Aclara has introduced Adaptive Consumer Engagement (Aclara ACE) platform for providing high level of security and scalability to the infrastructures. The solution will make use of Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Aclara ACE feels the initiative will benefit utility customers in a variety of ways. As per Aclara, this will raise awareness about energy costs and relate them directly to personal behaviors. It will provide adaptable solutions for energy and water efficiency. The platform will simplify participation in utility cost-and-energy savings programs and increase the customer satisfaction scores.

Microsoft Azure will help Aclara push data-rich, specific insights to the customers in order to make them understand their monthly bills and usage patterns in a simpler manner. For gathering information, customers need not dig deep rather the consumer engagement platform will employ the Azure services to bring the relevant data on their mobile devices and computers. Also, the utilities have transformed from Advanced Meter Reading (AMR) technologies to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Therefore, there arises a need to increase the volume and types of data to be processed. Quoting an example, one can say that an AMI system might have a rich dataset like a five-minute interval data in the form of voltage, frequency, energy consumption, minimums and maximums. Aclara ACE helps tackle the issue of the whopping increase in scale and complexity levels of the data. The feature leveraging Platform as a Service (PaaS) from Azure will help develop, deploy and bring out new functionalities as per customers’ utilities.

When it comes to issues like the safeguarding and protecting the end-customer data, ACE and Azure together introduced robust set of security controls. This is achieved by using SSL to secure the network traffic to the ACE portal. To prevent the website from the attacks of malicious hosts, real-time monitoring of traffic is carried out. The method of virus scanning and configuration management of the infrastructure helps tackle the malware. By applying the principle of least privileges, access rights can be minimized. Technologies such as Azure Queues and Event Hub are capable of handling uneven patterns of AMI data that is sent to ACE from AMI networks.

For addressing the needs of the customers, ACE uses big data technologies along with PaaS services. Within PaaS, ACE deploys services such as Cloud services and Service Fabric for tracking the users on the website. These undergo expansion and contraction elastically in order to absorb all the transferred AMI data. Apache Cassandra is said to be the core of the data management platform and is an industry standard distributed database. This database is crucial in processing billions of AMI records in an efficient manner.

By joining with hands with Microsoft and leveraging the Azure platform, the company has introduced a scalable and secure consumer engagement solution.

Srijan Purang

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