AWS for Industries

How Kalkitech Rapidly Converted its Million Meter Simulator into a Cloud-based Service

Kalkitech, an AWS Select Technology Partner, is a leading provider of meter communication solutions such as protocol stack for meter reading applications, a meter test tool, and a large-scale meter simulator. Kalkitech stays close to customer needs through its membership in metering standard bodies such as the Bureau of Indian Standards ETD13, the group responsible for drafting national standards for metering devices for India, as well as the Device Language Message Specification (DLMS) User Association protocol maintenance group.

Since its founding, Kalkitech has delivered solutions and support to utility customers in more than 70 countries. More recently, Kalkitech has been working closely with utilities in drafting their meter communication companion specifications, which help meter test laboratories by providing meter conformance test tools and consultancy services.

Challenge

In the utility industry, there are a wide range of smart meters built by different vendors that use different protocols to communicate with head-end data collection systems. Utilities and software providers need to test their systems against a fleet of meters representing a realistic mix of technologies typical to most production environments. To meet this requirement, Kalkitech built the DLMS Million Meter Simulator. The simulator is currently used by dozens of utilities and independent software vendors (ISVs).

The Kalkitech simulator was originally designed as an on-premises solution requiring a utility to provide and maintain hardware and operating systems year round. Customers paid an annual license fee for a product that may not be used for the entire year. Kalkitech wanted to offer customers a service-based option where the customer pays for what they use and does not have to deal with the maintenance and cost of underlying servers. Facing strong customer demand, getting a solution completed as fast as possible was critical to Kalkitech.

Solution Architecture

To meet its customers’ needs and quickly deliver a solution, Kalkitech turned to AWS. Kalkitech took a SaaS model where a simulator instance is created for each customer using Amazon EC2 instances that can be sized based on the number of meters the customer wants to simulate. Customers can simulate up to 1 million meters per instance if their testing systems or head-end systems are on an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) or if they set up a VPN connection to the simulator’s VPC. With this approach, a customer can easily scale up to tens of millions of simulated meters. Or, customers can simulate up to 10,000 meters if they want to connect over the open internet.

The simulator has two major components: the simulator itself and another application, also a thick client running on a user’s machine, that is used to manage and configure the simulator. Kalkitech wanted to modernize the configuration application to a web-based one. Given the time constraints from strong customer demand, Kalkitech used Amazon AppStream 2.0 as a way to make the thick client application immediately available to its customer’s end users. With Amazon AppStream 2.0, Kalkitech offers its customers secure access to the configuration application over any web browser without the need to install anything on client workstations.

Figure One: Kalkitech’s Meter Simulator Architecture on AWS

Result

Within two months, Kalkitech was able to make its on-premises meter simulator available on the cloud as a service. As utilities expand their smart metering programs in support of energy transition initiatives, they sign up and use the simulator as needed with no concerns around costs of maintaining the servers. Kalkitech is now looking at enhancing the simulator to use more cloud-native technologies.

Conclusion

While AWS offers many cloud-native technologies, it is possible to move your existing systems into a secure and scalable environment without making changes to how your applications work. Services like Amazon AppStream 2.0 bring your thick client applications to your customers in a secure manner with little effort on your part. Once you have migrated your application or service to the cloud, you can look into modernization opportunities. For more information, read about AWS Meter Data Analytics or visit AWS Power and Utilities.

Ranjan Banerji

Ranjan Banerji

Ranjan Banerji is a Principal Partner Solutions Architect at AWS focused on the power and utilities vertical. Ranjan has been at AWS for 5 years, first on the department of defense (DoD) team helping the branches of the DoD migrate and/or build new systems on AWS ensuring security and compliance requirements and now supporting the power and utilities team. Ranjan's expertise ranges from server less architecture to security and compliance for regulated industries. Ranjan has over 25 years of experience building and designing systems for the DoD, federal agencies, energy, and financial industry.

Roopesh Ariya

Roopesh Ariya

Roopesh Ariya is a Principal Technical Manager at Kalkitech’s Product Engineering Group. He has over 16 years of experience in the Power & Utilities industry implementing software development projects. He has handled the complete SDLC of multiple projects in advanced metering, grid automation, Edge, and Cloud services. He is actively involved in the implementation of grid modernization concepts.