MarketScope for Outage Management Systems
This MarketScope updates vendor positioning for outage management systems for buyers of emergency restoration systems in the energy and utility market.
Extreme weather events — combined with an aging infrastructure that results from protracted low investment in utility delivery networks — are straining utility companies' efforts to maintain mandated customer service levels. The utility industry depends on outage management systems (OMSs) as a solution to support emergency response and ensure customer service quality. In addition, OMSs contribute to improving labor efficiency and maintaining revenue expectations by faster service restoration. Consequently, utility regulators tend to respond favorably on cost recovery for investments in OMSs.
Since 2007, Gartner has assessed the OMS market as it helps energy utility clients that are seeking solutions to improve their emergency network restoration processes. Initially, we were using the Magic Quadrant as the appropriate vendor position framework for the OMS market, which was exhibiting characteristics of a mature market, with multiple consumer off-the-shelf (COTS) product offerings. In 2011, we decided to switch vendor-positioning assessment to a different framework — the Gartner MarketScope. We selected this framework not only to capture changes in customer buying criteria, but more importantly to indicate that the OMS market is disappearing as a stand-alone software category. This is because we see trends among utilities to incorporate emergency restoration processes in an emerging utility software product — advanced distribution management systems (ADMSs), which automate "normal operation" distribution management activities and storm-related emergency restoration management activities.
The utility industry is increasingly focused on the development of the future energy delivery infrastructure — the smart grid. Among other benefits, the smart grid should improve network resilience via the use of advanced control functions, such as self-healing and event avoidance. This focus has fueled buyer interest in solutions that can integrate smart grid technology into the OMS environment. As a result, OMSs are evolving beyond an emergency response decision support system into a component of an integrated smart grid management platform. Integrating OMS products with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for outage notification and the callback function — as well as including the automated switching operation, which is intended to minimize an affected area through the use of advanced protection systems and local automation — is pushing OMSs into the realm of ADMS. In addition, access to up-to-date consumption data, via the meter data management (MDM) component of AMI, provides network-loading data for system analysis, which is required to study the planned switching actions' impact on feeder overload or to model price-sensitive load as a result of utility-deployed demand-response programs.
Consequently, as we predicted in 2005, the narrowly defined "conventional" OMS is disappearing as a distinct software product category. While there is still demand for software that automates emergency restoration functions, it is increasingly being integrated into ADMS products. They provide more-comprehensive distribution operation functionality and incorporate smart grid technologies. For a detailed definition of the ADMS software market and vendor positioning in this emerging market, see "Market Definition: Advanced Distribution Management System Products" and "MarketScope for Advanced Distribution Management Systems."
OMSs originally emerged from North American electric utility markets as predominantly overhead structures of the distribution network, and the propensity for extreme weather conditions (hurricanes and ice storms) makes them more susceptible to service interruptions. North American electric utilities that have mostly radial distribution feeders serving large suburban areas with lower population densities were among the first to implement OMSs, driven by customers' demands for improved service quality, and the need to provide an auditable network performance history to regulators. Further development of additional OMS functionality, including more-sophisticated network modeling tools and current product capabilities to deal with looped distribution networks, such as those used in urban areas with greater population densities, is making OMSs more interesting not only to North American utilities serving densely populated urban areas, but also to utilities in EMEA and Asia/Pacific where networks tend to be operated in looped structures. Since emergency restoration is not the main concern for utilities in EMEA and Asia/Pacific, software used outside the Americas to automate distribution network management functions has been historically known as distribution management systems (DMSs). DMS products tend to focus their functionality on distribution work management (for example, switching and clearance/safety management); distribution network analysis (such as switching optimization, loss minimization and voltage/VA control) and some real-time monitoring and control — if distribution supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) coverage is available.
One of the key requirements for successful OMS implementation is access to an accurate network connectivity model that reflects the actual distribution network topology, from the distribution substation to each customer connection point. OMSs contain an outage determination engine, which is usually based on a network-tracing schema that lets customer outage calls automatically roll up to common protective devices, as the most likely device that operated, so that field operations staffs can manage the fastest, safest and most effective responses.
OMS products have evolved from two distinct origins:
- Geographic information system (GIS) providers
- Distribution analysis (planning and operational) product vendors
Some GIS-based application providers (such as GE Energy, Intergraph and Telvent) have added OMS functionality to their GIS-based product offering. They are leveraging their core capability to manage and update the network data model, as well as leveraging their GIS rendering engine for a geographically referenced UI.
Distribution analysis applications for planning (for example, ABB's Network Manager DMS, which is currently marketed as Ventyx Network Manager DMS, and Milsoft's DisSPatch) or for operational needs (such as GE Energy's Electrical Network Management and Control [Enmac] distribution network management product and ACS Efacec Prism Real-Time OMS) are leveraging their network connectivity models, resulting from the overall electric model used for operational network analysis. They tend to use network schematic UIs.
OMS products currently offered on the market support a number of functions, such as:
- Providing timely, accurate outage information (customer-specific as well as distribution-network-specific) to help utilities be more responsive to unplanned network outages
- Tracking, grouping and displaying outages, tracking crew assignments to the outages, and monitoring the state of the restoration activities to safely and efficiently manage emergency-related work
- Providing relevant information to stakeholders (utility personnel, consumers, media and regulators) on the state of the restoration process
- Tightly integrating with call centers to receive trouble calls and provide customer-specific network status, including the estimated restoration time
Based on a network connectivity model and trouble call patterns, OMSs can:
- Identify the likely location of the faults, thus eliminating costly and time-consuming bird-dogging to find the outage
- Integrate with SCADA systems for real-time network status to analyze the downstream impact of SCADA-reported switching actions
OMSs are also commonly used for historical outage reporting and automated calculation of reliability indexes — such as the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) and the System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) — based on time-stamped network switching operations, as well as customer-related interruption indexes, such as the Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI).
OMSs tend to be stressed during the major storms, which is also the time when they are expected to provide the most value to the users. Consequently, OMSs must be highly available systems that perform well during major events and can scale under the most extreme conditions. Modern OMSs must include disaster recovery remote-failover capabilities. They are often deployed in two separate control centers for business continuity purposes.
Furthermore, we see a few emerging trends in the OMS market:
- As a central component of smart grid initiatives, ADMSs are becoming a hot application area in North America to manage distributed controls, and for self-healing features as the next step beyond basic dispatch center OMS functionality. Since North American utilities have had limited access to distribution SCADA, compared to the rest of the world, traditional DMS as a software category has been more common in EMEA and Asia/Pacific. These regions are now pursuing more OMSs and smart grid functionality. Established DMS vendors are offering a "trouble call subsystem" as a component of their DMS solutions, or partnering with niche OMS vendors to provide a more comprehensive solution.
- As the AMI implementation takes greater hold in North America, North American utilities are now considering AMI as a data repository for demand interval data that can enhance distribution analysis for operations. Improved and more granular load data and event notifications, coupled with historian software, can enhance existing distribution management functions that require network analysis based on loading data. Several suppliers are working on capabilities that leverage AMI data: Ventyx, Advanced Control Systems (ACS), GE Energy, Oracle Utilities, Siemens, Telvent DMS and others.
- Smart grid initiatives aimed at creating more-resilient, self-healing distribution networks and deploying event avoidance functions are pushing the integration of traditional OMSs, with distribution network operation and control automation systems (such as automatic reclosing and advanced distribution protection). Governmental funding of smart grid projects has helped vendors and utilities collaborate on specific requirements. OMS vendors are now focusing on building these smart grid features into their production systems. These efforts have resulted in a number of partnerships, including Intergraph's partnership with Siemens to integrate intelligent grid control functionality into its OMS distribution dispatch offering, as well as Oracle's partnership with S&C Electric Co., and CGI's partnership with Cooper Power Systems — which are intended to better integrate OMS and DMS applications with substation and distribution automation systems.
- Utilities have increasing needs to coordinate outage restoration efforts with public emergency/crisis management organizations. Several high-profile commission inquiries into utility restoration practices in recent years have highlighted this concern. U.S. Department of Homeland Security requirements for better coordination of emergency responses have also required more rigor from utilities. Two organizations that are well-positioned to address coordination with public emergency organizations are Intergraph, whose product originally addressed public-sector disaster management needs, and Trimble, which acquired Let Systems in 2011, whose product was designed to manage events in water, sewer and storm drainage networks.
- As mentioned above, AMI functionality is being leveraged by DMS and OMS applications. AMI can provide information that is useful for detecting outages, inferring their location and validating successful outage restoration by "pinging" bellwether meters. Smart meters provide the OMS with new "nerve endings" through outage notifications. Customer service representatives and dispatchers can ping meters to verify restoration or to improve the performance of the inference engine. During restoration, aggregation of load data from interval meters can make it possible to calculate very accurately the reserve capacity for automatic switch plan generation. (It should be noted that this may become less useful as more-accurate network models and real-time distribution load flow applications are implemented.) Finally, during reliability analysis and reporting, AMI integration will provide time-stamped event histories, leading to a more-granular reliability reporting capability. Other side benefits will accrue, such as asset-management-related analysis (for example, transformer thermal loading calculations and capacity constraint analysis) or loss (that is, diversion/theft) detection for customer service.
Following customer and regulator backlash, with the sluggish storm response by some northeastern U.S. utilities during the winter of 2011/12, we see increased interest in social media (such as Twitter for outbound broadcasting of state-of-restoration activities) to improve customer visibility in storm restoration activities (see "Social Media Provides Utilities a New Channel for Customer Engagement").
Utilities considering buying an OMS should re-evaluate their network operations, customer service strategies and overall smart grid strategies. Accordingly, they should decide whether to install a new OMS, upgrade legacy solutions or wait until a new breed of ADMS comes of age. Some of the legacy solutions provide only a trouble call functionality, and lack the ability to manage the storm restoration process. Some of the advanced requirements that we hear from our clients regarding solution scope and product architecture are not yet met by current providers, nor have they been fully implemented and proved in production.
Utility managers must consider market dynamics when making OMS investment decisions. For example, in competitive retail markets, with unbundled customer and network asset ownership, there is an additional requirement to enable collaboration between two separate entities. The OMS must bridge operations of the distribution network operator, responsible for managing network assets, and the energy retailer, responsible for managing customer service. In markets with significant merger-and-acquisition (M&A) activities, we see the emergence of large utility companies, serving millions of customers spread over large territories. Consequently, the OMS must be designed for a wide-area deployment, including high scalability (ability to process several hundred thousand customer calls and AMI event messages per hour). Otherwise, utilities may be forced to revert to manual storm restoration management in extreme events.
OMS buyers need to ensure that vendors are well-versed in integration technologies and best practices. OMS products reacquire a high level of integration with other systems on the IT side (such as CIS) or OT side (such as distribution SCADA). Consequently OMS vendors must be well-versed in integration architecture best practices, such as enterprise service bus (ESB) and industry data exchange standards (such as the Common Information Model [CIM] or MultiSpeak standards). Vendor participation in CIM interoperability testing, or certification of MultiSpeak compliance, is an indicator of maturity in integration capabilities.
The Gartner Magic Quadrant and MarketScope vendor positioning concept is based on a customer-oriented market analysis (see "Modern Technology Markets Defined"). Consistent with the approach espoused by business author Geoffrey Moore, a market is "a set of actual or potential customers for a given set of products or services who have a common set of needs or wants, and who reference each other when making a decision."
Accordingly, the OMS market is composed of distribution utilities worldwide (primarily electric utilities, but also gas and water utilities), which are looking for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software solutions, as well as related hardware, integration and support services, to improve responsiveness and communications (to the workforce, customers and media) in the emergency work management areas. OMS functionality extends across distribution field operations, work management and asset management into the specific customer service area of outage information management.
Core OMS requirements are:
- Tools for maintaining the network topology/connectivity model and specific customer connections (including quality assurance/quality control) to perform outage determination and call center interactions with customers
- Methods for two-way interactions with customer information systems (CISs) to receive customer outage tickets and provide customer-specific outage information to call centers, or with interactive voice response (IVR) systems to provide specific outage updates to affected customers, as well as to provide callback functions to validate restoration status
- An ability to interface with real-time network operation devices via SCADA, or an automated meter reading (AMR) system or an AMI, to obtain switching operation status or "last gasp" information from AMI meters and use this to pinpoint the likely location of the fault or to validate service restoration via "virtual callback" function
- Methods to systematically manage and maintain real-time network model changes, safety tagging and clearance processes (sometimes called "electronic wallboards")
- An ability to interface with mobile workforce management (MWM) and work management systems to assign work crews to restoration jobs
- An ability to act as a database of record for switching operations, and to provide a reporting environment for distribution reliability indexes
To be included in this category, software products must cater to the majority of the utility outage management functional requirements described above.
Worldwide, more than 20 vendors address utility needs for outage management through a variety of products and solution offerings. Many of these vendors are too small — in terms of company size, product scope or geographic reach — to be of interest to Gartner clients. For this reason, we evaluated only the top nine products, with an estimated license fee revenue threshold of $1 million generated during the past 12 months. OMS vendors must have had systems in production at more than four utility clients for more than one year. The combined customer base must serve more than 1 million utility end-user customers.
Products must be marketed as stand-alone utility OMS applications, although some of them are also offered as part of an overall utility suite, such as ADMS, but must be also offered in a separable form.
Distribution SCADA companies are providing some OMS functionality in their DMS applications, but they do not yet meet all the inclusion criteria for this study both from the functional scope perspective as well as from the number of installed sites in production perspective. Products used to manage and coordinate planned outage activities in the transmission and generation domains, such as those provided by Nexant/Equinox Software Design, OATI or Sun-Net Consulting, are not considered in this market analysis. They address different needs of transmission asset operators, such as independent system operators (ISOs), regional transmission organizations (RTOs) or transmission system operators (TSOs).
Overall Market Rating: Caution
As early as 2005, Gartner defined ADMS as a future utility software market that would encompass all network management activities in the distribution domain. At the same time, we predicted the demise of the OMS as a separate software category and its subsequent inclusion in the ADMS market. However, market development was relatively slow, albeit steady, until 2009/2010. Following the worldwide focus on smart grid initiatives, utility interest in ADMS solutions has grown significantly, placing it at the Peak of Inflated Expectations in "Hype Cycle for Smart Grid Technologies, 2011."
The Caution rating was selected, not based on the lack of OMS product functionality or immaturity of the solutions, because, in general, the rated vendors offer products that are functionally rich and capable of addressing the majority of "traditional" OMS needs out of the box. Rather, this rating was selected to indicate that vendors are turning their attention away from the existing OMS market. Although vendors continue to get some traction in the "pure" OMS market, increased market demand for an integrated distribution management solution in the form of an ADMS product is effectively cannibalizing the OMS market. Driven by the increased demand for integrated solutions, leading vendors in the OMS market are trying to integrate operational network analysis and distribution automation functions into their offerings. In some sectors, such as Tier 1 utility companies (which tend to be more focused on procuring integrated distribution management solutions), buyers are considering postponing the procurement of pure OMS solutions until a new breed of ADMS comes of age. This will reduce vendor revenue from the OMS sector and, consequently, result in lower R&D and marketing investments in traditional OMSs, leading to their eventual demise.
Although this observation is accurate for the Tier 1 electric utility OMS market (which is where the OMS product originated, and where vendors make more than 95% of their revenue), the gas utility market and, in particular, the water utility market are not yet exposed to the smart grid initiatives, so there are no corresponding gas and water ADMS products to compete for customers' and vendors' development dollars. In addition, the Tier 2 and Tier 3 utilities' markets are much less saturated. Nine OMS vendors that are rated in this MarketScope have reported, cumulatively, more than 40 new OMS contract awards (half of those from small and rural utilities) in the 12 months following the last rating.
Source: Gartner (June 2012)
Source: Gartner (June 2012)
CGI is a Canadian professional service organization, with 2011 reported revenue of $4.3 billion and a workforce of 31,000 professionals (500 dedicated to serving the utility industry). In addition to providing a variety of horizontal professional IT services (such as system integration, application management, infrastructure management and business process services), CGI maintains a portfolio of more than 100 products in different vertical sectors, including a set of solutions in MWM (PragmaCAD MWM) and OMS (PragmaLINE OMS) built on top of the unified geographic referenced UI environment (PragmaGEO). With its large pool of resources and high software development maturity, CGI can be an appropriate partner for customers looking to extend product functionality through significant custom development.
CGI's OMS product traces its origin to the mid-1990s and a Hydro-Quebec spinoff company called M3i Systems, which was acquired by Cognicase in 2002. Cognicase became part of the CGI holding in 2003. PragmaLINE runs on the Windows platform, with an Oracle RDBMS. The largest implementation site remains Southern California Edison (SCE), with 4.6 million customers. Other longtime customers include Tampa Electric Co. and Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G). With CGI's OMS product, PSE&G managed 19,000 outage calls per hour in production, without performance degradation.
- CGI PragmaLINE has evolved from one of the earliest products to enter the OMS market. The product has a strong history of proven performance across multiple types of utilities.
- Due to its maturity, the PragmaLINE switching and switching workflow management engine — including clearance and tagging integration, management of planned and unplanned outages, and notification of affected customers — rates among the best, compared with competitors' offerings.
- CGI's system integration expertise offers customers a deep bench in implementation resources and an ISO 9001-certified project methodology. However, no other system integrator partners are made available for this product.
- CGI reports an increasing percentage of services and maintenance revenue, with decreased growth in new product license sales. The CGI OMS product may need additional investment to counter aging code. Recent co-investment by CGI and the Quebec government in new university-industry partnerships for smart grid ICTs may help address a need for OMS product modernization.
- Customers preferring COTS OMS integration capabilities will want to evaluate CGI's commitment to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards and its Web services offering.
- Customers planning to tightly couple OMS capabilities with advanced DMS analytics will achieve that only through a multivendor implementation, since CGI is not active in the DMS market.
Efacec Advanced Control Systems (Efacec ACS) is owned by Efacec, a 4,200-employee Portuguese equipment and automation company that is privately held by two investment groups. Efacec ACS offers a Prism OMS product, with outage management functions closely integrated with its Prism DMS product. OMS features support trouble-call taking, incident analysis, switch planning, crew assignment and management, and real-time reliability reporting. Small to midsize utilities that have moderate outage management requirements and need a consolidated, real-time network topology will find Efacec ACS's offering attractive.
Prism OMS runs on the Windows and Linux platform (Oracle 10g/11g). The largest installation is Anaheim Public Utilities (for the city of Anaheim, California), with 125,000 customers. The largest number of calls experienced in production during an outage is 2,000 (coming from an AMI system).
Efacec ACS has not demonstrated significant market movement since the last MarketScope, and was not able to provide verifiable customer references.
- Like other distribution SCADA vendors, Efacec ACS has designed its OMS features within its existing real-time environment. The outage management functions access the same network model as the DMS, and the UI is built with the same development environment. This offers a consistent user experience, including a Web-based client (GridVu), as well as a single point of update for data maintenance activities.
- Call-taking features are closely integrated with a companion IVR product. The OMS includes a call-taking screen that can be deployed to customer service representatives, and also includes an automated crew call-out system.
- Interfaces are supported for six GISs. Interface methods include standard APIs and support for Web services, CIM and MultiSpeak. However, these are not yet prepackaged offerings.
- Crew management functionality is not as full-featured as other OMS vendors. Operators can create crews, assign them to tickets and monitor crew workload. Off-duty lists, accumulated work durations and backlogs are included.
- While Efacec ACS's product compares favorably with its competitors from a technical functionality perspective, its OMS customer base is limited to a few utilities, mostly municipal organizations. Larger utilities will require product testing at high call volumes. (Higher-volume testing is under way in two current projects.)
- Efacec ACS does not list any vendor or system integration partners; thus, customers depend on Efacec ACS's resources for product implementation and customization.
GE Energy is a $37 billion worldwide supplier of power generation and energy delivery technologies. In 2010, GE formed the GE Digital Energy unit that consolidated product and solution offerings in metering and sensing, smart substations, and EMS/DMS/OMS/field force automation (FFA)/mobile products, and power delivery solutions (power equipment and testing). Further change was introduced in August 2010, with the acquisition of the GENe product from the Energy Control Systems (ECS) business unit of SNC-Lavalin. GE Energy was working for several years on merging its Enmac product (primarily used in EMEA and Asia/Pacific), with the PowerOn OMS product (launched by Smallworld in 1998). Following the ECS GENe product acquisition from SNC-Lavalin, GE Energy offers several solutions with combined OMS/DMS needs:
- PowerOn OMS, targeting global utilities where advanced GIS-based OMS is required
- PowerOn OMS integrated with the GENe DMS product, targeting North America, Latin America and other regions where advanced GIS-based OMS, with advanced DMS applications, is required
- PowerOn Fusion DMS with integrated OMS, targeting portions of EMEA and Asia/Pacific for utilities where DMS is required with base OMS capabilities
GE Energy's PowerOn has one of the largest installed bases of all rated vendors, and has been tested with large storm-proven, call-volume capacity (more than 100,000 trouble calls per hour proved in actual storm conditions). PowerOn runs on multiple operating systems and Oracle RDBMS. Current development activities include a strengthened focus on OMS/AMI integration for filtering, monitoring and managing meter status changes within the outage analysis and dispatcher workflow, support for dynamic phasing (reassigning individual phases during single-phase restoration steps) and interoperability with other GE product offerings.
- GE has placed a strong focus on testing system scalability for its largest customers to ensure performance for trouble calls and AMI event processing.
- GE's OMS supports model import from multiple GIS vendor environments, and can represent proposed or partially completed distribution design work within the operations model.
- GE Energy's strong utility engineering and asset management business knowledge has enabled it to position OMS within a wider operations suite and leverage advanced automation deployments within its customer environments.
- GE's multiple OMS/DMS offerings create product road map uncertainty that may negatively affect its customer technology strategy.
- Although GE Energy offers design, outage management and distribution management software, and is working on an improved integration framework, most customers still experience limited interoperability between products.
- Clients continue to express concern about the quality of the testing process, which results in a relatively large number of software defects in the released code. In addition, some users reported that product complexity overwhelms casual users.
Intergraph is a global provider of engineering and geospatial software that operates through two divisions — Security, Government & Infrastructure (SG&I) and Process, Power & Marine (PP&M). Intergraph has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Hexagon since October 2010. Hexagon is a publicly traded, global provider of precision measurement technology (metrology) systems. Around 17% of the total Intergraph SG&I revenue is attributed to the utility and communications sectors. Within those markets, Intergraph offers geospatial infrastructure management solutions (based on G/Technology) and operational support systems, such as the InService OMS product.
The InService software suite shares common architecture and components with the Intergraph Computer-Aided Dispatch (I/CAD) product, which is used for public safety and emergency response organizations, and the Intergraph Security Framework (I/Security Framework) product, which is used for transportation and border security.
- Intergraph continues to offer strong OMS functionality that leverages more-open architecture and middleware standards.
- Intergraph has responded to smart grid initiatives, and has repositioned InService to be the hub of an integrated smart grid control environment to improve situational awareness and to reduce operator error. InService version 8.3 also offers integration with Siemens Distribution Network Analysis (DNA) servers for advanced distribution management functions in a common user environment.
- InService OMS customers give Intergraph high marks for ease of use and intuitive UIs, and they report a high level of satisfaction with Intergraph's support and professional services organizations.
- Resources allocated to the utility and communications business can be affected by the overall performance of the SG&I business unit and its involvement in other industries.
- InService is still a significantly leveraged software offering, with Intergraph professional services included in new deployments and upgrades.
- Intergraph's alliance with Siemens for advanced DMS functionality will limit its attractiveness to non-Siemens DMS users, since more custom integration will be required.
Milsoft is a privately held software company focused on providing network planning and operational solutions for small-to-midsize distribution utilities, including the municipal and rural utility sectors. Milsoft has a customer base of more than 1,000 electric utilities, educational institutions and consultants in the U.S. and abroad. The Milsoft OMS product (formerly known as DisSPatch) is a complete OMS that provides for the quick and efficient management of outages on an electrical distribution system. It uses information obtained from customers, crews, and monitoring devices to locate and predict problem areas.
Milsoft's OMS is based on and integrated with a fully detailed circuit model that tracks connectivity, leveraging the same topology model from its engineering analysis suite WindMil. This also enables the use of operational network analysis tools to perform a variety of advanced "what-if" functions to minimize operational risk. Milsoft is an early adopter of MultiSpeak, and has passed interoperability tests for interfacing with multiple SCADA, automated meter reading (AMR), automatic vehicle location (AVL), Mobile Work Management and customer information system (CIS) vendors. DisSPatch runs on a Windows platform and Microsoft SQL database.
In 2012, Milsoft is releasing a completely rearchitected engineering and operation application suite, called Core E&O (Engineering and Operation). It's built on the common distribution network model, which is shared by a number of its planning and operation applications, including OMS. It is composed of the three servers (Circuit Model Server, Integration Server and Communication Server [formerly known as Milsoft IVR]) built on an ESB, with a project management component that enables users to create their own versions of the network model for engineering, operation and outage management needs.
Milsoft OMS is used by 178 utilities serving, cumulatively, more than 6 million customers. The largest implementation site is a utility serving nearly 200,000 customers. The same utility managed the largest number of DisSPatch-processed outage calls per hour (6,000) in production.
- Milsoft's sharp focus on U.S. cooperative and Tier 3 utility markets has resulted in the largest number of utility OMS installations in this segment. Milsoft OMS customers typically also use it in conjunction with the Milsoft transmission and distribution modeling and analysis application, WindMil.
- Milsoft is an industry leader in successfully implementing and promoting the MultiSpeak application integration standard, which was developed by and for its target market — rural electric cooperatives.
- Although it will take some time to migrate existing clients to the new Core Engineering and Operation (E&O) platform, the release of the Core E&O platform addresses some concerns regarding aging technology of the Milsoft legacy products (WindMil and DisSPatch).
- The scalability requirements of its current market segment (electric cooperatives, public power systems and Tier 3 utilities) are relatively modest. The largest number of calls per hour experienced is 6,000 — this is at least an order of magnitude lower than those of larger utilities with millions of customers. Those typically have storm-related call volumes greater than 50,000 calls per hour.
- Milsoft OMS does not support handling looped networks as well as modeling of the substation switchgear, which most of its competitors that are focused on larger utilities fully support.
- The size and the investment level needed to complete Core E&O are significant. Customers and prospects are advised to track Milsoft adherence to the committed product road map.
Oracle is a large enterprise software and IT technology company headquartered in Redwood Shores, California, with revenue exceeding $35.6 billion for FY11 (which ended 31 May 2011). Oracle entered the utility application market through the acquisitions of SPL WorldGroup and Lodestar in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and the subsequent formation of its Utilities Global Business Unit. Oracle Utilities offers a wide range of IT applications in the utility sector.
Oracle Utilities' OMS offering is based on the OMS product Centricity and the distribution management solution Netricity, which SPL WorldGroup obtained via its acquisition of CES International in 2004. In 2007, Oracle rebranded the product as Oracle Utilities Network Management System and added additional distribution network management capabilities. Responding to an increased market focus on smart grid investments triggered by the U.S. Department of Energy's Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program, Oracle Utilities continued extending the scope of the Oracle Utilities Network Management System. This positioned it as a centerpiece to achieve infrastructure-related benefits of smart grid investments. Consequently, the scope of the predominantly OMS-based Oracle Utilities Network Management System has been extended to include additional DMS functionality, such as fault location analysis and feeder load management.
Oracle Utilities Network Management System runs on Unix and Linux platforms (with Windows clients), and on Oracle 10g Database Enterprise Edition and higher databases. Currently, more than 30 utility companies, serving in aggregate more than 40 million customers, run an Oracle OMS in production. The largest installation site operating in one instance is 3.5 million, and the largest volume of outage calls processed per hour was 30,000 during an actual storm event handled by a North American utility company.
- In addition to a rich feature and functionality set, a significant installed base and proven performance, Oracle Utilities, as part of a leading enterprise application vendor, has managed to transform its delivery model from a leveraged custom product to a COTS solution. Following the Oracle acquisition, legacy CES OMS clients have consistently reported improvement in product development and delivery process, as well as improvement in quality of released software.
- Oracle has made a significant investment in attaining the market leadership position through participation in a number of internal and external events, trade organizations and standards-setting bodies. The findings obtained through those activities are reflected in the product road map.
- Oracle OMS leverages Oracle core technology (such as Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Spatial) as well as Oracle Utilities products (such as Oracle Business Intelligence for Utilities and Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service) to attain technology platform leadership, as well as gain additional functional and performance improvement.
- Oracle's implementation strategy includes greater use of external partners for product delivery and implementation. This has created issues with some clients, who have found access to Oracle's technical resources and good technical documentation to be challenging.
- Although contacted customers have reported overall improvement in product delivery, some clients still find the upgrade process to be complex and long, taking up to a year to complete.
- Although Oracle's current release only supports a modern Java-based UI, some clients contacted by Gartner have reported concerns with usability of the legacy Motif-based UI, which they find hard to keep casual users trained on.
Rating: Strong Positive
Telvent is a global IT solution and service provider, serving critical infrastructure markets, including energy, transportation, environment and agriculture. In 2011, Telvent was acquired by Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management. Although these companies are in the process of merging operations and integrating and harmonizing services and product offerings, Telvent will continue operation in 2012, with no significant organizational and product/service changes.
Telvent's Responder is a full-fledged OMS that includes prediction analysis for customer calls and AMI events, crew management, Web and mobile application technology, and AMI/MDM integration. At its core, Responder delivers an OMS designed to leverage a utility's investment in GIS via an integrated approach that supports the needs of system operators, dispatchers and managers.
In addition to Responder, Telvent offers ADMS, based on three distinct technologies: DMS, OMS and SCADA. ADMS and Responder are two different products that run on different platforms. In order to merge these technologies into a common UI, data model and platform, Telvent is migrating and developing OMS functionality (leveraging Responder experience) directly in the ADMS solution. Telvent plans to have the majority of OMS-specific functionality available in the ADMS platform by late 2012.
Telvent currently markets Responder to utilities that do not require DMS functionality. If Responder customers require DMS functionality, Telvent offers integration with DMS as well as a migration strategy to the ADMS platform, which, according to Telvent, will have embedded OMS functionality by the end of 2012.
Responder supports Windows and Unix platforms along with SQL Server and Oracle RDBMS. Telvent is used in production by 23 utility companies serving, cumulatively, more than 5 million customers. Telvent's largest OMS production site is Consumers Energy, with 1.8 million electric customers, which has experience processing 27,000 calls per hour.
- Telvent continues to experience growth in the OMS market (it signed five new contracts in the last 12 months, since the last OMS market update, mostly with small utilities), which will increase Responder's long-term viability.
- In addition to tight out-of-the-box integration with its design, engineering analysis, and mobile workforce and crew-scheduling applications, Telvent OMS includes integration with Telvent's DMS and OASyS SCADA products as well as vendor-neutral AMI integration frameworks.
- Responder is one of the few OMS solutions that can meet the needs of electric, gas and water utilities for emergency restoration functionality.
- Responder is hosted on Esri GIS, and depends on its native functionality for many common services. As such, the solution may be less attractive to clients that use other GIS platforms to manage spatial data. Telvent supports commercially available tools to load other GIS network connectivity data into the Esri GIS platform for OMS network model updates.
- Responder can run directly on the enterprise version of the ArcFM enterprise environment, or can be replicated to a dedicated Responder operations environment. Some customers have reported difficulties replicating data from Designer to a Responder operations environment. They also reported apparent Telvent lack of success in getting Esri attention to those defects.
- Several contacted customers have reported issues with the initial Responder implementation, which was mostly caused by excessive customization and Telvent's failure to accurately estimate required resources and duration. Some also reported issues with the software upgrade process. Both sets of concerns indicate some product delivery immaturity.
Trimble provides positioning and productivity solutions worldwide, combining GPS, laser, optical and inertial technologies, with application software, wireless communications and services. Trimble is a publicly traded, global, $1.64 billion company, serving many vertical industries. It acquired Let Systems in March 2010, along with its eRespond OMS. In 2011, Trimble acquired Tekla, a Finnish engineering software company that offers solutions for energy and water utilities' planning and operation, based on Tekla NIS (Network Information System) and Tekla DMS (Distribution Management System) products. Tekla's solutions are implemented by over 150 electric, water and district heating companies in seven central and northern European countries.
A key product differentiator for eRespond is its ability to deal with unique requirements for managing and reporting outages and incidents in water delivery and wastewater collection operations (initially developed for the U.K. water utility United Utilities). Four other customers use eRespond for electric utility outage management; the largest is Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) Thailand, with 16 million meters modeled. Trimble also offers UtilityCenter Software Suite for electric cooperatives as well as small and midsize municipal utilities. The suite includes a uaDispatch OMS module for managing calls and outages. Trimble OMS solutions are used by more than 100 companies (five eRespond, 40 UtilityCenter OMS and 57 Tekla DMS).
- Trimble eRespond has addressed a niche market for water and wastewater utilities, with a comprehensive set of features designed to simplify the end-to-end process of fault management in water distribution and wastewater collection networks. Clients in the water sector find them to be client-focused and knowledgeable.
- eRespond has a modern and scalable architecture that is designed around Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) from the ground up.
- eRespond supports open middleware standards — including CIM and ESB for Tibco Software, SeeBeyond (now owned by Oracle-Sun Microsystems) and webMethods (now owned by Software AG) — and has achieved "Powered by SAP NetWeaver" and IBM SAFE utility reference architecture certification.
- Offering several products with overlapping functionality (eRespond, uaDispatch and Tekla DMS), although focused on different regions or market segments, still creates a confusing market message. Trimble should rationalize its product portfolio and better articulate its product strategy.
- Although the Tekla acquisition addresses some of the DMS functionality, such as FLISR (a number of standard ADMS functions are still missing), eRespond customers and prospects cannot leverage it as the preintegrated eRespond/Tekla solution is not offered yet.
- eRespond still does not have an implementation in the Americas, which limits its regional market understanding. However, it can now leverage the Trimble UtilityCenter uaDispatch installed base to gain insight into the North American OMS market. Following the conclusion of the data-gathering process for this MarketScope in April 2012, Trimble announced a contract award from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for a water outage management system, its first Tier 1 North American utility client.
Ventyx, an ABB company, continues to leverage parent company mind share in the utility industry as a publicly held $31 billion conglomerate, with a broad understanding of network and OT system design. The company offers EMS, GMS, SCADA and DMS products. In 2010, the acquired company Ventyx was given authority to align all software processes for these products with Ventyx's own offerings in the utility IT sector. ABB Network Manager is now marketed as Ventyx Network Manager. ABB also acquired Obvient Strategies, a business intelligence solution, and has integrated it into the Network Manager offering.
Network Manager DMS integrates a number of applications (such as simulation, short-circuit fault location, automatic restoration switching plan generation, balanced/unbalanced load flow and automatic schematic generation), providing an appealing offering to utilities in North America and EMEA alike. In addition, Network Manager DMS complements Network Manager SCADA/EMS, which can provide utilities with a more integrated environment for managing transmission and distribution systems. Ventyx's OMS product is among the most mature and functionally complete products in this category, with a number of large, Tier 1 utility customers that have managed major outage events (for example, PG&E, which peaked at 115,000 calls per hour). Ventyx Network Manager DMS is offered on Unix, Linux and Windows operating systems and Oracle RDBMS. Ventyx has 29 utility customers, with OMS in production for more than 30 million metered customers.
- Network Manager OMS and DMS complement Network Manager SCADA/EMS, giving utilities a single-vendor integrated environment for managing transmission and distribution systems.
- The product's architecture enables a single distribution network model for OMS and DMS, as well as a unified UI.
- Ventyx uses a partnership approach to address market needs, such as embedding third-party technology into its solution, fostering vendor alliances that focus on AMI or distribution automation integration, and participating in standards efforts.
- Ventyx (ABB) OMS was traditionally delivered through custom implementations, but is now delivered as a configurable COTS. A step forward in application delivery maturity is positive, but could potentially require some additional work for legacy clients planning to move toward the common Network Manager code base.
- Ventyx does not have a certified implementation partner program, and so far, it has worked with only one implementation partner.
- While Ventyx has leveraged standards significantly in model management and various points of integration between its products, the company offers limited support for customers seeking packaged interfaces within an SOA framework.
Rating: Strong Positive
We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor appearing in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. This may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by a vendor.
Gartner's MarketScope provides specific guidance for users who are deploying, or have deployed, products or services. A Gartner MarketScope rating does not imply that the vendor meets all, few or none of the evaluation criteria. The Gartner MarketScope evaluation is based on a weighted evaluation of a vendor's products in comparison with the evaluation criteria. Consider Gartner's criteria as they apply to your specific requirements. Contact Gartner to discuss how this evaluation may affect your specific needs.
In the below table, the various ratings are defined:
MarketScope Rating Framework
Is viewed as a provider of strategic products, services or solutions:
- Customers: Continue with planned investments.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor a strong choice for strategic investments.
Demonstrates strength in specific areas, but execution in one or more areas may still be developing or inconsistent with other areas of performance:
- Customers: Continue planned investments.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor a viable choice for strategic or tactical investments, while planning for known limitations.
Shows potential in specific areas; however, execution is inconsistent:
- Customers: Consider the short- and long-term impact of possible changes in status.
- Potential customers: Plan for and be aware of issues and opportunities related to the evolution and maturity of this vendor.
Faces challenges in one or more areas:
- Customers: Understand challenges in relevant areas, and develop contingency plans based on risk tolerance and possible business impact.
- Potential customers: Account for the vendor's challenges as part of due diligence.
Has difficulty responding to problems in multiple areas:
- Customers: Execute risk mitigation plans and contingency options.
- Potential customers: Consider this vendor only for tactical investment with short-term, rapid payback.