Erlang

The problem of connecting to Smart Meters was solved 30 years ago! Powered by scalable technology.

by Mark Cowan

Electricity Utilities around the globe are starting to undergo a radical transformation to address a range of economic, environmental and technical challenges. Global drivers for change are rising emissions, domestic energy resource constraints, growing demand for electricity, financing constraints for new generation assets development, cost of electricity, and ageing infrastructure. In addition, the increasing prominence of electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage at end-users is underlining the need for a sophisticated grid.

Key to understanding the smart grid is smart metering. According to GlobalData, global smart meter installations were 88.2 million in 2017, and these are expected to grow to over 588 million units installed in 2022. China has led the market with 406.9 million smart meter installations to the end of 2017, the US and Japan followed with 38.7 million and 36.5 million smart meters installation respectively.

The total number of data messages may be low today, but as the smart grid continues to roll out, systems will need to scale to billions of messages and be fault tolerant. For instance, each meter will need to be provisioned onto the system, it needs to link with billing, control platforms, data analysis and more. We’re only just beginning to imagine how this data can be used to enable new innovations in the industry. The future of smart meters could empower and transform sustainability, healthcare and peer-to-peer power sharing.

Luckily, the problem of how to connect and control billions of devices was solved 30 years ago in the 1980s by the team at Ericsson who developed Erlang. It’s a language that was built specifically for fault-tolerance, high availability and concurrently running for critical systems. While it was built for the telecommunications industry, it’s now used across a range of industry leaders in betting, health, advertising, online gaming, anywhere that high availability and fault-tolerance is pivotal.

Erlang’s concurrency, its no-shared memory architecture and built-in ‘fail and recover’ approach makes it behave extremely gracefully and predictably under highly variable stochastic load. Erlang excels in handling message explosion and multiplexing – the generation of a cascade of messages out to individual users starting from a single event – a message cascade that can span hundreds of servers in a coherent way that maintains message delivery order. Erlang is the foundation for EMQ X MQTT distributed message broker for all major IoT protocols as well as M2M, NB-IoT and other mobile applications.

To find out more about our partnership with EMQ and how it can help you, head here.

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