Energy IoT Platforms Cut Complexity, Speed Up Deployments
How Vendors Are Responding to Platform Demand
The awareness that customers’ needs may define what a platform is has led many vendors in this market to retain a flexible approach that eschews cookie-cutter offerings in favor of more customized platform products.
Schneider’s Shishani describes three general layers that should be present to meet a customer’s requirements: smart hardware, interconnection with a supervisory layer (and edge control) and analytics that can plow through voluminous data to produce actionable information.
“I think when you have those three layers,” said Shishani, “you’re situated for a well-oiled machine from a standpoint of reliability, safety, availability, etc.”
IBM’s Saunders notes that exploiting a number of advanced technologies has enabled the company to expand its energy IoT offerings to better meet customers’ needs.
“We’re part of the Watson IoT platform,” said Saunders. “That exposes us to a great deal of research, cognitive services, machine learning — all of which gets exposed and embedded into our enterprise asset management and asset performance management solutions. So it’s really broadened the set of values for customers.”
Such developments that leverage AI, virtual and augmented reality and other state-of-the-art technologies may soon become essential elements of energy IoT platforms. The list of users’ concerns in the IDC report is long and complex, requiring new and creative approaches to such table stakes items as device management, data management and analytics, security and application development including DevOps disciplines, among other current and emerging requirements.
Extending the Platform
Regardless of the type of energy IoT platform under consideration, a key requirement will always be the platform’s integration capabilities. There are actually several points of integration that must be addressed, including internal integrations that enable a variety of management and accounting systems to accept and process IoT data.
There’s also a need for an IoT-based energy management system to act as a true platform in that it will allow internally developed and third-party applications to integrate as seamlessly as possible.
“If you’re a provider … the ability to integrate with any third-party software or any third-party hardware is key, so the openness of the platform is going to be super-critical,” said Shishani. “There needs to be convergence and that convergence is built on the fact that you’re able to integrate as a provider or able to be open within your platform for APIs.”
IBM also subscribes to an open-door policy in regards to extending their energy IoT platform. “We definitely are a platform in the sense that we are open,” said Saunders. “And even our predictive models of asset health and risk can be extended and built upon by the customer. That gives them competitive differentiation but also allows them to adapt more to the specific needs of the business.”
Open APIs and other forms of application integration are particularly important for analyzing the IoT-collected data, as many of the applications that can handle the data crunching effectively are external, such as SAP HANA and Oracle IoT SaaS applications.