MarketScope for Outage Management Systems

24 May 2013 ID:G00248928
Analyst(s): Zarko Sumic, Randy Rhodes

VIEW SUMMARY

Because utility outage management system solutions are being subsumed into advanced distribution management system solutions, we are providing the final update of OMS vendor positioning in the energy and utilities market.

What You Need to Know

Extreme weather events and aging distribution network infrastructures are straining the capabilities of utility companies to maintain mandated customer service levels. Traditionally, utilities depended on trouble call management systems (TCMSs) and their successors, outage management systems (OMSs), to support emergency responses and ensure prompt customer service during restoration. Legacy TCMS solutions focused primarily on customer service aspects of the emergency restoration process. OMSs contribute by improving labor efficiency during crew dispatching and by maintaining revenue through faster service restoration. Regulators respond favorably on OMS cost recovery due to its direct role supporting the mandate of utilities to provide ubiquitous, reliable and economically priced energy.

Since 2007, Gartner has assessed the OMS market to help our clients that are seeking solutions to improve their emergency network restoration processes. Initially, we used the Gartner Magic Quadrant as the appropriate vendor position framework as multiple commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) OMS product offerings developed. In 2011, we switched to a different framework — the Gartner MarketScope. We selected this framework not only to capture changes in customer buying behavior, but, more importantly, to indicate that the OMS market is diminishing as a stand-alone software category. We see a continuing trend among utility buyers to seek an integrated solution incorporating emergency restoration processes into an emerging utility software product — advanced distribution management systems (ADMSs). These products tend to consolidate normal operation distribution management and storm-related emergency restoration management activities into a single software solution. As a result, this is the last year we are formally evaluating vendor positioning for OMSs as a stand-alone utility IT application market. Going forward, OMS functionalities will be evaluated within the ADMS vendor evaluation process.

The utility industry is increasingly focused on the development of the future energy delivery infrastructure — the smart grid. Among other benefits, a smarter grid will improve network resilience via advanced control functions, supporting network self-healing and event avoidance. This focus has fueled buyer interest in solutions that can extend and enhance the OMS environment with smart grid technology. Therefore, 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, such as fault location, isolation and service restoration (FLISR), 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. Consequently, as we predicted in 2005, the narrowly defined conventional OMS software product category will diminish.

Utilities will still require high-performance software that automates emergency restoration functions — in particular, utilities impacted by extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy on the U.S. Eastern seaboard in October 2012. However, OMS functionality is increasingly being integrated into ADMS products. For a detailed definition of the ADMS software market and how it relates to OMS, as well as vendor positioning, see "Market Definition: Advanced Distribution Management System Products" and "MarketScope for Advanced Distribution Management Systems."

MarketScope

OMSs originally emerged from North American electric utility markets, where predominantly overhead distribution network design makes electrical service more susceptible to extreme weather conditions (hurricanes and ice storms). 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. The key drivers were customer demands for improved service quality and the need to provide an auditable network performance history to regulators. Later development of OMS functionality included support for the more complex, looped distribution networks used in urban areas with greater population densities. This helped OMS adoption among utilities in EMEA and Asia/Pacific, where networks tend to be operated in looped structures.

Software used in EMEA and Asia/Pacific to automate distribution network management functions was historically referred to as distribution management systems (DMSs). These 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/VAr control), and some real-time monitoring and control — if distribution supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) coverage is available.

Successful OMS implementation requires 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.

Some OMS providers evolved their products from a GIS platform. These include GE Energy, Intergraph and Schneider Electric (formerly Telvent/Miner & Miner). Utilities are attuned to managing distribution network asset data models with GIS tools. Likewise, vendors with GIS expertise are usually better prepared to address requirements for extensive incremental updates to network connectivity models (also known as network model promotion requirements). They are leveraging their core capabilities to manage and update the network data model, as well as leveraging their GIS rendering engines for geographically referenced OMS UIs.

OMS products currently offered on the market support a number of standard 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 major storms, which is also when they are expected to provide the most value to users. Consequently, OMSs must be highly available systems that perform well during major events and can scale under the most extreme conditions. In addition to processing a high volume of calls, modern OMSs support remote-failover capabilities for disaster recovery. They are usually deployed in two separate control centers for business continuity. System performance during extreme conditions was widely tested during the 2012 storm season in North America, and in particular as utilities managed the impact of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. A number of Northeast utilities expressed general satisfaction with the performance of their OMSs under these extreme conditions, confirming the maturity of OMS products. One utility successfully deployed a critical software patch as Hurricane Sandy was under way.

Furthermore, we see several emerging trends in the OMS market resulting from new regulatory requirements and increased investment in smart grid technologies (in particular AMI) that provide additional insight into the status of network assets:

  • 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 an "outage management subsystem" as a component of their DMS solutions (such as Schneider Electric, Efacec ACS or Alstom Grid) or partnering with niche OMS vendors (such as Siemens partnering with Intergraph) to provide a more comprehensive solution until they develop native OMS functionality in their ADMSs.
  • As AMI implementation expands in North America, North American utilities are now considering how to leverage demand interval data for enhancing distribution network analysis. 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 via meter data management (MDM) systems. Those include Ventyx, Efacec ACS, GE Energy, Oracle Utilities, Schneider and Siemens. Some utilities are supplementing AMI and MDM systems with historian software. The historian functions as an operational data management system that organizes and presents meter interval data effectively for operations use.
  • 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 product offerings. 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, 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, there are several new capabilities that AMI provides to DMS and OMS applications. AMI can provide information that is useful for detecting outages, inferring their locations 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.

OMSs, as one of the customer-facing utility applications, are also affected by the Nexus of Forces (social, mobile, cloud and information) that creates customer expectations regarding keeping them better informed of the service restoration status (see "Social Media Provides Utilities a New Channel for Customer Engagement" and "Use Multichannel Power Outage Communications to Improve Utility Customer Satisfaction"). Utilities that tap into social media and the context-creating capability of newer consumer mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets) can get additional insight into the location and extent of network damages. Utilities can supplement their own damage assessments through a crowdsourcing function, since customers can easily provide useful information. Several examples indicate emerging requirements driven and enabled by the Nexus of Forces:

  • Social media now makes it possible for consumers to engage in dialogues concerning power outages and their personal experiences and frustrations in media channels that are beyond direct utility control. Social media introduces new channels into crisis-related communications, and ushers in a new era of consumer engagement and empowerment. Social media activity related to Hurricane Sandy is a case in point. News outlets turned to utility outage portals for updates on the number of customers experiencing outages and restoration progress, while citizen photographs of destruction and devastation poured onto photo-sharing and online news sites. Disgruntled customers posted complaints wherever possible, including their own Facebook pages, utility websites, Twitter, and blogs.
  • Several utility early adopters of social media — especially those employing blogs, Twitter and Facebook — have unwittingly opened up a very public forum for disgruntled customers. We have seen a number of instances where a well-intentioned blog post or tweet informing customers of an outage has spawned hostile comments, complaints and criticism, creating a public relations firestorm in the midst of a crisis that effectively added fuel to the fire. Unfortunately, these comments become part of a permanent public social media record, indexed by search engines and accessible to regulators, other customers, attorneys general and parties with a direct bearing on public perception and possible legal proceedings, fines, sanctions and penalties. This raises the importance of social media monitoring technology and communications strategies in providing rapid response and maintaining good reputation as a precondition for maintaining favorable positions with utility regulators.
  • There are also opportunities to leverage new communication channels by using contextual information, such as geotagged photos from mobile devices to improve situational awareness, especially when natural disasters cause large-scale outages. Utilities can mine social media activity to crowdsource outage information and help direct restoration team deployment. For instance, providing customers with the ability to send geotagged photos of downed power lines, or proactively "mine" community sites and customer-posted tweets with relevant network-related damage information, could help inform system operators and help with more-effective fieldworker deployment.

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 mature ADMS applications emerges. Some of the legacy solutions provide only 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 require a high level of integration with other systems on the IT side (such as customer information systems [CISs]) or operational technology (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.

Market/Market Segment Description

The Gartner Magic Quadrant and MarketScope vendor positioning concept is based on a customer-oriented market analysis. 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 COTS software solutions, as well as related hardware, integration and support services, to improve responsiveness and communications (to the workforce, customers and media) during emergency service restoration activities. 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 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 a "virtual callback" function
  • Methods to systematically manage and maintain real-time network model changes, safety tagging and clearance processes
  • 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

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To be included in this category, software products must cater to the majority of the utility outage management functional requirements we have described.

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 eight 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.

CGI was dropped from this year's OMS MarketScope because it did not meet the $1 million license revenue threshold for new OMS product sales.

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 and 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 SunNet 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).

Rating for Overall Market/Market Segment

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 grew significantly. ADMS is now passing from the Peak of Inflated Expectations into the Trough of Disillusionment in "Hype Cycle for Smart Grid Technologies, 2012."

The Caution rating was not selected due to any lack of OMS product functionality or immaturity of the solutions. 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 buyers 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 more mature breed of ADMS with full-fledged OMS functionality 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 (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 customer and vendor development funds. In addition, the Tier 2 and Tier 3 utilities markets are much less saturated. The eight OMS vendors that are rated in this MarketScope have reported, cumulatively, 23 new OMS contract awards during the 12 months following the 2012 "MarketScope for Outage Management Systems."

The emergence of the ADMS market is affecting how OMS functionality is procured. Global market demands for OMS are currently being expressed in at least four ways:

  • Smaller utilities with distribution SCADA, long radial distribution feeders and minimal crew dispatch requirements tend to purchase OMS-only contracts; this is characteristic of the U.S. rural electric cooperative market.
  • Latin American utilities where DMS is not as prevalent tend to purchase OMSs with a crew management focus and distribution switching enhancements.
  • EMEA and Asia/Pacific utilities with stronger network designs and historically modest weather impacts are purchasing OMSs to supplement their existing DMSs.
  • North American utilities are implementing fully integrated ADMS, including OMS and distribution optimization applications.

As the market evolves, fully deployed ADMS products that include OMS may appear as separate applications serving separate groups of users. Distribution operators and crew dispatchers may be using separate modules of the same product suite (against the same network model) when an ADMS product is fully deployed.

Evaluation Criteria

Table 1. Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Comment

Weighting

Market Understanding

Ability of the OMS solution provider to understand buyers' needs and translate these needs into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those wants with their added vision.

Standard

Offering (Product) Strategy

An OMS vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology, and feature set as they map to current and future requirements.

High

Vertical/Industry Strategy

The OMS provider's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including verticals.

Low

Product/Service

Core goods and services offered by the OMS vendor that compete in/serve the OMS market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets and skills, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

High

Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization)

Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.

Standard

Market Responsiveness and Track Record

Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.

Standard

Customer Experience

Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), the availability of user groups, SLAs and so on.

High

Source: Gartner (May 2013)

Figure 1. MarketScope for Outage Management Systems
Figure 1.MarketScope for Outage Management Systems

Source: Gartner (May 2013)

Vendor Product/Service Analysis

Efacec ACS

Efacec Advanced Control Systems (ACS) is owned by Efacec, a 4,500-employee Portuguese equipment and automation company that is privately held by two investment groups. Efacec ACS offers Prism Real-Time OMS, 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 calculation of reliability indexes. Recent product enhancements include better support for decentralized operations; more advanced algorithms, templates and macros for switch planning; and disconnected modes for field mobile applications. Prism OMS runs on Windows and Linux (Oracle 10g/11g).

Efacec ACS has not demonstrated significant upward market movement since the last MarketScope. Customer references were municipalities with less than 50,000 metered customers. The largest installation remains 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 one utility's AMI system). The company reported four OMS sales during the past year, totaling 610,000 metered customers supported.

Small-to-midsize utilities that have moderate outage management requirements will find the Efacec ACS consolidated, real-time automation platform offering attractive. Efacec ACS is extending its platform with Web and mobile capabilities; however, its market success remains limited. Gartner assigns a caution rating based on our assessment of Efacec ACS's overall market track record and its lack of notable customer references.

Strengths:

  • 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 and minimizes data maintenance activities.
  • The browser-based client (GridVu) supports 2D and 3D views of network and outage details, and enables displays for users outside the control center.
  • The OMS includes call management features via a call-taking screen that can be deployed to customer service representatives. Close integration with IVR products is supported for customer callbacks and automated crew call-out.

Cautions:

  • 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.
  • Efacec ACS does not list any vendor or system integration partners; thus, customers depend on Efacec ACS's resources for product implementation and customization.

Rating: Caution

GE Energy

GE Energy is a $45 billion worldwide supplier of power generation and energy delivery technologies. GE OMS solutions (PowerOn Fusion and PowerOn Restore) are provided through GE Digital Energy, which was formed in 2010 to encompass GE's smart grid solution offering. GE Digital Energy software products span EMS, DMS, OMS, GIS, MWM and DRMS.

In January 2013, GE announced a new product strategy directed at the distribution network operation domain. Five products are offered as a PowerOn-branded suite:

  • PowerOn Reliance, an EMS solution previously named XA/21.
  • PowerOn Fusion, a single ADMS with combined DMS and OMS.
  • PowerOn Control, previously named GENe, a DMS focused on situational awareness and network status to optimize distribution networks.
  • PowerOn Restore, previously named PowerOn OMS, which provides outage management tools.
  • PowerOn Precision, previously named DR1000, a single system of record for all demand management programs.

GE Energy's PowerOn Restore (the original stand-alone OMS offering) has one of the largest installed bases of all rated vendors, with 40 utilities that serve more than 50 million customers. In 2012, GE reported two new OMS contracts with companies serving 10 million customers cumulatively. According to GE, the product has been tested and proven under severe storm conditions. Large GE customers have processed more than 100,000 trouble calls per hour in actual storm conditions.

PowerOn Restore is a mature and functionally rich system that supports all traditional outage processing requirements. Some newer requirements, such as social media integration, are not supported; however, this functionality can be achieved by integration with the GE Smart Grid analytics offering, Grid IQ.

GE is continuing its development 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. Although PowerOn Restore was originally developed on top of its native GIS platform, Smallworld, GE has made significant improvement in deriving a network connectivity model from other major GISs, in particular with CIM-based incremental data imports for modeling partially completed construction work orders. GE has reported PowerOn Restore runs on multiple operating systems and the Oracle relational database management system (RDBMS).

Utilities already using GE products for distribution asset management (GIS-based applications) and operation (DMS/SCADA) will consider GE a provider of choice. However, GE OMS products may also be attractive for large utilities looking for an integrated ADMS solution and want their OMSs as a part of a broader utility network management suite.

Strengths:

  • GE has placed a strong focus on testing system scalability for trouble calls and meter events. Usability for decentralized dispatch operations and damage assessment during severe storm conditions has been improved.
  • GE has better aligned its development activities with guidelines established by standards working groups, and is offering wider support for CIM-based integration within its product suite and with other applications.
  • GE's strong utility engineering and asset management business knowledge (demonstrated with 25 granted or pending patents in the DMS/OMS area) enables it to position OMS within a wider operations suite, and leverage advanced automation deployments within its customer environments.

Cautions:

  • The company has taken significant technical, organizational and marketing steps toward offering an integrated suite of products that address the needs of distribution network operators. Some potential buyers may, however, still be confused until product strategy and market messaging are fully aligned.
  • GE offers design, outage management and distribution management software, and is working on an improved integration framework; however, most customers still experience limited interoperability between products.
  • Although PowerOn clients operating the legacy solution (now called PowerOn Restore) have reported relatively smooth upgrade processes, clients that have upgraded to PowerOn Fusion (an integrated DMS/OMS environment) have reported significant implementation complexity and long project durations.

Rating: Strong Positive

Intergraph

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. Approximately 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 its G/Technology product) 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. In addition to OMS, InService includes MWM and crew resource and scheduling capabilities. The InService AMI module integrates with meter data management systems (MDMSs) through CIM-compliant interfaces and is in production. Dispatchers can also manually ping meters or groups of meters through the CIM-compliant module. The InService suite is Windows-based and runs on Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server database systems.

InService is in production at 39 utilities, with over 34 million metered customers served. Intergraph reports six new contracts during the past year, representing 8.9 million customers served. Oncor remains Intergraph's largest customer, with over 3 million end customers.

Intergraph is upgrading InService with a redesigned user interface in its 9.2 release in 2013. The company is improving usability workflows for workstation and Web clients. Intergraph is also upgrading its thin-client I/NetDispatcher. This product handles planned and unplanned outage work and service work. The tool can be used for field user reconciliation of outage durations, cause codes, customer counts, etc., following storms, and will be supported across all Web browsers.

Project-based development at CPFL Energia (Brazil) is yielding a lightweight smartphone and tablet application that will be aligned with the Intergraph Mobile Map Works product, and made generally available as InService product later in 2013 or in 2014. The application supports mobile requirements for navigation aids, workforce safety, and integrated switch plan execution (both ad hoc and planned switching). Also being implemented by the CPFL project is Intergraph's Mobile Workforce Management product that integrates with IFS 360's Scheduling engine to provide improved dynamic scheduling.

Utilities that have extensive mobile workforce management requirements will find Intergraph's in-depth field operations support attractive. Utilities needing to add stronger OMS and field capabilities to distribution SCADA-oriented ADMS solutions can leverage InService capabilities.

Strengths:

  • Intergraph offers mature OMS functionality on a Windows-centric platform with strong emphasis on standards-based integration.
  • Intergraph responded to smart grid initiatives by integrating InService 8.3.1 with Siemens Distribution Network Analysis servers. These interfaces have been generalized with CIM-based messaging, enabling utilities to add InService to existing ADMS deployments.
  • InService OMS customers give Intergraph high marks for industry understanding, ease of use and intuitive user interfaces. They report a generally high level of satisfaction with Intergraph's support and professional services organizations.

Cautions:

  • Aspects of the product user interface appear dated by current standards, although this is being addressed in the next release.
  • While InService versions are released through a software product center approach, the product is still a significantly services-leveraged solution. Professional services from Intergraph or system integrators are required for new deployments and upgrades.
  • Some references report upgrade project delays due to software bugs and required patches.

Rating: Positive

Milsoft Utility Solutions

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. Milsoft OMS (formerly known as DisSPatch) is a functionally 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 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, AMR, automatic vehicle location (AVL), mobile work management (MWM) and CIS vendors. Milsoft OMS runs on a Windows platform and Microsoft SQL database.

In 2012, Milsoft released a completely rearchitected engineering and operation application suite, Core E&O (engineering and operation). A common distribution network model serves a number of planning and operation applications, including OMS. E&O is composed of three servers (Circuit Model Server, Integration Server and Communication Server [formerly known as Milsoft IVR]) built on an ESB. A project management component enables users to create their own versions of the network model for engineering, operation and outage management needs, or to share network models with external third-party applications.

Milsoft OMS is used by 188 utilities serving, cumulatively, almost 7 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. In the 12 months following the latest OMS vendor positioning, Milsoft signed six new contracts with companies serving more than 200,000 customers.

Strengths:

  • Milsoft's sharp focus on U.S. cooperative and municipal 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 WindMil.
  • Milsoft is an industry leader in successfully implementing and promoting the MultiSpeak application integration standard, which was developed by and for one of its key markets — rural electric cooperatives.
  • Although it will take some time to migrate existing clients to the new Core E&O platform, the release of the platform addresses the main concerns some customers had regarding the technical viability of the Milsoft legacy products (WindMil and DisSPatch).

Cautions:

  • The scalability requirements of its current market segment (electric cooperatives and public power systems) 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.
  • Milsoft OMS does not support handling looped networks, as well as modeling of substation switchgear, which most of its competitors fully support.
  • Some users contacted by Gartner that are still on the Milsoft legacy product have rated product architecture and performance low.

Rating: Promising

Oracle Utilities

Oracle is an enterprise software and IT technology company headquartered in Redwood Shores, California, with revenue exceeding $37.1 billion for FY12 (ended 31 May 2012). 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 functionality is offered in Oracle Utilities Network Management System (NMS), which is based on the OMS product, Centricity, and energy delivery management solution, Netricity, which SPL obtained via acquisition of CES International in 2004. After that acquisition, SPL WorldGroup initially focused on marketing and developing the OMS functionality. In 2007, Oracle rebranded the product as Oracle Utilities NMS, and turned its attention on extending product functionality to include integrated distribution network management capabilities, such as FLISR and volt/VAr.

Oracle NMS offers integration to SCADA/distribution automation (DA) platforms and AMI systems using standards-based solutions (ICCP, MultiSpeak 4.1 and CIM). In 2011, Oracle rolled out NMS 1.11, with a new Java-based spatial GUI and distributed grid management product that complements NMS, addressing needs for local microgrid optimization as well as integration with centrally managed NMS.

Oracle Utilities has a significant presence in the utility IT space, allowing it to leverage functionality from its adjacent product offerings, including MDM for AMI integration, Oracle Business Intelligence for Utilities for analytical needs, and a consumer self-service portal for outage reporting and tracking.

Oracle Utilities NMS runs on multiple flavors of Unix (on the server side) and Windows (on the client side, as well as Linux [server and client]), and on Oracle (SE and EE) 10g Database and higher. Currently, utilities that use Oracle NMS for storm restoration activities serve in aggregate more than 40 million customers. 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.

Strengths:

  • In addition to a rich feature and functionality set, and a significant installed base, 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. Oracle Utilities legacy CES OMS clients have consistently reported improvement in product development and delivery process, as well as improvement in the quality of released software.
  • Oracle continues a significant investment in maintaining its 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 Utilities OMS users have reported satisfaction with product performance under extreme storm conditions created by Hurricane Sandy, proving product operational capability in production.

Cautions:

  • Following the switch to a COTS delivery model, Oracle's implementation strategy includes greater use of external partners for OMS implementation (although with no formal certification program). The use of external resources has initially created issues with some clients, which still find access to Oracle's technical resources (complementing external partners) to be challenging.
  • Some users contacted during this research have reported concern with training and documentation quality.
  • Although Oracle's users report satisfaction with the quality of technical resources and responsiveness, they find the company not easy to work with from a commercial standpoint.

Rating: Strong Positive

Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is a global supplier of energy management solutions to energy providers and consumers, with revenue approaching €24 billion in 2012, and greater than 140,000 employees. In 2011, Schneider Electric acquired Telvent, a provider of IT solutions and business information services in energy and other critical infrastructure markets, including transportation, environment and agriculture. Use of the Telvent brand name was discontinued at year-end 2012.

Schneider Electric entered the OMS market through the acquisition of Telvent, and currently offers two OMS solutions:

  • Responder (which Telvent obtained in 2004 through its acquisition of Miner & Miner) for utilities that do not require DMS functionality. Those companies tend to be midtier and smaller utility companies.
  • For utilities looking for integrated OMS and DMS functionality, Schneider offers Advanced Distribution Management System, which Telvent obtained through a joint venture with DMS Group (of Novi Sad, Serbia).

In 2012, Schneider developed full OMS functionality in its DMS product, leveraging Responder design, and offers it in its current ADMS solution. As of 1Q13, there were no companies using the OMS functionality of Schneider ADMS in production; thus, the company position in the OMS market was determined based on the Responder product ratings.

Responder delivers an OMS leveraging a utility's investment in GIS data. It can operate in a multiuser environment, including configurable areas of responsibility. It is based on a Microsoft technology stack (.NET architecture and Windows) and provides a more familiar Windows and Web user experience to operators, dispatchers and managers. The crew management engine facilitates the assignment and management of crews for planned and unplanned work. The recent development focus is on improving switch order management to allow for more flexibility in managing multiple switch orders simultaneously, more alerting/messaging related to device status changes and other events, and expanded reporting (including switch order groups).

Responder supports Windows and Unix platforms along with SQL Server and Oracle RDBMS. The product is used in production by 25 utility companies serving, cumulatively, almost 6 million customers. Schneider's largest OMS production site is Consumers Energy in Michigan, with 1.8 million electric customers, which has experience processing 40,000 calls per hour.

Strengths:

  • Schneider continues to experience growth with Responder in the OMS market (it signed six new contracts since the last OMS market update, mostly with small utilities), which will increase Responder's long-term viability. Adding full-fledged OMS functionality to its ADMS product now allows Schneider to offer a two-flavor solution — one to larger utilities that are predominantly looking for an integrated ADMS, and one to smaller utilities that value a GIS-hosted OMS solution.
  • In addition to tight out-of-the-box integration with its design, engineering analysis, and mobile workforce and crew-scheduling applications, Responder OMS includes a vendor-neutral AMI integration framework.
  • Responder is one of the few OMS solutions that can meet the needs of electric, gas and water utilities for emergency restoration functionality.

Cautions:

  • 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. Schneider Electric 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 environment, or can be replicated to a dedicated Responder operations environment. Some customers have reported difficulties replicating data from the Designer field design product to a Responder operations environment.
  • Although Schneider has reported porting Responder functionality to its ADMS product, no current Schneider ADMS customers have it in production yet. Potential buyers need to anticipate the usual issues that arise while implementing early versions of a product, although Schneider ADMS design is based on the proven functionality of its Responder OMS.

Rating: Positive

Trimble

Trimble provides positioning and productivity solutions worldwide. It combines GPS, laser, optical and inertial technologies with application software, wireless communications and services. Trimble is a publicly traded, global, $2.0 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 operations, based on Tekla NIS (network information system) and Tekla DMS (distribution management system) products. The Tekla solutions are implemented by 164 electric, water and district heating companies in seven central and northern European countries. The largest Tekla NIS customer is Vattenfall Europe Berlin, with 2.3 million network customers.

A key product differentiator for eRespond is its ability to deal with the 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 the uaDispatch OMS module for managing calls and outages.

Trimble OMS solutions are used by almost 100 companies (six eRespond, 33 UtilityCenter OMS and 57 Tekla DMS). Trimble is leveraging Esri GIS software within its products for a new spatial user interface for eRespond, and co-markets with Esri into the water market.

Trimble signed no new contracts during the past 12 months for the Trimble UtilityCenter uaDispatch OMS product. It signed one new contract for the eRespond product, with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, for a water outage management system. That was its first Tier 1 North American utility client, with 1.6 million customers.

Strengths:

  • 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 Trimble to be client-focused and knowledgeable.
  • Trimble's eRespond has a modern and scalable architecture that is designed around Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) from the ground up.
  • The product supports open middleware standards and has achieved "Powered by SAP NetWeaver" and IBM SAFE utility reference architecture certification.

Cautions:

  • 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.
  • The Tekla acquisition addresses some DMS functionality, such as FLISR (a number of standard ADMS functions are still missing, although network planning and asset management is included). Customers and prospects cannot leverage DMS functionality, because the preintegrated eRespond/Tekla solution is not offered yet.
  • Trimble eRespond has only one implementation under way 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.

Rating: Promising

Ventyx

Ventyx, an ABB company, continues to leverage its parent company's mind share in the utility industry. ABB is a publicly held $40 billion conglomerate, with a broad understanding of network and OT system design. After acquiring Ventyx in 2010, ABB aligned all software processes for existing ABB products (EMS, GMS, SCADA and DMS) together with Ventyx's utility sector offerings (including MWM).

Outage management capabilities are bundled within Ventyx's Network Manager DMS, utilizing a single distribution network model for SCADA, DMS and OMS. Network Manager 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). Recent wins on the ADMS side enhance what was already a significant OMS track record, with 29 OMS implementations in production serving a total of 32 million metered end customers. Ventyx reported five new customers in the past year supporting 6.5 million customers. Ventyx's OMS 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. PG&E is the largest installation, with 5.1 million customers. Exelon (ComEd) reports production outage call processing volume of 65,000 calls per hour.

This year, Ventyx is upgrading the Network Manager user experience, beginning with outage management. Ventyx is also integrating new analytic capabilities from its FocalPoint BI platform (from the acquired Obvient product), moving toward enhanced predictive modeling of storm impacts. Ventyx is also developing improved workflow for the interface between Network Manager and Ventyx's Service Suite MWM product. Ventyx Network Manager DMS is offered on Unix, Linux and Windows operating systems and Oracle RDBMS.

Ventyx has experienced transitional challenges while being integrated with ABB. Significant recent changes include a new CEO (Jeff Ray, formerly of Dassault Systemes), other new officers and expanded staffing for Network Manager development. The company is intent on software quality improvement as it revamps internal software development processes and moves toward quarterly software releases. As Ventyx hosts its first global user conference in June 2013, utilities familiar with ABB's industry depth are watching to see whether Ventyx can commercialize high-quality software delivery more successfully than its competitors.

Strengths:

  • 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 user experience.
  • Ventyx appears to be integrating the acquired FocalPoint BI product well across its product lines, and positioning it for expanded functionality.

Cautions:

  • Many of Ventyx's largest customers still face significant upgrades from older versions; however, Ventyx is taking significant steps forward in application delivery maturity, and OMS customer references are becoming more positive regarding software quality.
  • System integrator support for Network Manager is very limited. Ventyx does not have a certified implementation partner program.
  • While Ventyx has leveraged standards significantly in model management and various points of integration between its products, the company has not productized CIM-based adapters for integration with non-Ventyx products.

Rating: Positive

Vendors Added or Dropped

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 MarketScope Defined

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

Strong Positive
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.

Positive
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.

Promising
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.

Caution
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.

Strong Negative
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.