Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th June 2016

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20 | 10TH - 16TH JUNE 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Operations & Assets Roundtable Utilities and Cloud Technology London, 26 May 2016 Getting to grips with the cloud Utilities are having to adapt and evolve as the fourth industrial revolution rolls out with the advent of smart systems. But where does the cloud fit in? Mathew Beech reports. I n recent years there has been a growth of cloud computing technologies and sys- tems, whereby companies take advantage of online computing power rather relying on big, expensive severs on site. However, a Utility Week roundtable, held in association with Tata Consultancy Ser- vices (TCS) last month, decided that, while utilities are using the cloud, they are doing so with caution. The reluctance of many utility compa- nies to go all out stems from security con- cerns and worries about keeping control of business critical – and nationally important – infrastructure. Value-added and customer- facing services were those deemed most likely to find their way into the cloud, with the development of hybrid cloud systems also expected to make an impact on utilities. The opening remarks from the discussion came from Sutton and East Surrey innova- tion manager Jeremy Heath, who said the great advantage of the cloud was that it could deal with the influx of new data that will arise from the rollout of smart meters. "Processing power – that's why we're interested in the cloud, because we'll be able to make near real-time decisions from the data from our customers," he said. Research by Utility Week and TCS reveals that cost pressures are the main reason why utilities will adopt cloud technology, and Heath was joined in this assertion by Affect Energy head of digital, Andy Came. He said new companies are concerned about find- ing cost-effective solutions to setting up their business and are looking to the cloud for this. Cloud technologies are also aiding co- operation with the supply chain, according to Michael Cook, transformation leader and disruptive strategist at the Thames Water Infrastructure Alliance. This enables the dif- ferent contractors to use a common platform without having to overhaul their existing systems. Despite these economic advantages, there are reservations about the cloud. It is deemed risky for services that affect infra- structure operations (such as systems that can conduct remote shutdowns) to be placed in the cloud in case of a security breach or the service going down. Electricity North West head of IT and tel- ecoms Paul Geddes called these systems a utility's "lifeblood", and Heath added that ensuring they are locked down means there is always a "base level of service" the organi- sations can operate, even if the cloud system fails. Customer service solutions are seen as the most obvious – and safest – way forward for utilities to adopt cloud solutions. The round- table agreed that this is being driven by con- sumer demands to access their data, and the fact the cloud technologies are already a significant part of modern life. One delegate stated that utilities would be "le behind" if they failed to offer cloud-based solutions. While the relentless march of technology is having a dramatic effect on modern life, the impact it is hav- ing on utilities is being tempered by security concerns. Some things will stay out of the cloud for the foresee- able future. However, cloud technology is being adopted and embraced, and it is changing how the utili- ties operate and engage with their customers. Rishabh Arora, director, GTM Solutions,TCS Utilities Business Unit "Utilities have approached the first round of cloud adop- tion in moderation, and this gives them an opportunity to leverage the learning's from other industries for the next round. They could lay the foundation for the API economy by set- ting up an outside-in architecture to enable sustainable innova- tion in a broader ecosystem." Views from the top table: THE ENVIRONMENT APPEARS TO AFFECT THE ADOPTION OF CLOUD TECHNOLOGY Q: Which of the following best describes your current use of cloud technology? Complete Partial None Home Work Water Energy company Energy network 3% 17% 15% 23% 10% 87% 76% 75% 77% 77% 7% 8% 25% Source: Utility Week Cloud Technology April 2016

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