Siemens Builds the Junelight Smart Battery in a Startup-like Environment on AWS
Among the many benefits of enterprise digital transformation is an enhanced ability to enter new markets and to discover and deliver new customer value. Careful mapping of large, strategic objectives is essential—but so, too, is the willingness to experiment and pivot in the manner of startups.
"Startup" is not a word one expects to hear applied to Siemens, a global electrification, automation, and digitization leader. But the massive, 170-year-old enterprise is indeed using startup-like internal teams to bring new products to market—and some of those teams are using Amazon Web Services (AWS).
For example, consider the company’s Software Defined Inverter (SDI) research department, housed within the Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) Research in Energy and Electronics (REE) unit. SDI was launched in 2016 to explore new product opportunities resulting from the growing worldwide demand for power electronics. Siemens’s Smart Infrastructure Low Power (SI LP) business unit and SDI recently released the Junelight Smart Battery, a consumer battery product for use in homes to store electrical energy from solar panels.
Junelight is one of relatively few Siemens products aimed at individual consumers—an important new segment for Siemens. The company has traditionally focused on business-to-business sales but is increasingly targeting “behind the meter” devices and services like the Junelight system. By using AWS, the SDI team was able to bring Junelight from an idea on a whiteboard to a product in the marketplace in less than two years.
"Using AWS was especially helpful for the early rounds of prototyping and design changes," says Friedemann Paulini, head of the research group for control, architecture, and software for SDI. "By taking advantage of the agility and flexibility of AWS, we needed just 18 months to get from our initial idea to an official Siemens product we could hand off to a business unit for marketing and sales."
AWS services are so simple that you can start testing product ideas almost immediately."
Head of Software Defined Inverter Department, Siemens
Fast Experimentation on AWS
Junelight, which is currently available only in Germany and Austria, is a lithium-ion electrical storage system that helps homeowners minimize their energy procurement costs and CO2 emissions. The product uses AWS to store, analyze, and visualize data related to household consumption profiles. Users monitor energy flows in real time using the mobile Junelight Smart App, which also runs on AWS.
Junelight battery units connect to the AWS Cloud through AWS IoT Core, which enables highly secure interactions between connected devices and cloud applications. The solution uses Amazon Kinesis to load streaming device data into the solution’s data lake, which stores unstructured data in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and it relies on AWS Glue to create schemas. Data analysis is powered by Amazon Athena, a serverless, interactive query service with pay-as-you-go pricing.
For secure, scalable APIs to connect with customer interfaces, Junelight uses Amazon API Gateway, which can monitor hundreds of thousands of concurrent API calls, and Amazon Cognito, which provides a highly secure user directory that can scale to hundreds of millions of users. The team takes advantage of AWS X-Ray, a distributed tracing service, and the Amazon CloudWatch Metrics feature to monitor, analyze, and debug microservice interactions.
The idea for Junelight grew out of early brainstorming sessions that included not only SDI team members but also a product manager from the SI LP business unit. The team decided to run Junelight on AWS in the first week of the project. "Given the number of different systems—IoT, analytics, cloud connectivity, and so on—we needed a public cloud provider that offered not only a wide range of services but also simple integration," says Susanne Forster, team lead in the SDI department. "AWS was the clear choice for building cloud-based IoT platforms like this one."
AWS was also key to the team's fast, startup-like experimentation cycles. "Using AWS made it possible to move very quickly, which was crucial for us," says Andreas Groeger, head of the SDI department.
In the course of this project, the SDI team also used AWS to create an application platform called CACTUS (Control and Converter Technologies for Universal Systems), a reusable ecosystem for IoT controller-based products that includes a hardware microcontroller, embedded firmware, and IoT functionalities such as updates, data lakes, data APIs, and basic maintenance services. CACTUS is intended to jump-start solutions for IoT constrained devices.
AWS Enables Testing Product Ideas “Almost Immediately”
One of the most important benefits of relying on AWS was the ease of getting started. "Especially in the prototyping stage, the learning curve on AWS is very low," says Groeger. "The learning curve goes up as you move toward production and really need to optimize and tune everything, of course, but AWS services are so simple that you can start testing product ideas almost immediately."
Now that Junelight has been released to market by SI LP, Groeger sees value in leaving undifferentiated heavy lifting to AWS so Siemens can continue to concentrate on products and domain know-how around Junelight. "About 80 percent of our AWS usage is managed services, which means we don't have to concentrate on operating infrastructure, which isn’t core to our business.”
To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/iot-core.
Siemens AG is a global electrification, automation, and digitization leader. The company is one of the largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies.
Benefits of AWS
- Helped bring Junelight Smart Battery to market in just 18 months
- Enabled fast prototyping and design changes
- Integrated disparate services easily and simply
- Supports fast releases of new services and features
AWS Services Used
AWS IoT Core
AWS IoT Core is a managed cloud service that lets connected devices easily and securely interact with cloud applications and other devices. AWS IoT Core can support billions of devices and trillions of messages, and can process and route those messages to AWS endpoints and to other devices reliably and securely.
Amazon Kinesis makes it easy to collect, process, and analyze real-time, streaming data so you can get timely insights and react quickly to new information. Amazon Kinesis offers key capabilities to cost-effectively process streaming data at any scale, along with the flexibility to choose the tools that best suit the requirements of your application.
Amazon API Gateway
Amazon API Gateway is a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale. With a few clicks in the AWS Management Console, you can create REST and WebSocket APIs that act as a “front door” for applications to access data, business logic, or functionality from your backend services, such as workloads running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), code running on AWS Lambda, any web application, or real-time communication applications.
Amazon Cognito lets you add user sign-up, sign-in, and access control to your web and mobile apps quickly and easily. Amazon Cognito scales to millions of users and supports sign-in with social identity providers, such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon, and enterprise identity providers via SAML 2.0.
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