This article first appeared in the Winter issue of The Record.
Cloud computing usage rates are growing almost 50% annually, according to market analysis from Cisco. The same report also concludes that within the next three years, 83% of all data centre traffic will be based in the cloud. CIOs no longer ask if they should use the cloud, but rather how they can best take advantage of cloud services.
Indeed, cloud computing is becoming more prevalent across all industries, including the utility industry. As consumers’ needs evolve and demands for quick, convenient service increase, the utility industry is adapting and becoming smarter. It is turning to the cloud to revolutionise the way utilities collect data and, in turn, provide valuable insights to customers.
Continuing this trend, Itron will consolidate its software solutions around the globe into a single platform built on Microsoft Azure, the largest enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure available today. Microsoft Azure will be the backbone for Itron Total Outcomes, which provides business outcomes that address utility and smart city challenges in an ‘outcomes as a service’ model to lower costs and improve performance.
With Microsoft Azure, Itron will enable a new range of services around its products, including solar integration, leak detection and analytics. Utilities and cities will benefit from different types of data coming together in one place, generating new intelligence and insights. For example, solar-related services will bring together accurate, real-time data related to consumption, usage patterns and panel temperature, and combine it with weather and geolocation data to drive further insights into energy efficiency and asset health. For gas utilities, detecting leaks through cloud-based applications and services that monitor pressure, temperature and pipeline stress will enhance safety and protect revenue. For water, providing early warnings of potential water leakage using real-time usage readings from households can prevent high-risk situations that lead to large reparation expenses or liability payouts.
Using this cloud platform gives Itron access to highly scalable and durable cloud storage, backup and recovery. This will create a more standardised approach for applications development, creating rapid deployments as development teams have access to the same environment and software. Itron will also be able to release automated software updates to customers on a frequent basis as opposed to annually. Itron’s migration to Microsoft Azure will allow the company to focus on solving problems for its customers instead of maintaining IT infrastructure.
Combining Itron’s vast experience in the resourceful management of energy and water with Microsoft’s expertise in cloud computing, big data analytics, and security and privacy will help utilities make the most of the information from their systems. They will gain greater insights into their operations and improve efficiency and costs – all at a faster pace.
Greg Richards is vice president of DevOps at Itron
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