Oct 27, 2022

Securely connecting the utility dots - An imperative for rapid digital transformation

Microland’s Secure + Compliant Cloud

Resilient cloud transformation, reduced TCO, and improved stakeholder experiences

The proof is in the cloud: The UK’s utilities evolve to meet the moment.

If you’re the CIO of a utility enterprise in the UK you wouldn’t be blamed for feeling like the four horsemen of the apocalypse have arrived at your doorstep. 

2022 has been quite a year for utility enterprises:

Mandated climate change mitigation efforts necessitate new energy sources and business practices; geopolitical turmoil is causing unnecessary capacity constraints; economic whiplash (high inflation rates/low unemployment rates) is spelling slimming profit margins and a shortage of skilled workers; and a tsunami of ransomware attacks and other security threats making for some sleepless nights.

It’s a lot to manage, and yet, utilities are getting the job done by putting cloud / hybrid cloud solutions at the core of their infrastructure strategy. Doing so allows them to accelerate energy and water transmission while delivering on sustainability priorities and government mandates to realize pricing efficiencies and keep data secure. 

In fact, the benefits of this digital transformation are so significant that municipalities, as well as Ofgem and Ofwat are now mandating that utilities move quickly on their digital transformation journeys. All in the name of satisfying consumers’ need for safe, low-cost energy and water.  

However, this heightened urgency to move to the cloud presents a rather daunting set of challenges because most utility enterprises still predominantly run on legacy infra. 

There’s no way around it: once you start moving your infrastructure and applications to the cloud there are going to be challenges — primarily around security and compliance.  On your journey away from legacy infra to the cloud, it would be wise to have a tested road map and an experienced guide well-versed in moving legacy systems (such as SCADA) to the cloud.

Aside from the hurdles of modernizing and securing legacy data and apps, there’s also the matter of keeping thousands of mission critical sensors functioning at 100% during the migration. And, of course, the health of the nation’s citizens depends upon water and energy delivery. So there’s a lot at stake. 

For years Microland has been helping utility enterprises go digital with a secure, automation-driven cloud strategy at the core — one that is compliant today (NIST, CIP, NERC) and capable of evolving to meet future regulations and threats.

Microland’s Secure and Compliant Cloud for Utilities: A transformation road map.

Our Secure and Compliant Cloud for Utilities was specifically designed as a robust cloud transformation & operations framework delivering the highest level of resilience and compliance. This proprietary methodology accelerates the enterprise cloud journey while unlocking significant business value along the way.  It is AI-Ops driven with built-in security and compliance controls to ensure seamless and secure mission-critical operations across public, private & hybrid clouds.

Typically, this journey to the cloud begins with a phased approach starting with a hybrid environment and incremental adoption of infrastructure and software solutions such as analytics and industrial IOT to optimize assets and eliminate downtime. 

Once critical asset data can be analyzed, utilities can easily start looking for patterns such as assets nearing end of optimal useful life or areas where there is a risk of costly catastrophic failure. This data also helps field and maintenance staff work safer and be more productive. 

Monitoring a growing number of assets in a complex, decentralized, distributed grid is a Herculean task requiring extreme digitalization and automation as the infra footprint evolves to include distributed cloud and edge computing (for example, a small data center embedded in a wind turbine). This distributed footprint must be continuously monitored and maintained.

But there’s also a really fun part. The goal is for artificial intelligence, data analytics, remote sensors, automation, and drones to enable the automation of frequent tasks such as inspection and maintenance. 

Predictive intelligence will point to when and where the next outage is likely to occur.

Further, the treasure-trove of consumer data available to utilities enables engagement avenues like charging stations for electrical cars and solar powering stations at campgrounds.

And of course, this proliferation of endpoints expands the cyber threat landscape. So, we enable utilities with continuous remediation strategies and monitoring of risk posture levels. To make it easier to report and meet compliance requirements, Microland offers real-time viewing of compliance levels against various regulatory and industry standards.

Most importantly, AI systems are embedded within critical infrastructure to resolve persistent cybersecurity challenges and perform advanced network monitoring to detect anomalies. Software analysis techniques identify and address vulnerabilities in code at the first indication of an attack.

Bottom line: The complex, decentralized, distributed utility grid becomes an intelligent, sensing, responsive infra that is always on, always at work, and always secure.

5 ways Secure and Compliant Cloud (SCC) earns its stripes

  1. SCC is certified for international security requirements, including critical data security standards such as NCSC, NIST, ISO 27001, and GDPR.
  2. SCC assures compliant operations with multi-layered controls adhering to global standards as well as UK regulations: Network & Information Systems Regulations, National Cyber Security Centre, OFGEM, and OFWAT to name a few.
  3. Our SCC team expertly applies AI-systems within critical infrastructure to resolve persistent cybersecurity challenges. Big Data is deployed to realize operational efficiencies, reduce costs, lower carbon emissions, and manage energy and water demand for end consumers.
  4. SCC results: 100% compliance and regulatory adherence; close to 100% critical infrastructure availability and reliability; up to a 95% reduction in security vulnerabilities with improved cyber resiliency.
  5. Utility clients also enjoy an average of 25% savings on operational expenses, greatly enhanced customer experiences, and a thriving, safer workforce.

About the Author

Sunil Sarat, Senior Vice President & Global Client Solutions Leader - Cloud, Data Center & Digital Workplace. With 20+ years of experience in Infrastructure & Cloud, Sunil’s core responsibilities at Microland include creating new services & solutions that drive Microland’s customers digital transformation roadmap.

Get in touch today

Chat with one of our Secure and Compliant Cloud (SCC) team members to learn more about how Microland can develop a customized roadmap to shift your Utilities Enterprise to the cloud.