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Author's profile photo Kevin Liu

First hand experience from COIL – Energy and Carbon Management with OSIsoft and SAP

You can’t control what you can’t see. This is especially true when we are talking about energy consumption and its carbon impact. The electricity we use every day is not visible to our eyes, but its impact shows up in our utility bills (which we can see quite clearly!) and further contributes to the carbon footprint we have on the environment. How then, can we gain insight to our energy consumption, analyze trends, and identify areas for improvement?


This was a key topic of interest when I first met Carol Jackson from OSIsoft, and my SAP colleagues Peter Huyen and Raj Valame. Customers ask the same questions, and many of them turn to SAP and OSIsoft for answers.  We all know that our solutions work and they may provide even more value to our joint customers when combined. But what’s the best way to “combine” them? What does it take to provide an integrated landscape to showcase the “combined” value? We found that even though many of our customers are already using solutions from both companies, it’s oftentimes difficult to find a proof point where we can confidently show to our customers how the joint solution should work.


After a few rounds of exploration, our team worked to build a showcase at COIL to provide a proof point that could demonstrate energy management joint capability for our customers.


The synergy between SAP and OSIsoft


OSIsoft’s PI system is well-established in the market as a leader for real time energy data collection and analysis. It can effectively accept and manage data from multiple sources, be it a power meter, a smart PDU, a solar panel, or any device or application with a smart interface for reading power data; and OSIsoft also provide tools to analyze and present the data.


However collecting energy usage data is just the first step. Without putting this data into the right context, its value can become constrained. To fully leverage newly gained insights, we need to be able to aggregate the data in a configurable time frame, analyze it within an enterprise context, and then be capable of generating reports and visualizations to help us understand the trends of our energy consumption, conduct cost analysis and carbon impact analysis so we can achieve cost avoidance and reduce our carbon footprint. These areas are where SAP solutions play great roles:


  • SAP MII (Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence), provides a direct connection between plant information systems and business systems. It ensures that all data that affects manufacturing is visible – including information about orders, materials, equipment status, costs, and product quality. When integrated with OSIsoft, MII assists to move real-time energy consumption data from PI system up into SAP and provide a platform for analytics combining real-time data with SAP transactional information.


  • SAP CI (Carbon Impact) helps measure, mitigate, and monetize greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts across an enterprise’s internal operations and supply chain. When MII feed the aggregated energy consumption data into CI, CI can translate it into how much CO2 equivalent is produced by such consumption.


  • SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius provide powerful visualization and SAP Enterprise Portal glues everything together


Putting everything together, we came up with the integration architecture as shown in the following diagram:

integration architecture

The journey – it takes a great co-innovation team to build the integration


When we first met to talk about the proof point, it was in February 2010.


We decided the COIL Palo Alto data center is the logic choice to put the solution into life.


Having an architecture diagram is one thing, building a working solution out of it is another thing. It became an interesting journey for us all as we strove to build the landscape up at COIL – it took time to take care of the legal agreements, to get the right experts to work on the solution, and to get necessary equipment at COIL to display the dashboard. 


This is a project takes full advantage of successful knowledge brokering, tacit knowledge exchange and contribution of key complementary assets necessary to the project. Additionally, COIL is designed to facilitate co-innovation project that can be pursued from many locations worldwide. My colleague at COIL David Cruickshank teamed with Carol and lawyers from both companies to make sure that all IP provisions and legal terms were properly defined and sufficiently reflected the requirements of a co-innovation initiative.  The COIL data center team (Peter Aeschlimann, Siva Gopal Modadugula, and Irakli Natsvlishvili) played a key role in setting up the initial landscape. Equally contributing to the success of the project, Peter Huyen and Raj Valame worked very hard to keep the project momentum high and tracking to the larger sustainability and green IT initiatives at SAP. Along the road, we were fortunate enough to have Michael Appleby, David Branley, and Jeff West to join us to help with the Xcelsius, CI, and Portal development from SAP side, and Ken Morikawa, Michelle Kuiee, Danilo Ribeiro, Francois J. Gagnon, from OSIsoft side to help build the PI system.  Larry Morgan and the Palo Alto facility management team are also tremendously helpful in giving us access to the solar panel and building 1 energy consumption data sources.


The live dashboard at COIL Palo Alto

Fast forward to October


Today the COIL data center Energy Management for Sustainability Reporting dashboard has now gone live at Palo Alto. If you are based in Palo Alto, check it out from building 1 first floor adjacent to the EBC staircase. The dashboard consists of two LCDs with rotating reports.

To give you a taste of what you can get from these dashboards, here is a snapshot of the dashboard which provides insight into how much cost avoidance the data center is achieving from using solar power in the last 24 hours.

cost avoidance with solar power


Further details will be provided in a whitepaper which we will release in a few more days.


Stay Tuned.

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      Author's profile photo Kevin Liu
      Kevin Liu
      Blog Post Author
      Author's profile photo Kevin Liu
      Kevin Liu
      Blog Post Author
      OSIsoft and COIL are hosting an Expert Session in the Community Clubhouse, Lounge#4 on Thursday 10/21, 1:30PM - 2:00PM.

      my colleagues Carol Jackson and David Cruickshank will be there to greet you.