SAP, Other IT Vendors Embrace Energy Efficiencies

As energy utilities look to shave costs in as many areas as possible, a new software development agreement between SAP and Landis+Gyr could boost access to cost-saving energy data. At the same time, other companies are developing tech that minimizes energy costs in the data center.

Utility companies worldwide have found themselves in a bit of a squeeze, as factors ranging from the need for electrical-grid modernization to the fluctuating cost of fuel have weighed down on their bottom lines.

These utilities could soon find a little relief via a new software development cooperation agreement between SAP and Landis+Gyr.

According to the two companies' Feb. 2 announcement, Landis+Gyr's advanced metering infrastructure will be integrated into the SAP for Utilities solution portfolio, which in turn could allow utilities to operate with increased system transparency and availability of energy data.

SAP has operated for three decades in the utilities market, using its business-software platforms to drive efficiencies and incorporate new technology into energy production. In the past year, the company has made similar moves to incorporate advanced metering technology with their enterprise applications.

Landis+Gyr provides energy-management solutions to 30 countries, with particular focus on the electricity-metering industry and the development of a smart grid.

The new system produced under the agreement, known as MDUS (Meter Data Unification and Synchronization), will incorporate Landis+Gyr systems, in particular the company's Advanced Metering Management (AMM) along with SAP's business software for utilities, which includes their billing- and customer-relation management solutions. MDUS is highly scalable, and allows bi-directional flow of information and control.

"The increased focus on energy efficiency and the introduction of smart meters mark a paradigm shift for utilities, requiring interoperability of technical metering systems and commercial solutions," Stefan Engelhardt, head of Utilities Industry Business Unit, SAP AG, said in a statement. "The integration of Landis+Gyr's MDUS with SAP for Utilities, including SAP AMI Integration for Utilities, will enable our joint customers to bridge this gap effectively and increase their return on investment significantly."

The quest for energy efficiency has also taken on a new dimension on the client side, with the Jan. 28 announcement by Sentilla that the company has developed a system, known as the Sentilla Energy Manager, that monitors electricity consumption in the data center.

At the Energy Manager's core is a computer the size of a postage stamp, which analyzes data center equipment's energy consumption and then sends that information wirelessly to a human monitor, who in turn can compare devices' consumption profiles, see how power levels change with various loads, and other functions.

The technology comes at a moment when a number of companies are wrestling with how to best cut back on the rising energy costs of running a data center.

"A problem of this scope will be addressed by other players in market from the position of their strength," Bob Davis, CEO of Sentilla, said in an interview. "Cisco will do it from the perspective of their switches, for example. But we're the only ones attacking the problem from the power cord perspective."