Windows Azure Platform AppFabric Enables Smart-Grid Energy Savings for Manufacturers
Invensys Operations Management, a leader in providing manufacturing execution systems to the industry, needed a smart-grid communications platform to provide real-time electricity pricing data from utilities that could be integrated with metering and automation systems on the factory floor. One barrier was the reluctance of utilities - and their customers - to allow direct Internet communication links to their IT systems. Invensys solved the problem by incorporating the Service Bus and Access Control features of Windows Azure platform AppFabric. With the combination of smart grids, smart meters, and related systems it promised to open new potential for energy conservation worldwide. Invensys Operations Management is a leading provider of automation and information technology, systems, software, computer-based hardware, and consulting for global manufacturing and infrastructure industries. A key component of the Invensys solution is its use of the Service Bus feature of Windows Azure platform AppFabric to enable an Internet-based neutral container to which utilities can publish pricing data, and to which customers can subscribe. This enables distribution of near-real-time pricing information without either party having to open their IT infrastructures to direct endpoint connectivity - a major relief to those charged with enforcing digital security. AppFabric Access Control enforces user authentication. The solution stores pricing, MES (Manufacturing Execution System) data, and other information using Microsoft SQL Azure, a relational database for Internet-based computing, or cloud computing.