While attending the Oracle Utilities User Group (OUUG) and CS Week in 2018, utility representatives heard about the new Customer to Meter solution (C2M) from Oracle.
During OUUG 2018, the Milestone team participated in a session discussing the current Oracle CC&B 2.6 implementation project underway at Vectren. Recently, another utility asked Milestone to explain the differences and benefits of Oracle C2M vs. Oracle CC&B 2.6.
To address this question, we start by first expanding on what Oracle C2M is and how it differs from the traditional CC&B / MDM model.
Oracle Customer to Meter (C2M) Includes:
CC&B: Customer Care and Billing: CIS solution
MDM: Meter Data Management: Captures data from multiple resources, rich integration architecture, configurable BPR imbedded in application, pre-built integration with AMI systems
SOM: Service Order Management: Utility clients can use this integrated application to manage service orders and field activities
C2M bundles CC&B with MDM and SOM to help utility companies save expenditures on licensing and maintenance.From a technical understanding of benefits available to utilities upgrading or implementing Oracle C2M, we turned to our Oracle Senior Technical Architect, Mike Sacco. Mike has more than 10 years of experience working with utility companies nationwide looking to improve their Oracle technology. Here, he shares the following to help utility companies better understand the capabilities with Oracle C2M.
Technical Benefits of Oracle C2M:
Oracle Utilities C2M implementation reduces complexity and maintenance overhead by removing the requirement for Oracle SOA Middleware and the productized CC&B to MDM/SOM integrations from the environment landscape. Traditionally, without C2M, separate / distinct installs of CC&B and MDM/SOM are joined together through the use of Oracle SOA and an Oracle Utilities productized integration pack.
The following diagram outlines the productized integration pack for CC&B to MDM:
While the integration is productized and supported/maintained by Oracle, this architecture has proven difficult and cumbersome at times for implementations:
- Lower Tier environments can become cross connected (Dev to Test for example, or even worse to Prod), particularly post environment refreshes.
- Data synchronization issues between the two systems can cause future process failure to occur at either end.
- Additional hardware / licensing capacity as well as maintenance overhead for the SOA middle tier (front end and database). Depending on capacity needs this can become significant, especially in a clustered multi-node environment.
Single, Unified Application Instance
Oracle Utilities C2M reduces this complexity by merging the CC&B and MDM/SOM systems into a single, unified application instance. Rather that requiring three separate applications, all CC&B and MDM data is merged into one database, driven through one front end application. Transforms and syncs are now performed from within the application instance itself, rather than relying on an externally integrated middleware layer.
The consolidation and simplification that C2M provides does also lend itself to additional challenges. Impacts to database performance, integration points, front end instances and batch processing must be considered during the C2M implementation as these resources are now shared between the CIS and Meter functions. Proper architecture design, performance testing and tunings must be made to ensure system performance is optimized. In addition, CIS and Metering departments will need to align operationally with respect to patching / maintenance cycles, as both departments will now be affected by outages and maintenance activities of the C2M system.
Oracle Licensing Benefits
For another perspective, we caught up with a fellow Oracle Gold Partner, Millennium Consulting, and collaborated on some of the benefits of Oracle C2M for utility companies.
Jay Colmenero, owner of Millennium, shared some of his team’s insights after completing Oracle CC&B implementations and upgrades since 2004.
“One benefit electric, water, and gas utilities need to be aware of is their current CC&B License (Not SPL licenses) will be acceptable to move to C2M,” says Jay.
If a utility is not using smart meters at the time of implementation, Oracle understands the benefit to a utility to be ready to move to smart meters. Hence, they have included the MDM software in C2M and the same goes for SOM .
Jay also adds, “if a utility has limited in-house technical resources, Oracle Cloud offers a flexible subscription model.”
Oracle Cloud Includes:
- Redundancy and failover
- Business continuity
- All upgrades, yes, all upgrades of base code
- One license all product library (subscription gets clients all product access)
- Performance testing and benchmarking
- If the client needs more resources it’s a one call solution and improved performance is guaranteed base on SLA
One thing for a utility considering Oracle technology is clear – there are more options than ever before.
With the innovative opportunities for utilities to take advantage of application bundles and scalable cloud hosting, we at Milestone strive to be experts in a wide range of utility Billing & Payment Customer Information Systems (CIS) solutions. Our goal is to help utilities identify the best option for their particular business needs. Contact us to learn more about our Oracle technology services and expertise, or to hear more about our experience with our utility billing CIS solutions.
*Oracle CC&B 2.7 (C2M 2.7) is available as of 2018 Q4 and now includes ODM (Operational Device Management).