Why the cloud is good for cities (as long as they insist on this capability)

Thu, 2016-10-20 12:05 -- SCC Staff

The announcement below from Council Lead Partner Itron is an example of several important trends cities should be tracking:

1. Mission-critical services in the cloud. It's often less expensive to move to the cloud while also being more secure (because you inherit the robust security provided by the cloud vendor). Whether or not they are less expensive, cloud services are always more flexible and more scalable.

2. Outcomes-based services. Utilities and cities pay for certain results and/or certain levels of service rather than for the "raw materials" needed to create those outcomes.

3. Hybrid cloud. The ability to run some of your services in the public cloud and others on your premises as a "private cloud." That way you can meet regulatory requirements to keep certain data on-site while still gaining the benefits of the cloud.

The latter capability — hybrid cloud — is essential for cities, utilities and other highly regulated entities. — Jesse Berst

Itron, Inc., a world-leading technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water, is consolidating its software solutions around the globe into a single platform built on Microsoft Azure, the largest enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure available today. Azure will be the backbone for Itron Total Outcomes, which provides business outcomes that address utility and smart city challenges in an Outcomes as a Service model to lower costs and improve performance.

Itron plans to enable a new range of services around its products, including solar integration, leak detection and analytics. Utilities and cities will benefit from different types of data coming together into one place, generating new intelligence and insights.

For example, solar-related services will bring together accurate, real-time data related to consumption, usage patterns, panel temperature and power generated and combine it with weather and geolocation data to drive further insights into energy efficiency and asset health. For gas utilities, detecting leaks through cloud-based applications and services that monitor pressure, temperature and pipeline stress will enhance safety and protect revenue. For water, providing early warnings of potential water leakage using real-time usage readings from households can prevent high-risk situations that lead to large reparation expenses or liability payouts.

“Itron is standardizing on Microsoft Azure to provide higher quality and more seamless services to our customers. It allows us to offer the functionality of many software offerings in a unified ‘as a service’ environment,” said Greg Richards, vice president of DevOps at Itron. “Offering our software applications via Microsoft Azure will enable Itron to be more agile in innovation and development for our customers.”

 “Azure is uniquely positioned to empower utilities and cities to accelerate their digital transformation, with the power of our global-scale, hybrid and trusted cloud. Through Azure, Itron can enable a new range of IoT services that deliver valuable insights and drive faster decision making,” said Julia White, corporate vice president, Cloud Platform, at Microsoft.

Itron Total Outcomes, including Outcomes as a Service and Software as a Service (SaaS), will be powered by Azure and surrounded by value-adding services, including Cortana Intelligence Suite and Azure IoT Suite capabilities, that will allow Itron’s customers to take advantage of a world-class platform that benefits from billions of dollars in ongoing investment.