SERA, Succinctly

Utilities around the world have expressed unprecedented interest in the Smart Energy Reference Architecture that was published last year by Larry Cochrane, the utilities industry technology strategist for the Microsoft Worldwide Power and Utilities Group.

After its publication, utilities around the world have called on us for presentations. We don’t want to bore you with details but we’ve been to Canada, Australia, India, Hong Kong, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, Texas (they’re a whole other country, as they say!) and nearly every other state in the continental United States, plus 500 people on LiveMeeting’s that span the globe as well. In sum, we’ve briefed key stakeholders and utilities, across the complete value chain, and across every continent on the planet since SERA’s launch in October! There is real need for structure and discipline about the implementation of the smart grid and other elements of the smart energy ecosystem.

Aside from the implicit accolade of being asked to provide more details about how SERA could work at those utilities, we were humbled recently to receive one more note describing the positive effects that SERA can have on an organization, precisely because of its ability to centralize an IT department’s effort.

With permission, I am sharing below the very succinct and direct comments that John Shaw, the CIO and head of information clip_image002technology at Mainstream Renewable Power, wrote as introduction and instruction to his technology team about the value of SERA to their overall technology effort. In my view, Shaw’s comments represent the best practices for a customer leveraging the true value and purpose of SERA in the marketplace. You have to admire his direct writing and summarization skills. I sure do!

As background, Mainstream Renewable Power is a Global Renewable Energy Developer Start-up that uses 19 Microsoft products to enable its agility. Founded in February 2008 by Dr. Eddie O’Connor, CE), Mainstream operates in eight countries and has amassed a considerable project pipeline of wind farms. Here’s John’s email about SERA. Take it away John!


Microsoft has published it’s Smart Energy Reference Architecture (SERA) which describes a vision for The Smart Energy Ecosystem. This is important for Mainstream because it gives us a roadmap to maximize the value of our Information and Communications Technology (ICT) investment.

Microsoft’s SERA sections

SERA has 4 sections for differing audiences:

1. Evolution of the Grid describes the forces shaping our industry’s ICT and gives an overview of key challenges.

2. Changing Demands on the Business, offers an ICT architectural vision of the entire value chain from generation to end-consumer.

3. Architecture Section is for ICT engineers and covers the Microsoft technologies available to our industry.

4. Microsoft Technology Stack Section lists the Microsoft products that enable this architectural vision.

A softcopy of SERA is available on the Microsoft Utilities Website (It’s in the ‘Spotlight’ Section).        

Mainstream’s current ICT landscape

Because Mainstream has exclusively worked with Microsoft, we don’t need a 3rd party consultancy to interpret our ICT needs. Mainstream has invested in 19 Microsoft products to date and Mainstream is in full compliance with SERA.

New ICT requirements at Mainstream

We are evaluating 4 new systems to meet our unfolding business requirements;

· Customer Relationship Management System

· Enterprise GIS System

· Data Historian System

· Asset Management System

New ICT solutions

In each case a SERA-compliant technology is available, specifically;

· Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Customer Relationship Management

· ESRI ArcGIS Server for Enterprise GIS

· OSIsoft PI for Data Historian

· Information Asset Management for Asset Management

Microsoft Ecosystem

ESRI, OSIsoft and Infor are 3 companies who have partnered with Microsoft, follow SERA and form part of an emerging ‘Microsoft Ecosystem’. Their products are certified by Microsoft as being fully compatibility with Microsoft’s Stack. By choosing these products we gain by minimizing the cost of implementation and support.

Mainstream’s ICT Strategy

We want faster, simpler, better, cheaper ICT. Our ICT Strategy is all about delivering value by keeping it simple and by working with 4 strategic partners (Microsoft, eircom, HP, Intel). Mainstream’s ICT Strategy is fully compatible with SERA and we gain most value from our existing IT investment by sticking with this standard. We don’t need a systems integrator because we have integrated systems.




John, we thank you and we are very pleased that you are using SERA as a foundation of your ICT strategy to deliver value to your company and customers! – Jon C. Arnold

Comments (1)
  1. smartgrid says:

    John, We have implemented SERA in our newer Mapjects smartgrid server, but the SERA reference architecture doesnt talk about IEC or CIM exchanges, is there an overlap?

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