A quiet revolution is happening in the Meter Data Management space.
A proven approach
SAP pioneered the handling of meter data with the Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) Lighthouse Council that proved the interoperability of SAP CRM & Billing with market leading Meter Data Management providers. Many utilities around the world have realised the business value of this Meter Data Unification and Synchronisation (MDUS) such as BC Hydro. This approach featuring a 3 tier architecture connecting SAP to an MDM to a Head End system, will continue to be the preferred approach for many utilities going forward.
However something new happened in December 2014, SAP was included in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Meter Data Management Products.
Since SAP hatched the concept of MDUS with MDM providers back in 2008, Utilities have increasingly adopted advanced metering and industry models have continued to evolve with changing roles for metering participants. SAP received important feedback from its customers that:
- The complexity and cost of a 3 tier architecture can be too high;
- Increased capabilities of Head End systems and SAP Energy Data Management overlap MDM solutions;
- Some business processes need all the meter data in SAP anyway;
- Some MDM solutions are not easily deployed in their cloud of choice.
A new simplified option
In response to customer demand, SAP is now helping utilities deliver a simpler 2-teir MDUS solution connecting SAP directly to a Head End system. This still follows an MDUS approach, leveraging the same enterprise services. However the big change is that SAP EDM becomes the source of truth for the meter data.
SAP has relaxed the approach to MDUS certification to make it easier for Head End system providers to provide SAP endorsed solutions. It also reflects the maturity of SAP’s MDUS/AMI foundation solution set that has been through several releases over nearly 10 years.
Gartner has rated SAP as a niche provider. This is based on some key “cautions” that may well change in the next evaluation. This is because a key caution is that “it is not really an option for utilities that are not SAP ERP and CIS clients” has been disproved in a recent presentation by AGL at the SAP International Utilities Conference in Berlin.
AGL runs simple
AGL is poised to launch it’s new standalone digital metering business “Active Stream” and presented their story at the International Utilities Conference in Berlin. They have built a completely new IT landscape in 7 months to support the business. It features a simplified 2 tier MDUS architecture with SAP Energy Data Management interfaced directly to a Storm Head End system all in the Azure cloud. While it does include IS-U capabilities for meter operations and administration they are only using the functionality that is required for the new business, and this is a completely separate system to the AGL retail CRM & Billing platform. AGL have proved that you can rapidly set up a simplified SAP centric MDM solution to support a standalone metering operation. Stephanie Bashir, Manager Metering Policy & Development at AGL indicated that the ambition is to provide the best customer experience at the lowest cost and ultimately provide metering services for all of AGL’s 3.8 million retail customers. So scalability is not a concern. SAP has done comprehensive performance benchmarking on SAP Energy Data Management to prove the scalability of the solution processing high volumes of AMI data for 10+ million smart meters.
UPDATE: Metering International has published an excellent article “Australia’s new energy market makes way for AGL’s Active Stream” by Jason Clark the GM of Active Stream. Jason describes the business model, unique market offering, customer benefits and the important way that “SAP and AGL join hands” to deliver the simplified 2 tier architecture. The solution is simple and effective with Active Stream is the first metering provider to gain accreditation by the market operator at the first attempt.
The role of HANA
What role can HANA play in meter data management?
There are 4 ways HANA can add value to Meter Data Management
1) You can run SAP HANA today as a Energy Analytics platform to support innovative solutions from customer engagement to energy procurement. HANA can replicate meter data from your MDM partner solution or from SAP Energy Data Management;
2) If you run SAP IS-U and Energy Data Management on a HANA operational database you could benefit from:
- Reporting directly on live data without a data warehouse using HANA Live standard content or custom built HANA Virtual Data Models
- SAP’s planned* functional enhancements such as Accelerated Energy Settlement processes;
- New potential* solutions such as a Fiori style Launchpad / cockpit
3) SAP is planning* cloud based solutions for Energy Analytics and subsequently Energy Data Management / Meter Data Management based on the SAP Internet of Things HANA cloud platform.
4) There is increasing demand from Utilities for existing Meter Data Management solution providers to offer their software running on SAP HANA supporting a 3 tier MDUS approach. At the International Utilities Conference in Berlin there many conversations on the sidelines between MDM partners and Utilities looking to standardise, simplify and scale their meter operations with HANA. This will be an exciting space to watch!
* Planned and potential solutions were presented at the International Utilities Conference in Berlin. Any future roadmap functionality is always subject to change.
Meter Data Management your way
SAP is clear that it supports it’s MDM partners and the Utilities that require a 3 tier MDUS approach. The simplified 2 tier architecture will not be for everyone. However the 2 tier approach is a customer led revolution and as long as Utilities call upon SAP to drive complexity and cost from their operations SAP will help Utilities run Simple.