T&D World Magazine

Microsoft Launches Software Architecture for 'Integrated Utility of the Future'

Microsoft Corp. has developed a reference architecture based on familiar, cost-effective Microsoft platforms that can serve as the basis for development of the "integrated utility of the future."

The Microsoft Smart Energy Reference Architecture (SERA) is Microsoft's first comprehensive reference architecture that addresses technology integration throughout the full scope of the smart energy ecosystem. The Microsoft SERA helps utilities by providing a method of testing the alignment of information technology with business processes to create an integrated utility. This is the second utility offering to be released from Microsoft in four months, following the announcement of Microsoft Hohm, an online application developed to enhance the experience of utilities' customers and provide further insight into the supply and demand of residential energy use.

As utilities attempt to develop new projects that are funded by national smart grid stimulus programs, they will need sound, tested technologies that help them proceed. Using Microsoft and industry partners' technologies, utilities will be able to implement solutions faster and more reliably than they could with solutions offered by competitors.

The Microsoft SERA has been endorsed by a number of global solutions providers whose energy industry solutions span the entire energy ecosystem -- from the power grid to the home. Microsoft Gold Certified Partners supporting SERA include Accenture, Alstom Power, AREVA, ESRI, Itron Inc. and OSIsoft Inc.

Microsoft has been working closely with key power industry partners to ensure that SERA addresses power utilities' IT infrastructure needs. Alstom Power, for example, has demonstrated its commitment to Microsoft by fully embracing SERA and sees this move as the first step in providing solutions for the new challenge raised by smart grids.

The Microsoft SERA for the smart energy ecosystem will help create a world where thousands of smart devices can seamlessly plug into the grid thanks to common standards and interoperability frameworks, just as the plug-and-play model allows thousands of devices to seamlessly plug into PCs today.

Consequently, utility industry systems integrators such as Accenture are leading proponents of the Microsoft SERA for smart grids.

"Microsoft's reference architecture provides an end-to-end solution that can position utilities to take operational performance and customer response to a higher level," said Greg Guthridge, utilities customer service practice lead at Accenture. "Their integrated architecture leverages proven Microsoft platforms to support new smart processes and customer support capabilities. Innovative solutions, especially in the area of visualization and analytics, support important new capabilities in a smart-enabled energy services organization."

As a result, the grid and the broader energy ecosystem can achieve the vision of becoming smarter as companies inject Microsoft and industry partners' software into the various control points in the power system, so that households and businesses have ready access to timely, user-friendly information that eventually can help them make more rational choices about their energy use.

The Microsoft SERA provides a road map for utilities to help identify and solve the integration issues facing grid and energy ecosystem advancement. It also empowers users to drive improvements in real time, as well as to accelerate continuous improvement over time.

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