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This ICT/OT convergence trend is encouraging new entrants into the vendor ecosystem that supports electric, gas, and water utilities. One of the latest entrants is Dell Computers.
Dell made two announcements in the past two months that illustrate how ICT companies are exploring Smart Grid market opportunities. 2013 will be the year to watch their strategies and progress.
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Dell recently unveiled their Smart Grid Data Management Solution which combines high-performance computing, networking and storage to manage data for review and action in utility operations. Leveraging domain expertise and the PI System™ from OSIsoft, they developed and tested a reference architecture in a simulation environment that modeled a utility’s transmission grid operations.
Transmission grids have been one of the early beneficiaries of the Smart Grid through products called Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs), which are extremely high speed monitors that sense changes in transmission conditions. Taking hundreds of measurements per second from multiple PMUs leads to large quantities of data that challenge existing data storage practices in utilities.
Dell’s solution coupled with OSIsoft’s solution provides faster updates and makes actionable data available to staff, applications and business systems. It’s an excellent example of how M2M communications and data management technologies can become ubiquitous in the Smart Grid.
This is a noteworthy collaboration between a traditional ICT vendor (Dell) and a traditional OT vendor (OSIsoft) that is focused on grid operations. But Dell has also signaled its intent to get involved in the consumer side of the electricity value chain by joining the Pecan Street Inc.
Advisory Board. Pecan Street is an energy and smart grid research and development organization, and serves as a living laboratory with a community microgrid characterized by residence-based solar generation, electric vehicles (EVs), energy efficiency and energy management solutions for homes. The project is conducting research in the brave new world of consumer/prosumer evolutions and their energy interactions through data analytics.
While the term “big data” is used in this project, its volumes are dwarfed by the volumes of data that are generated by today’s PMU deployments. Similarly, if smart meters ever provide data to utilities at 15 minute intervals, that would constitute really big data, at least as analytics providers in financial services or telecommunications would define it.
It’s more accurate to describe the Pecan Street project as one that offers horizontal complexity and scalability as the types of devices, with all their variations in hardware, firmware, and software will need to be managed in addition to the networks that connect them. There aren’t too many analytics companies out there that can offer this expertise, and the best ones are proven performers in other industry sectors outside of electric utilities.
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