Bill Roth, Ulitzer Editor-at-Large

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Taming the Smart Grid: Log Management to the Rescue

Companies with existing LogLogic implementations are experimenting with ways to implement log management with this new technology. On the energy distribution side, Smart Meters collect information about energy usage at the residential and commercial level, and some companies are using their existing appliances to monitor and correlate Smart Meter-related events, as well as route the data to other systems for billing and other activities.

“The big challenge that we’re looking at moving forward is going from a typical enterprise where we’ve got fifteen to twenty thousand various log sources that we have to monitor and analyze, over to the Smart Meter initiative, which has added two and a half million devices and growing,” says an energy company operations manager. “And all of these devices need to be logged and monitored individually.” 

One regional utility using LogLogic to monitor its Smart Meters is currently monitoring only exception logs – such as ‘meter was read’, ‘meter reset’, ‘power out’, ‘power on’, etc. The message volume is currently quite low, even though the organization is monitoring more than 2.5 million devices. But the volume could increase dramatically depending on developments within the industry. Whereas the utility currently collects data from meters every six hours, if the industry moves to collecting data every five minutes – something that is likely to come from the public utilities commission – with tens of millions of meters, message volume will skyrocket.

Another application of log management principles includes the setup of a new SEM vendor and a Smart Meter-specific network operation center (NOC) for one organization. Using LogLogic as its message routing infrastructure, the company used the dynamic groups feature to build device pools based on an IP address range in order to route a subset of messages between the SEM vendor and the NOC that wanted to see a separate subset of messages. Previously, this had been a challenge, as the backbone application infrastructure could only send logs to one destination. By using LogLogic as the primary relay rather than NOC application, and using dynamic groups, the organization was able to split out the messages between the two separate applications.

LogLogic’s tagging feature is also proving useful to companies implementing Smart Grid projects. As more and more Smart Meters are deployed, reporting requirements have increased. LogLogic is enabling one company to prepare reports on specific sets of meters, and allows them to look for similar incidents from groups of meters and at particular locations. For instance if ten meters on the same block suddenly start reporting a tamper detection or a meter opened, they want to be able to create an alert. Because the meters come in as IP-less devices, they are not seen as separate devices within LogLogic. But, by using the tagging feature, the company is able to determine the meter ID and report on it.

Using logs collected by LogLogic, utilities can monitor the security of their Smart Meters or the Smart Grid technology, as well as perform operations and availability monitoring. Data from Smart Meters can be collected by the LogLogic appliance and sent off to multiple sources in order to trigger alerts or provide visibility into issues or problems.

Though many companies are not currently logging their Smart Grid initiatives, at least one energy company is using LogLogic to monitor and log the data from its Smart Meters. “We have rolled out over two million Smart Meters and are developing a usage analysis application infrastructure to collect and analyze the data from these devices,” says the company’s operations support lead.

Our next post looks at where Smart Grid technology could very realistically go.

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More Stories By Bill Roth

Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.