OT middleware can help utilities simplify the influx of distributed energy resources (DERs) data and systems while future-proofing their architecture, believes Brad Harkavy, utilities president of Massachusetts-based LiveData. At next week’s Scada Tech Summit in Illinois, he will explain how every day renewable and traditional energy companies add DERs to the electric power grid. This avalanche of new assets and the associated real-time data needed to manage each asset increases the complexity of managing the grid at a geometric rate. Based on research from several smart grid utilities, his presentation is a featured session on September 12, the opening day of the two-day summit at the Double-Tree Oak Brook in Illinois. Harkavy said to answer these demands, more utilities were employing an OT middleware software pattern called an operational technology message bus (OTMB) within their OT and IT hybrid architectures. These architectures provide for bidirectional publication and consumption of OT data between scada systems, assets and devices using various protocols (such as ICCP DNP3, Modbus and OCP), IT and OT analytics applications, time-series databases and SQL databases. “Utilities that have employed an OTMB as a bridge between IT and OT have experienced reduced operational complexity and costs while bringing integrated OT online faster,” Harkavy said. The single architectural layer lets utilities unify and manage distributed assets and their data regardless of their relation to a system or protocol language. In addition, this middleware layer establishes an operational technology structure to simplify growth and data management as well as enable greater business intelligence. Harkavy will share information derived from establishing bidirectional communications and interoperability between independent and unique smart grid data networks and scada systems or scada-less systems at numerous utilities. He will examine scenarios for scada system applications, OT real-time middleware applications, and a hybrid approach that uses both scada and middleware. “Frequently, an OTMB is a better integration bridge to analytics applications than a traditional scada system,” said Harkavy. “The increase of marketplace assets and consequent complexity requires utilities and generation operators to implement OT middleware to successfully manage their systems and data today while having high performance scalability tomorrow.” The summit will focus on the latest economic developments and technical advancements in the scada and ICS markets and technologies. LiveData Utilities specialises in real-time integration and data visualisation technology for the smart grid. The company’s products continuously monitor, synthesise and respond to highly complex, multi-faceted processes in real time, spanning a mix of distributed devices, vendor systems, protocols and databases. Founded in 1991, it has customers in healthcare and electric power and utilities industries.
This article by Steve Rogerson, originally appeared in imc on September 4, 2018.