Jaren Krchnavi| May 14, 2013

Making sense of smart grid data: Siemens-Teradata partnership

Torsten

Without good analysis, big data would be in big trouble. That's why Siemens recently partnered with Teradata, a global leader in analytic data platforms, applications and services.

The goal of this partnership is to offer utilities using Siemens smart grid solutions more insight into their network status and activities. This will improve reliability and enable more efficient and economical grid operation.

One of the architects of this partnership, Torsten Birn of Siemens Smart Grid Strategic Alliances, explained that Siemens chose to partner with Teradata because, after a stringent evaluation, Teradata proved to be the most technologically advanced and mature big data analytics provider.

"The key criteria for our decision was based on Teradata's high performance level, excellent data management capabilities, complete vision, wide partner ecosystem, future proof strategy and sound technology roadmap," he said.

In particular, Teradata's Unified Data Architecture will enable Siemens to develop utility use cases and aggregate them to packaged applications based on Teradata's Aster Data platform.

Why did Siemens need a partner at all? "In a world where the power grid has started to become a large part of the internet of things, you cannot do everything by yourself," said Birn. "Siemens has over 160 years of energy industry expertise and a complete end-to-end portfolio. Teradata is a global leader in business intelligence and big data analytics. Combining these two world class companies with capabilities across the entire energy supply chain benefits both companies, as well as the entire energy industry."

Smart grid devices generate a lot of data. One study cited by GigaOm estimated that when fully deployed, smart meters will generate 1,000 petabytes of data per year -- about five times the amount of data currently on AT&T's data network.

"Just imagine if smart meter load profile data was being transmitted by the minute, which could very well happen. And smart meters are only one piece of the picture," said Birn.

A recent Teradata blog post noted that smart grid data will also come from sources such as control centers, virtual power plants, syncophasors, transformers, substation sensors, social media, websites and computerized logs. With analysis, this volume of data could be turned into business intelligence for utilities.

How can utilities know which smart grid data are relevant? Birn observed that garbage in, garbage out is valid for all industries. "Having a single source of truth and clear processes for data governance (including data clearance) is the foundation for reliable reporting and data analysis."

This can be a challenge in utilities, since it means uniting data sources that have historically been organizationally siloed. But Birn emphasized that such integration is "the first step every utility must do. Only then can you begin to make real sense of your data."

Birn acknowledged that privacy and security are important concerns for smart grid data. "This is certainly a topic to be taken very seriously. Data security and privacy are a top priority at both Siemens and Teradata. Only a responsible approach to data with the highest security standards will allow us to really leverage the opportunities arising from the possible availability of large amounts of data. But to make this work, you need permission to capture and analyze smart grid data.

This requires a high level of trust from the utilities that would grant this privilege. "Building a trusting relationship with our customers -- based on technology, processes and people -- is absolutely key to ensure data protection while capitalizing on opportunities in a world driven by big data. And that's what we do," said Birn.

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