Use of Cloud Computing Technology for Energy Efficiency Monitoring in Bus. and Ind. Environment

author: Gregor Černe, INEA d.o.o.
published: Dec. 1, 2014,   recorded: September 2014,   views: 2009


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The article describes a cloud computing service for the energy efficiency monitoring implemented in the form of the web portal. Within the Slovenian national project development program “e-storitve 2012” the consortium of INEA, XLAB and Domel started a development of an energy monitoring solution based on the advanced IT platforms for the industrial and business sector, called “SPEU”.

The project background was sourced from the cognitions that the energy monitoring systems in the industrial sector are not used to the level of their capabilities. The main limitations noticed were 1) information collected by the system remained within the technical sector and out of the business domain, 2) the evaluation of the energy consumption was limited to the single consumer not giving the comparison on the external and global level and 3) relatively large installation and maintenance cost prevent small end user to decide for application and equipment investment.

The main target of the project was to address the limitations by designing the energy monitoring application on the cloud computing platform. The idea of the application is bringing the monitoring information from several end users to the common workspace enabling the inter-company comparison of energy efficiency processes based on the common efficiency indicators. The indicators may be sourced from standards or created from the practice. The users may find this service interesting for up to date consumption monitoring, evaluation of the energy efficiency measures, cost reduction and increase their competitive position on the market. The service is designed on the cloud computing technology, namely OpenStack, and leverages software defined networks (SDNs) that OpenStack provides (DMZs for publicly accessible portals, dedicated subnets for development purposes). Since external sensors are external to the IaaS, these are connected using OpenVPN through dedicated OpenVPN server, also deployed within the IaaS. Main building blocks of the application are: MS SQL Servers (development and production version) with REST API, OpenVPN server, Analytics module, Web portals (also development and production instances), and external interfaces for the sensors collecting measurements. The developed solution uses the SaaS (Software as a Service) architecture utilizing multi-tenant architecture, which includes the front-end web server, backend database and middle-tier business logic. Moreover, the architecture itself does not prevent us to transform the solution to be used within PaaS environments, since each component provides a RESTful API. Additionally the usage of REST (Representational state transfer) enables the load balancing mechanism and increased the elasticity of the used resources.

The main innovation is adaptation of the monitoring solution on the advanced IT cloud computing platform, what enables the massive access of the users and consumers coming from different types of branches, implementation of benchmarking designed for the business processes, and easier application access by using of various (mobile) communication user display devices.

Next research and innovation steps are enhancement of the application usage by adding new consumers, management of the portal’s infrastructure using monitoring and auditing of the resources, improving the benchmark performance indicators definition, investigation of the alternative protocols for connection between external sensors and the main database and inclusion of advanced data analytical tools for data processing.

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