Red Hat will power Toronto Hydro’s Smart Meter Program

The recession has propelled more and more Enterprises and Government agencies to look to open source software for their IT Business Intelligence needs to cut costs and avoid vendor lock-ins.  Following the trend, Toronto Hydro Corporation has chosen JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the platform for its Smart Meter initiative. Toronto Hydro is the largest municipal electric distribution utility in Canada and operates two wholly owned affiliates with a combined workforce of over 1,400 people. It serves 697,000 residential and commercial customers across the greater Toronto Area, representing 18.5% of electricity consumers in the province of Ontario.

Toronto Hydro launched a five-year strategic technology initiative, with a focus on implementing a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to replace the organization’s traditional IT infrastructure. Dwindling IT budget also played a factor in the motivation to change. It found that building and maintaining point-to-point interfaces between all the various systems Toronto Hydro had put into place over the years was proving too complex and costly.

The new SOA implementation began as part of Toronto Hydro’s innovative “Smart Meter” initiative, which will leverage the SOA platform to introduce variable pricing based on the time of day that electricity is consumed and to price it accordingly to encourage customers to conserve during periods of high demand. Although Toronto Hydro is not the largest utility in North America, it currently has the largest production deployment of smart meters on the continent, which stands at over 600,000.

The technology initiative required experienced resources to supplement internal staff in delivering complex custom development projects and so a partnership with Toronto based IT consultation group Int3s which is also a Red Hat Advanced Business Partner was born. Toronto Hydro and Int3s then decided to go with JBoss Enterprise Middleware for the Smart Meter program due to the size and stability of the technology and the toolsets that JBoss provided, including JBoss Hibernate, Rules, and jBPM Frameworks, to simplify the migration from Mule to the JBoss platform.

In the past CTO’s and IT managers contemplating Opensource migration were deterred at the prospect of lack of customer support. Now commercial open source vendors like Red Hat have mitigated the issue by providing professional applications support and accountability.

“We didn’t want to be dependent on proprietary products for our SOA framework. JBoss Enterprise Middleware provides a solution that works with other products as long as they meet open standards,” said Eduardo Bresani, Vice President of IT and Chief Information Officer, Toronto Hydro. “Red Hat doesn’t charge for the product itself, but for the support — and we valued the enterprise level support that JBoss provides. With open source, we could avoid proprietary technology lock-in, and standardize everything related to business logic, business processes, and data models.”