Over the next 5 years DCC will be embarking on a journey of change, enhancing the capabilities of a network that will deliver 30 million connected homes and over 56 million end points on a secure platform delivering 100's of millions of messages every day. The DCC makes Britain’s energy system smarter. Ensuring the capabilities and performance of our system remains fit for purpose is essential to support the country's net zero journey.
Digital transformation is in our DNA. After all, we’ve spent the last 10 years building the smart meter message platform.
The systems that enable smart metering were designed over many years ago, and were based on the best available architecture direction at that time. The core platform has supported enhancements such as the migration of first generation meters, our Central Switching Service and other programmes enabling change in the energy system. But change is needed to ensure the infrastructure that underpins Britain’s smart meter system remains secure, scalable, value for money and flexible. Only by improving our core systems will we enable a smarter, more connected future.
Our digital transformation approach is based on a deep understanding our core systems, processes and the business requirements that our customers require from the DCC. We operate under a license that clearly defines the system requirement – “our what”. But, our “how” is a somewhat more iterative process.
It’s not about a shift to cloud, adoption of agile or dev ops. It’s about using the deep understanding of our systems, our license and our customer demands.
We’ll deliver change through our structured approach to system and service integration (SSI), and look to use mature technologies, and software development tool sets to deliver an enduring DCC platform. As part of this we’ll consider cloud based infrastructure (compute and storage, modern development tools - secops, devops, aiops) that are mature, proven to work at scale and meet customer needs.
Our challenge in DCC is the number and age of the meters and comms hubs that we will have to support. By 2025 we will be close to 30 million homes with meters that may be at the start of their 15 year life or towards the end of their 15 year life.
That’s a support window of 30 years plus – far beyond what you might imagine providers of software have to manage.
And unlike, for example, a Windows Operating System, we can’t just decide to remove support as this could effect the supply of energy to consumers.
Within the CTO team we are looking at how we can support legacy capabilities from the past 15 years whilst designing a digitised energy system for the next 15 years while. This will involve reviewing current standards, technology enhancements, digital tools, scalable or elastic infrastructure solutionsn and using off the shelf tools or capabilities.
Our digital transformation programme will take place over the next 5 years. Our goal is to deliver an enduring technology platform that has elasticity (ability to scale up and down based on demand), has near zero downtime, is secure against future cyber threats and resilient to system outages. All this will be underpinned by delivering value through lowering our cost to run and being faster to meet changing customer requirements.
Over the coming months I will continue to provide insights into our transformation programme. I’ll be writing about the principles we will build on and the systems, tools and process we adopt to deliver a platform that supports the digitisation and optimisation of the UK’s energy system.
Chief Technology Officer
- Industry insight
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- George Eykyn, Director of Corporate Affrairs,
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One of the pioneering forces behind Instant Energy System, an earlier mode of communication between smart meters using the mobile phone network, Martin Brown knows a thing or two about smart meters and the undeniable benefits they have for society.
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We need more open data ecosystems because the big challenges our societies face require, among many other things, access to trusted data for a variety of different organisations.