IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016 - 60

Distance to Integrate
Custom
Interface and
Adapter

Custom Point-to-Point

Custom
Interface and
Adapter

Custom
Interface and
Adapter

Mapping Through Integration Layer

Custom
Interface and
Adapter

Integration
Layer

System A
Standard Productized
Interface

Standard Productized
Interface

Mapping Through
Integration Layer

Standard
Interface

Standard
Interface
Plug and Play

System B
With
Custom
Adapter

With
Custom
Adapter

figure 1. Reducing the distance to integrate. Using a semantic standard moves integration efforts closer to "plug-and-play."
(Adapted from the Microsoft Smart Energy Reference Architecture 2013 update to "The Distance to Integrate"; originally
appeared in the Gridwise Architecture Council Interoperability Framework Report).

this complex interconnectivity requires information
transfers among systems that were designed to operate independently. the challenge is to ensure that the hundreds of
transfers involved in these complex processes are all compatible with one another to achieve the desired end result. this
is complicated in that each time a new system is acquired
without using standards, the system will generate data in a
form unique to that system. this data will often need to be
transformed either before or after it is sent to other systems
for consumption. when this data has different and possibly
conflicting properties as described by its metadata, complexity is introduced into the data transfer and into the "care and
feeding" of the systems at both ends of the integration.
for instance, consider the different possible data definitions
of "customer" that may be used by multiple transacting systems: the customer information system might have it defined
as a string datatype with a length of 12, the meter asset-management system might have it defined as a long integer datatype,
and the customer relationship management system might have it
defined as an alphanumeric datatype with a length of 14. these
are random examples, but they are exactly the types of differences that may exist between systems sharing the same semantic of "customer" that then have to be resolved when integration
occurs. figure 1 illustrates this complexity in greater detail.
the solution to this complexity needs to start with an awareness at the corporate level that data-governance policies are needed
to ensure data compatibility and consistency across all computer
systems. further, projects undertaken to procure distribution systems should also be compliant with the data-governance policy,
60

ieee power & energy magazine

starting with the requirements phase. it is time for electric utilities to commit to taking the time to identify all the key computer
system interactions within a utility and redefine or harmonize the
supporting business processes. while the governance review and
the process of data transformation represent a significant investment, they pay significant dividends in system agility as opposed
to the brittle interfaces that typically reflect organizations lacking
mature data-governance policies.
a key foundational element to satisfy these requirements
and to minimize the impact of adding or replacing major systems is a common language for all data systems: i.e., a common
semantic model. various evolving power system standards provide system semantics for different aspects of the power system.
international electrotechnical Commission (ieC) 61970, ieC
61968, and ieC 62325 comprise the ieC Common information model (Cim), and they provide the semantics for the terms
used to describe a power system. the Cim considers all types
of information exchanges for power system management, operations, and planning and reduces the difficulty of interoperation
between the distinct proprietary applications used to manage
power systems. some related standards are ieC 61850 for
supervisory control and data acquisition (sCaDa) and ieee
C37.118 for phasor measurement unit.
while the Cim is an international standard and has
been incorporated in many of the largest utilities all over
the world as a basis for scalable, maintainable, model-driven
solutions for system integration, it is still maturing, and not
all utilities have embraced its benefits. the Cim is updated
continually as new use cases are identified. for example,
january/february 2016



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016 - 1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016 - Cover3
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016 - Cover4
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