How DCIM helps utility companies

How DCIM helps utility companies

The electric grid is going to be a colossal source of data.

The term "downtime" traditionally had a very different meaning to utility companies and data centers. For utility companies, downtime usually refers to a power outage. In the data center, downtime can occur through any number of issues that cause critical equipment to fail, such as overheating equipment, a power disruption or a distributed denial-of-service attack. Recently, however, there's been increased crossover between these two worlds. This is because utility companies have realized that data helps them run their businesses more efficiently.

When it comes to offering electricity to millions of customers, there's a lot of data involved. To use this data, they need data centers, and to run data centers most effectively, they need data center infrastructure management (DCIM).

Smart grid and smart metering

Anything that can in some way be quantified can technically be represented as data. In the world of utilities such as gas, water and electricity, this might entail the amount of product delivered to customers, maps of the infrastructure that is being used to transport the resource, the number of customers and where they live, and billing and metering. All of these metrics are aggregated as data that is stored in data center servers, and all of them are vital to operations at a utility company.

But that's only the tip of the iceberg. According to Business Insider contributor John Greenough, the estimated quantity of Internet-connected energy meters in use around the world was expected to exceed 450 million in 2015, and is forecast to be double that amount by 2020. Greenough noted that installation comes with a cumulative expense of around $100 billion, but with a return of $160 billion.

It's not just the electric companies increasingly leveraging this technology. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) has already been explored for water delivery. Internet-connected sensors will be able to accurately quantify water consumption. They can possibly even be used to identify leaks in real time, which is especially useful in regions with water shortages such as Southern California. 

With the help of this technology, utilities can realize an opportunity to deliver services more reliably, and more sustainably. It also means that massive amounts of real-time data will be generated.

Utilities are starting to offer smarter, data-driven services to customers.Utilities are starting to offer smarter, data-driven services to customers.

A lot at stake: DCIM is needed to avoid service disruptions

As this happens, these utilities will become more reliant on data storage facilities. This puts a lot of pressure on data center managers. Downtime as a result of an issue in the data center eats into the financial returns spent on building the infrastructure. Without access to real-time data being generated by meters and sensors, it's difficult to actually maximize resource delivery efficiency.

Worse yet, it might also risk disrupting services such as electricity, gas and water. This highlights just how important data centers are becoming in everyday life. With so much at stake, not using a reliable DCIM solution is asking for trouble. 

"Not using a reliable DCIM solution is asking for trouble."

Interestingly, DCIM maintains the data center environment much in the same way that smart utility infrastructure does: through the aggregation of many thousands of data sets. Sensors, electricity meters and temperature and humidity monitors installed through the facility are constantly collecting data. This information is then funneled into DCIM, sorted and digested on a computer screen as easy-to-understand visualizations.

Any information the data center management might need to make sure that everything in the facility is running smoothly is at their fingertips. With so much omniscience, it's much harder to be blindsided by an issue that might lead to downtime.

There's no question about it: Utility infrastructure is getting smarter all the time. Make sure your data center infrastructure is keeping with the help of Geist DCIM