Jerry Thomas, a relatively new member of the Microsoft Power & Utilities Group, spoke recently at the AREVA User Group conference on the topic of "Windows 7 for Utilities" and I thought I'd share of a few of his comments and observations with our blog readers. A note for our readers, on 7 June 2010, Alstom completed its acquisition of Areva T&D to create Alstom Grid. You can read about this here.
Jerry told me that his presentation was challenging as the audience was comprised of hard core energy management engineers much more concerned about real time analysis of energy management data than the latest social networking facilitation that’s available in Windows 7. Yet, AREVA asked for a presentation on the full functionality of Windows 7….and for good reason: they are highly applicable to the future integrated utility in the smart grid/smart energy ecosystem era!
Specifically, Jerry discussed the so-called “flash” features of Windows 7 and the newly released Office 2010, with its capabilities for enabling users to access needed data and applications “anytime and anywhere” through three screens (mobile, PC, and TV). This is accomplished through new functionality such as federated search, relational tagging of digital content, and social computing. Jerry observes that “Many of the system access and sensitive document management issues facing utilities today are a result of well-intentioned employees simply trying to get their work done without being aware of the risk created by flash drives, shared access codes and similar work-arounds.” The social computing and digital content management functionality offered through Windows 7 and Office 2010 offers employees of all utility disciplines less risky solutions to maintain their productivity. This will become a more critical capability as NERC and other international security regulations advance.
But the adaptation of Windows 7 and Office 10 to the utility environment is already advancing on its own as the utility is already seeing a switch to digital content because leading software developers are providing graphical displays that turn complex, raw data into information that can be more quickly analyzed across the enterprise. Windows 7 offers unparalleled benefits to the utility in terms of relational search capabilities which are used now for social media but can be applied to corporate document management.
Jerry thinks it’s very easy for skeptical developers to dismiss these technologies as "gee whiz" or "flash," but we are very confident that these new technologies will integrate very well with the products of our alliance partners to make products more robust and useful in the utility context.
These changes are coming more quickly than you'd realize and I hope Jerry will continue his evangelization to the utility developer community as the Smart Grid and Smart Energy Ecosystem hit stride, helped in part by these new functionalities. – Jon C. Arnold