Software as a Service opens up options for quicker response time and easier management of distribution and demand fluctuation of voltage gains and voltage shifts within electrical grid systems.  According to the January 10, 2014 paper “Unified Field Area Network Architecture for Distribution Automation”: “Distribution Automation (DA) solutions integrate distribution grid control and protection solutions…within data communications infrastructures.” In-house, non-standardized software applications are costly to develop, create unreliable serviceability, and compound communication connectivity issues in cases of demand crisis borrowing and integration.

Siemens PLM Software, IBM ECM Solutions, and GE Digital Energy have all developed “Smart Grid” technology packages designed to integrate utility systems and sustain operational functions. GE Digital Energy has pulled ahead, offering SaaS packages that are adaptable and on the market for individual utilities such as the City of Holly Springs that implemented the GE “Software as a Solution” package in November of 2013. Accenture states, in “A New Era for Utilities”, 2012 that “major cross-industry SaaS providers, such as salesforce.com, Workday, NetSuite and Microsoft, are gaining traction in the industry.”

“The Top 20 Software as a Service (SaaS) Vendors” has been listed by clouds360.com and these are the companies to watch as the idea of cloud computing in communications takes hold in the energy sector.  Pre-built applications in a multi-customer environment enabled at the infrastructure platform level offer energy utilities an option with SaaS implementation to manage sales force and business implementation. There is not a hardware or software system to update, buy, and maintain with SaaS, and protection levels can be customized for any architecture, according to salesforce.com.  Sean Jacobsohn, Venture Partner, Emergence Capital Partners is the lead authority and person with the business development plans for SaaS currently leading industries. His visibility and knowledge in SaaS for business development could benefit the energy sector in the future, (Emergence Capital Partners, 2013).

SaaS also presents some opportunities for marketing energy options from utilities to the community.  SaaS is a “cloud computing” model where applications are provided as a service. This means that maintenance and upgrades are taken care of by the provider and that the software can be accessed through the internet. SmartGrid applications function off of “smart” systems reporting regularly through the energy using components of an environment on energy usage. SaaS could be a useful consumer feedback tool if SmartGrid user environments were tied into software allowing consumer access to their data in real time. Activation of “energy saving options” could be SasS controlled by the energy end-user and applied to systems linked to the software.  Utilities that function as providers would have control of the software provided affording security issue measures “in-house” for utilities.

SaaS programs are provided at a lower fee (revenue for utilities) to end-users as the programs only need to be created once without installation hassles.  Internal and external use of SaaS applications is a possibility worth exploring for utilities and the Energy Industry.  Manageability, response times, and interactivity could all maximize and produce higher profits with SaaS implementation.

Resources:

1. clouds 360.com; http://www.clouds360.com/saas.php

2. “A New Era for Utilities (Cloud computing changes the game)”; accenture, 2012

3. “Unified Field Area Network Architecture for Distribution Automation (Internet of Things Field Infrastructure)”; Gauci, Adam; Vazquez, Al; Kellison, Ben; et. al., January 16, 2014.

4.  “Using Business Development To Grow Your SAAS Startup (Answers to 12 Burning Questions)”; Jacobsohn, Sean, Emergence Capital Partners, 2013. (http://www.slideshare.net/EmergenceCapitalPartners/whitepaper-using-bd-to-grow-saa-s-final)

 

 

 

 

 

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