The future of Smart Metering: IRIS software platform

IrisIRIS is the open telemanagement platform for PRIME concentrators and meters, based on Iris Core Services: a set of high-level, distributed and scalable services that allow the system to be tailored to any of the client’s requirements. IRIS is an OPEN platform that can be tailored to meet the needs of any electrical company.

IRIS is the telemanagement platform of Telecontrol STM which has been developed at its Software Factory. As a platform, it enables the management of PRIME devices in a scalable and, above all, flexible environment. The design of IRIS has taken into account the different needs of companies when it comes to integrating the system into their own systems for invoicing, SCADAS, client management, etc. In short, IRIS can be tailored to meet any integration requirement.

From a conception of open architecture, IRIS is a platform which implements a set of services (IRIS CoreServices API) for managing a PRIME infrastructure (concentrators and meters) and on which other applications can be written into the system.

From the outset, IRIS has been designed to meet the different deployment needs under an architecture of distributed, redundant and balanced services. This allows the creation of redundant installations to ensure 100% operability at all times and scalable installations depending on the number of devices to be managed, and complying with response and performance requirements. Another important feature of IRIS is that it has been designed to make its installation and configuration straight-forward and simple.

Iris implements the following telemetry functions:

  • Daily and monthly data collection
  • Comprehensive management of meter data
  • Processing and viewing
  • Graph generation functions for collected data
  • Reports
  • Manage any device connected to the system
  • Remote disconnection / re-connection of meters with double safety mechanisms
  • Automatic collection of meters discovered by the hub (Automatic Discovering of Devices)
  • Instant values
  • Management of power failures
  • Management of supply incidents (sag and swell events)
  • Remote configuration of maximum power
  • Device management
  • Addition of new concentrators to the system either manually or automatically (via an integrated flow with the electrical company)
  • Manage groups of concentrators and meters
  • Send orders to the hub
  • Manual addition of meters
  • Send orders to the meter
  • IRIS also implements a categorization system making it possible to locate concentrators and meters perfectly:  city / area / street
  • Device attributes: open system making it possible to create free attributes for devices (for example, unique identifiers of the electrical company, geolocation attributes, client identifiers, etc)
Light, tailorable graphical interface
IRIS’s graphical interface is built on Iris CoreServices, the very heart of the system:
  • The graphical interface is light, in the sense that it has been designed to enable it to be tailored it to the requirements of a wide range of clients
  • Being implemented on Iris CoreServices, the graphical interface can be used for the construction of the system’s AMI infrastructure (concentrators and meters) while a bespoke application may implement more specific operation and process routines for the client, using Iris CoreServices at all times
  • The Iris graphical interface is a web interface, which simplifies its deployment and scalability for an environment with hundreds of users.

Like all parts of the Iris platform, the completely open design of its graphical interface means that it can be tailored.

Security of the IRIS system
At an infrastructure level, Iris implements security on different levels. Communications between clients and Iris CoreServicesmay be encrypted by SSL, as can access to the web-based Iris graphical interface.

IRIS allows work roles to be defined and assigned a set of permissions which are specific to each role. This way, one single client may implement roles with specific permissions such as the following:

  • System administrators
  • Area administrators
  • Operators
  • Connection / disconnection operators
  • GIS users
  • Field operators

By configuration, Iris also allows its integration with a Windows Server domain, so that users accessing the system need to be logged into this.

Iris CoreServices, the heart of the system
Iris is not just a telemanagement system; it is a telemanagement platform with a distributed and scalable architecture.

The nucleus of the system is formed by Iris CoreServices, a set of high-level services (API web-based services) that protect against the complexity of managing a network of PRIME concentrators and meters, offering high-level services.

On Iris CoreServices, which is where the system’s intelligence lies, high-level applications can be built to:

  • Implement specific applications that require PRIME concentrators and meters, such as for example:
    • Solar farms energy management
    • Application for network of electric car charging points
    • Applications for retail energy distributors (as is the case for example in smart buildings, shopping centres, etc.)
  • Specific applications to enable electrical companies to implement their specific operation routines
  • Integrate consumption data (daily, monthly closures, timetables), events, log of power failures, etc. in the company’s management applications.

One example of a high-level application, is, without having to look any further, the graphical interface of Iris, which is built entirely on Iris CoreServices.

This way, Iris CoreServices can be used to develop any specific or particular need a client may have.

Multi-vendor data suppliers
IRIS is a so-called data-centric platform, in other words, its operation is based on the information that is saved in the data-base.

The Software Factory uses Microsoft technologies in its development which is why IRIS is implemented by default to use a data repository in Sql Server 2008 / 2012. However, as we are aware that clients may have different operational needs and may want to use other manufacturers’ data servers, access to data in IRIS is completely decoupled so that IRIS can work with Oracle, MySql or any other relational data-base.

This makes IRIS compatible with the market’s main data suppliers:


Iris AZURE and cloud computing
The deployment of a distributed telemanagement system such as IRIS, in a scalable and redundant environment to guarantee continued operation despite catastrophic failures in server hardware, involves enormous cost in the acquisition and maintenance of servers which will require updating every few years, apart from associated expenses such as cost of electricity, maintenance personnel (or subcontractors), etc.

For that reason, IRIS has been designed using Microsoft technologies that allow it to work on Microsoft’s cloud-computing Azure platform.

The impact for an electrical company of using its system of telemanagement under a model of software-as-a-service (Saas), is enormous:

  • It drastically reduces ownership costs because hardware does not need to be acquired
  • Associated software licenses are eliminated (Windows Server, Sql Server, etc.) which normally involve thousands of Euros
  • System maintenance costs are also reduced
  • System maintenance is more straight-forward and reliable
  • There will be no more bottle-necks in system scalability: Azure makes it possible to scale the number of server instances dedicated to each part of the system almost at the click of the mouse
  • Cost comes from system use: hours of processing and size of data-bases. This cost, at least, is much lower than having an on-premise telemanagement system with one’s own servers
  • Costs can be brought down further by reducing server instances at times when the system has less load (for example, in the evening or at night when operators are not working)
  • Microsoft guarantees with its specific SLA for Azure the availability of the system with a triple security mechanism against the presence of faults
  • With the characteristics of Windows Azure Access Control (CAL) security is guaranteed in the communications between concentrators and Iris for the exchange of information
  • The bandwidth which Microsoft guarantees for each of the server instances in Azure greatly exceeds the bandwidth of a local installation, thereby ensuring the presence of hundreds of simultaneous users on Iris's graphical interface as well as thousands of concentrators interacting with Iris.

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