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Smart Grid Driving Enterprise Architecture Requirements

October 27, 2011 – The smart grid enterprise software and services market in the U.S. is on track to hit $1.3 billion this year, with forecasts of $1.8 billion in 2015, indicating a larger significant worldwide market, According to Green Tech Media Research's latest report, The Smart Utility Enterprise 2011-2015.

The smart grid concept from an IT standpoint is about building composite applications, according to GTM Research. Smart grid allows for the collection of granular data that reveals more about utility usage patterns across the grid, which offers different ways to use data across the organization. Different applications can benefit, and new types of analytics can be implemented that might have to do with designing new rate plans or forecasting demands.

Chet Geschickter, GTM Research senior analyst and report author says, “When I realized that the aggregate smart grid is a composite of applications, it maps to SOA design patterns. What really is missing from the smart grid initiative is business process modeling and a composite application focus.”

Most current utility environments were found by GTM Research to be installed as single-function applications. In order to increase the potential of smart grid, organizations need to join applications together, share data and have workflows across multiple applications, GTM Research reports. Geschickter says that the market is “confused” because people are used to buying specific applications that do specific things, but there aren’t specific smart grid applications. “We’re at this inflection point in the market … historically, this notion of an enterprise architecture function has not been a strong capability,” he says.

GTM Research notes some convergence happening between operations technology and information technology. This convergence trend requires strategies for integration and cross-fertilization between IT and OT. GTM’s report emphasizes an open but secure system where over time, proprietary protocols are gradually eliminated using SOA, enterprise service buses, gateways and data sharing to bridge the divide.

Geschickter offers some best practices for implementing new enterprise architectures for smart grid. He suggests putting the business vision on top of the smart grid enterprise IT architecture. “First identify the business vision for what a smart grid is for you and what the success metrics are; then you can look at all the relevant systems.”

When starting out with smart grid technology, many lack clarity of requirements, which calls for an adaptive infrastructure. “The industry is in a period of change and is adapting to new technologies and services, so you need a flexible infrastructure,” says Geschickter.

The in-depth report is available for purchase from Green Tech Media Research

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