Last year, cloud-based software services provider, Energyworx became a Google Cloud Platform partner and started leveraging Google’s cloud to scale the platform to higher levels in order to deliver real-time insights to individual businesses and consumers.
Engerati spoke to Edwin Poot, Founder & CEO at Energyworx, about the strategic partnership with Google.
Google Cloud Platform benefits
Energyworx, which started off in 2006 by building software products, responded to their customers’ request to host the software solutions. Shortly, after this move, the company entered into the cloud computing business and quickly discovered that the web service prices on offer exceeded that which Energyworx wanted to charge their customers.
“We wanted to use the pay-per-use model and that is when we got in touch with Google. They asked us to change our software so that it would be compatible with the Google cloud platform service which is very different from what most companies are doing in this market currently,” explains Poot
Energyworx has opted for the Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud computing model as the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), a lower level cloud computing solution, requires a large number of developers and support personnel to maintain the infrastructure and servers.
“As a company, we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to focus mainly on the development of our software. Google Cloud Platform allows us to do that as they offer developers such as us the tools and services we need. If there is a new release, we don’t have to go to a server, log in, install the software ourselves and then migrate everything and then run it. With Google Cloud Platform, you make a deployment artifact of your software and then it is automatically rolled out across servers by Google. We don’t have to worry about configuring firewalls, monitoring storage, maintain application services or worry about back-ups for instance. This allows us to focus on our core business. This is what makes us unique in the market,” explains Poot.
Poot says that Google views Energyworx as a reference case for the Google Cloud Platform. “They want to show the market what companies like our’s can do with the SAAS model.” By becoming a strategic partner with Google, Energyworx can optimise its operations further and grow globally at a faster rate.
What makes the Google Cloud platform so attractive is that it has been built by Google itself, explains Poot. Other platform providers like Amazon, provision serverswith commonly used operating systems and application services on top of different types of virtualized hardware. Google has developed its own hardware, infrastructure applications and services and are in control of the full stack.
“The quality of their software is in their genes. The fact that they are in control of the stack is attractive for us because every time we talk to Google, we are able to talk to their engineers across the globe. Up until now we have been using almost 80to 90% of the cloud services available which means that every time we use a service in their stack, it helps us to improve our software. We cut down on the time we need for development and fixing various components that they make available.”
While Energyworx provides cloud agnostic software which can run on any cloud platform, Poot says they prefer to use Google since they offer superior technology and offer a better pricing level. Google’s cloud platform also supports autoscaling which means that if companies need more capacity (processing power as well as storage), the solution will automatically scale up without the burden of monitoring system services, maintaining hardware and infrastructure ourselves. This only limit is a set budget per day. This solution gives companies unlimited scalability and greater flexibility, especially relevant for utilities whose needs differ daily and increase exponentially. Besides automatically scaling up, the function also scales down when it is no longer needed.
Energyworx’s platform is based on 3 basic concepts:
In 2020 European smart meters are estimated to produce a total of 50-100 petabytes of meter read data per year. To cope with this growth, Energyworx provides a data collection and crunching platform which can handle large volumes of meter read data at top speeds.
Energyworx’s platform is based on three basic concepts:
Gathering –The platform is utility agnostic and anyone within the energy and utility industry can use the engine and retrieve smart actionable insights. The engine uses open source technology,open standards and state of the art but proven architectural design patterns. Energyworx can configure any type of gathering adapter to allow feed in of data from any source. Varying from electricity, gas, water data and other metering equipment to pressure, temperature and other sources such as behavioural data. Their engine supports many country-specific utility standards. The gathering of data is free of costs.
Crunching - By crossing various temporal data sources and correlating behavioural information, Energyworx aggregates and consolidates revolutionary new insights and displays them in real time thanks to powerful design and algorithms. The system is able to calculate hundreds of billions of context-enriched data points in minutes. Energyworx tags and groups the data, annotates events; generating steering signals for efficient grid operations; helping utilities gain detailed actionable insight into consumption behaviour and enables them to pinpoint exceptions, discover trends and cycles. The system will pick up incorrect data from meters which for instance help deliver accurate utility bills, saving utilities a great deal of money. Faulty and missing data is corrected by the platform using various sophisticated estimation methods. The incredibly fast processing speeds allow calculated and derived data to be available instantly which is especially useful for energy traders who need accurate data. Crunching data requires storage*. The more data you crunch, the more storage and processing capacity you need, the more you have to pay. However, the more data you crunch, the less you pay per data source.
Using - Third parties can connect to the engine through Energyworx’s open standardised application programming interface (API) which can be used to integrate with different types of systems and applications. The gathered data and crunched information can be used for different purposes like grid optimization and reliability, energy management and device control (home automation), energy theft detection, meter data management, energy efficiency, consumer engagement and social sharing of behaviour.
The platform is offered on top of several popular cloud platforms, in a shared multi-tenant environment or private cloud. The system has proven to be highly efficient. Poot points to a case where a company can process data from numerous smart meters in an instant using Energyworx’s solution. That previously took several hours to days.
Conventional data architectures no longer viable
Poot explains that most traditional systems were built up by energy and utility companies in a time when meter data was collected and processed once or twice a year by a billing department. But, recently other departments have started to request access to the same data and with a higher density for purposes of forecasting, planning, energy delivery, and maintenance to help keep the organization reliable, profitable, and competitive.Conventional architectures can no longer keep up with the increasing amount of data flowing into the system today.
Established industry software vendors have invested huge amounts of money into their currently outdated architecture foundation (built years ago) and building their software on top of it since then. “As a result, it will not be easy next to impossible to change their outdated architecture fundament to adapt to the increase and complexity of data.”
Poot says, “Our philosophy is that our platform should be very easy to use and integrate with, be extremely fast and comply with strict privacy regulations. We believe the world is shifting towards energy democracy driven by people and communities. Everyone should have maximum insights into their own energy production and consumption.”
Google and Energyworx are joining forces as Premium Partners at the upcoming European Utility Week and will be giving a live demonstration of their joint platform capability.