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Exelon, TransAlta choose Microsoft to transform in the cloud

By The Microsoft Power & Utilities team on September 27, 2016

Filed under Power & Utilities

PU blog TransAlta

We’ve been talking about how cloud infrastructure brings significant opportunities to utilities, including increased flexibility, enhanced security and privacy, faster computing, and advanced analytics and business insight, just to name a few. These advancements can be especially beneficial to Utilities looking to meet ever-changing industry regulations and streamline operations.

With the emergence of more sustainable energy technologies and IoT solutions, utilities see the cloud as part of an organization-wide transformation, operating on a common data model that spans the utility, its customers, and reporting to regulatory agencies and government. Today, we see utilities leading with the cloud as they integrate a variety of technologies and workloads; centralize asset monitoring; and improve real-time business insights, communications and collaboration across the organization—all in a safe and secure environment.

Powering up data security and privacy

Take Exelon, for example. This Fortune 100 company and leading U.S. energy provider is showing how it is leading the industry with its journey to the cloud. The company just announced that it will be using Microsoft Office 365 to drive its digital workplace transformation to enhance productivity and collaboration, while saving time, resources and infrastructure costs. Exelon chose Customer Lockbox for Office 365 for its entire workforce of 45,000. Adding Customer Lockbox gives Exelon unprecedented control over its data at all times in Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. This is a critical factor for highly regulated environments where companies need to be able to understand and govern who accesses content during service operations, while still allowing staff to collaborate and work productively anywhere on any device. I encourage you to read more on Ron Markezich’s blog.

Turning data into insight

Another challenge that Utilities are facing is that smart meters and new online tools are creating a lot more data that must be stored, compiled and correlated. Storing all of the data will not add value unless it can be turned into insight. Forward-looking utilities are increasingly focused on big data and advanced analytics, using those capabilities to monitor asset health and enable predictive maintenance, streamline operations and lower operating costs.

One great example of this is the work that Canadian power generator TransAlta is doing to utilize the cloud in order to get deeper insights from the data it collects from its existing SCADA systems. As the number of devices managed by the company has increased over the years, the more data was being collected and the demand for real-time data analytics was significantly increasing. TransAlta needed to be able to add capabilities incrementally and quickly, without adding fixed infrastructure. TransAlta’s choice? Microsoft Azure. The company built a hybrid solution that utilizes its existing infrastructure and the data already being produced, but with a new dimension—rich analysis. The data collected helps TransAlta be more efficient around many critical processes, including equipment maintenance, tracking and reporting on production output to ensure compliance, and billing. The company also saved more than $200,000 in upgrade and licensing costs of its existing solution by migrating to Azure, while gaining features such as security, performance, and redundancy—all critical for utilities. Read TransAlta’s success story here.

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