Sunday, February 23, 2014

Deployed Enterprise Historian in the Cloud Discussions with Actual Use Cases, Confirms the Opportunity for Leveraging the Cloud to Increase Uptime.

This week I had dinner with a client from the water industry who has just deployed Invensys's Enterprise Historian in the cloud. While I have had many discussions with potential users of historian in the cloud, but the opportunity to discuss 1 on 1 with one of the first implementers was too tempting.
He comes out of the water industry, and they deployed two systems, for two city water systems. They have tiered architecture with tier 1 historian on sites, feeding to the Enterprise Historian. They have used a local historian, with a 7 day storage, with the intent of using the Cloud Enterprise Historian as the analysis tool across the sites, for analysis.
I asked, " why had they gone to the cloud?"
The answer was due to increased reliability in the cloud vs hosting at the city Center and expecting someone to maintain it.
They have found over time the reliability of having a historian on site for long term data in cities is not effective, as the maintenance on the PCs/ servers, upgrading OS’s and management of archiving the data was not been done as regularly as required. With the increased regulations requiring data to be stored for at least 7 years, this risk needed to be addressed. A discussion of why this issue of historian maintenance was an issue and it came down to the Historian falling under the plant automation teams, and they did not see the PC’s and Servers as maintenance items, like they did say a pump. IT, on the other hand, would monitor the PC with performance measures to escalate issues.
So to resolve the issue the client has taken advantage of the new Enterprise Historian in the cloud offering from Invensys/ Schneider Electric where the historian is managed by Invensys/ Schneider Electric, in its cloud system working with Microsoft Azure. The uptime of the system is supplied by Microsoft with it’s Azure infrastructure, and data centers, combined with the expert managed services from Invensys / Schneider Electric. Who install and set up the system, monitor the system for data usage and archiving, and manage the operating System, and product upgrades?
Removing the whole management of the data from customer.
A series of clients hosted in the cloud are available for analysis by the user.
There was no question of security; it was assumed and believed that Cloud infrastructure is more secure than they can maintain on remote sites. This has been proven many times, and I ask people who doubt this to understand how secure your own managed historian is from an up time point of view and data security, especially as the breadth of users accessing the data increases.
It was nice to validate the original intent of building an Enterprise Historian in the cloud, and reaffirm the trend we seeing of the internet becoming a natural part of the industrial information architecture.
This case was interesting as it was new, but I suspect a year from now this will be common, as the challenge of maintaining historians and servers on remote sites, or in companies scaling back on plant engineers increases.  

The comment I heard in New Zealand a year ago “ why would I put a server on a plant site in water again” comes ringing back to my ears!  

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