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Utilities Seek Competitive Advantages in the Digital Age

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The digital transformation is underway in the utilities industry, with many public and private service providers modernizing grids and replacing aging infrastructure and assets with more efficient technology.

The smart grids of today utilize computers, automation and new technologies to detect and respond digitally to local changes in energy consumption. A smart grid falls in line with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which can enhance industrial processes and operational efficiency, utilizing cloud computing, big data, cyber security, machine learning and edge computing. Due to shifting customer needs and the need to stay competitive in the digital age, utilities worldwide are increasingly looking for ways to implement IIoT processes through cloud services.

The utility industry is expected to invest more than $4 billion in public cloud solutions by 2019, with key priorities of improving operational efficiency, increasing customer satisfaction and avoiding outages. The cloud provides highly available infrastructure, data storage and backup, disaster recovery, routine maintenance, patching and cyber security to address these needs. The cloud also provides a virtual environment of scalable services that will be agile and resilient well into the future. Utilizing cloud hosting solutions means utilities would no longer have to purchase, replace, maintain and update hardware on a regular basis.

Traditional data migration to the cloud can create challenges for organizations concerned about support for their legacy IT systems. Utilities still using legacy technology can partner with a managed service provider to receive technical support or modernize their systems. For the foreseeable future, the mainframe will continue to be a critical part of the business and operational growth of thousands of organizations that rely on it for increasing workloads. Managed mainframe services can smooth the rough edges of legacy IT systems. At FNTS, we explain it as the equivalent of moving from an entry-level vehicle to a top-of-the-line sports car, without feeling the financial pinch.

FNTS works with organizations to provide them with a secure, cost-effective cloud and data center solutions, making the digital transformation efficient and painless. FNTS leverages its partnerships with companies like Microsoft, VMWare, DellEMC and Pivotal to provide services and licenses to organizations so that when technology changes, their business will still be ahead of the curve.

At FNTS, we’re seeing smaller organizations make the digital transformation in as little as two weeks. The migration can take three to six months for organizations with several hundred servers. A substantial amount of planning and research is done to prepare for the transition. Once migration is finalized, security, hardware and operating systems will be updated on an ongoing basis.

In some cases, outsourcing data center and cloud hosting services allows companies to save 20 percent or more on their operating costs. After the digital transformation is complete, utilities end up with an extended team of IT professionals who look for the latest changes in technology, in turn, freeing up an organization’s staff so they can focus on their bottom line.

By utilizing FNTS’ data center services and cloud hosting solutions, MUD, the fifth-largest public gas utility in the United States, has saved $3 million in the first year alone.