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Scalable meter data management: EnergyIP passes 50MM test

The data generated by advanced metering infrastructure can quickly grow huge -- both as more meters get rolled out, and as each meter generates a larger amount of data. So utilities need meter data management solutions that can scale up fast. To demonstrate that its EnergyIP MDM platform is up to this challenge, eMeter, a Siemens business, recently conducted a test proving that EnergyIP can easily handle scaling up to the data equivalent of 50 million smart meters.

That"s about as many meters as might be deployed across an entire small country. But some large utilities plan to run at that scale -- either in terms of the number of meters, or collecting more sensor data from those meters.

In this video by Oracle Corp., Siemens Chief Architect Vikas Walia explains that eMeter partnered with Oracle and used Oracle"s Exadata Database Machine to simulate a huge volume of data -- thus achieving "Oracle Exadata Optimized" status through the Oracle PartnerNetwork.

"Without any changes to our EnergyIP software, and with a few days of setup, we were able to achieve the phenomenal numbers in terms of being able to process that workload in a little under nine hours," said Walia.

Specifically this test proved that, in less than nine hours, Energy IP can acquire meter data on a daily basis for 50 million meters, validate this data, conduct estimations for 2% of that sample population, and calculate billing determinants. And this only consumes about half of the system capacity, leaving room for further growth.

In addition to managing meter data for billing purposes, this capacity can help utilities make the most of analytics and other applications that run on top of the EnergyIP platform. It can also help utilities present data on a daily or even closer to real-time basis -- useful for customer web portals, internal reporting and decision making, interacting with the wholesale market and other purposes.

In an interview, eMeter Vice President Tom Lofgren noted some of the problems that can occur when MDM solutions don"t scale well.

"If your software can"t keep up with the influx of data on a daily basis, then every day it gets worse. You fall behind and can"t recover," he said.

For instance: "If you run bills across 20 working days per month, billing 5% of your meters on each day, you"re fine. But if you can only bill 5% of your meters per day -- if your system maxes out above that, and something interrupts your process like a large-scale outage that lasts several days -- you"ll fall behind," said Lofgren. "You could try adding more IT hardware to handle the load, but in the end you"ll wind up stuck on a dead-end road with no gas in the tank."

As a side benefit, running this test helped eMeter make improvements to Energy IP. Walia observed: "Every time we run major scale test, we learn new things. Without running to scale, you don"t know what kind of bottlenecks you"ll run into. In this case, we found things we didn"t expect and found ways to change or fix them and rearrange our application to achieve better performance."

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