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Data presenting problems to utility providers

By Donna Donnawitz
September 26, 2013

Imagine working in an industry that deals with large quantities of data all the time. Now imagine having to deal with a much larger volume of data that is delivered in conjunction with a variety of new technologies that increase the pace at which data is delivered. This is what utility companies are dealing with, and it is an issue they are struggling to respond to. A recent Forbes report explained that many utility providers are struggling to respond to the big data challenges created by smart grid architectures.

According to the news source, experts estimate that utility providers in the United States were already dealing with a cumulative 109 petabytes of data as of 2009. Thissubstantial amount of information is being compounded by big data, creating major operational challenges.

Considering smart grid data problems
Speaking at theGreat Lakes Symposium on Smart Grid and the New Energy Economy,Paul Myrda of the Electric Power Research Institute, explained that utility providers are still asking themselves basic questions about what they are going to do with all of the data generated by the smart grid, the report explained.

"The amount of data [the smart grid] is generating is phenomenal," said Myrda, according to Forbes. "It's generating terabytes of data.There's a lot of data there; what do you do with it? How do you take advantage of it? How do you manage it? At what point does it become not useful?"

Myrda added that part of the problem facing utility providers is that they do not have a way to manage and use the data they are collecting effectively, the news source explained. Figuring out when to take data offline, how to archive it and how to track the relevancy of information is becoming a major issue for companies. This is leaving utility providers struggling to derive value from all of the information they are collecting.

Getting data where it needs to go
Utility providers also face major challenges getting information between various parts of the grid. Having a network that can handle big data volumes is integral to developing an effective smart grid strategy. Within this setup, utility providers often must invest in serial to Ethernet terminal servers to ensure they can overcome interoperability problems within the network. Effective terminal server deployment can position companies to maximize the value of information in their network.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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