management (MDM) solution powered on SAP HANA®. This will not only provide the core of next-generation MDM solutions, but it will allow utilities to utilize the power of data that is locked up in their current MDM solution.

The Digital Utility Challenge

Meter data no longer serves a single purpose to support customer billing. It can be used for real-time analysis to forecast and balance load, monitor and improve energy efficiency and reliability, optimize energy portfolio profitability, and much more. Additionally, it can be used by customers in new ways, enabling capabilities like bill analysis and rate scenario modeling, resulting in improved customer control of their energy costs and ultimately higher customer satisfaction.

As new technologies are introduced into the utility like smart street lights, distribution system reclosers, transformer monitoring and a myriad of monitoring and controllable IoT devices, the volume, velocity and variety of data will increase exponentially. This places a tremendous load on existing platforms that are barely coping with AMI data today. Existing platforms are limited in:

  1. Data Ingestion: In large meter environments, the underlying DB cannot handle the volume of data coming into the system at current rates. Some utilities would like to increase this rate and add new digital/IoT devices, thereby compounding the issue.
  2. Data Capacity: Traditional transactional systems have their limitations for the size of data that can be efficiently handled.
  3. Data Analytics: Data needs to be replicated to secondary data stores/warehouses, which creates not only time delays but significantly increases infrastructure and management costs.

Figure 1: The Digital Utility

Meter Data Management applications, such as IEE MDM, have traditionally operated as standalone applications focused on core functions like data ingestion, data validation and storage, and data calculations for billing.  Those core functions are no longer sufficient to meet a utility’s business needs.  Now, utilities need to combine meter data with other data sources (customer, asset, geospatial, etc.) to address the expectations of their customers and to meet increasingly demanding regulatory requirements.  As the need for these additional capabilities emerge, the only solution has been to make redundant copies of the meter data outside of the current platform, which cannot handle this additional load. Those siloed solutions tend to separate operational and analytical functions.

  1. Operational: Due to platform limitations, some utilities run two or more MDM systems to handle the ingestion volume from the AMI—even more data silos will be created for smart grids, demand response systems, etc.
  2. Analytical: To meet operational requirements, data is replicated out to various warehousing solutions for reporting.

Unfortunately, this approach adds solution complexity and cost and is fraught with issues related to data transformation (multiple versions of the truth) and batch processing latency (daily/weekly/monthly).  As data volumes and processing demands only increase with IoT expansion, those siloed operational and analytical components become unmanageable; a single platform solution that meets both requirements simultaneously with low speed and agility is needed.

What is SAP HANA?

SAP HANA is an in-memory, streaming, transactional and analytics data platform that enables accelerated business processes, greater business intelligence and a simplified IT environment. By providing the foundation for a utility’s data needs, SAP HANA removes the burden of maintaining separate legacy systems and siloed data. Utilities can run live and leverage information that enables more effective business decisions in the new digital economy.

Figure 2: SAP HANA Platform

SAP HANA is the market-leading platform that can eliminate redundant data silos.  It allows utilities to transact, store and analyze data in one place; something that was previously desired, but not feasible. Once data is centralized and integrated on a highly scalable and adaptable platform, advanced analytical applications can be built to address spatial, predictive and streaming data use cases on a single platform without the need for incremental data silo investment.

When implemented, SAP HANA will introduce significant savings for utilities and allow them to unleash the power of their meter data, while ensuring they have the platform that will meet their future data volume needs.

Why SAP and Itron?

Both SAP and Itron are committed to increasing the efficiency of our customers.  We believe that evolving software solutions are higher-value assets that will enable utilities to become more efficient. Together, SAP and Itron can offer a solution to meet existing analytic requirements and a platform for future initiatives. IEE MDM and SAP HANA will enable utilities to initiate their digital transformation journey, thereby eliminating data silos, driving cost and complexity out of the meter-to-cash scenarios, improving operational efficiency and providing real-time advanced analytical capabilities—all on a single platform.

Figure 3: SAP / Itron Value Proposition

SAP HANA is the market-leading, enterprise-ready transactional and analytics platform that meets the needs of next generation digital and metering solutions. IEE MDM is the market leading meter-agnostic, AMI and traditionally read meter data management solution serving 38 million of meters in the field today. Together, these solutions we will help utilities reduce costs and transform to meet the needs of the digital era.

Itron Utility Week

SAP is a Gold Sponsor of Itron Utility Week in Houston, Oct. 15-17. Visit the SAP and IEE MDM booths at this event for more details.

  • SAP Booth: Please join us at the SAP booth in the Knowledge Center to see and discuss the solution in more detail or schedule time with SAP executives.
  • Itron IEE MDM Booth: The staff at the Itron IEE MDM booth will be available to discuss roadmaps, implementation, etc.
  • Session: SAP and Itron will discuss the Itron IEE MDM on SAP HANA solution in a breakout session titled “Update on IEE MDM Support for SAP HANA Database” on Monday, Oct. 16 from 1:15-2 p.m. in Liberty A&B.

Additional Resources

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Karl Hoffmann
Vice President, Global Channels and Platform Go-To-Market - SAP
Karl Hoffmann is vice president of SAP’s Global Channels and Platform Go-To-Market. With a 20-year track record of leading focused, business outcomes-based technology programs, he is now chartered with expanding SAP’s ecosystems of application (ISV’s) partners who utilize SAP’s platform.