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Harnessing Sustainability with Open Source BI
Fat Spaniel Helps Make the Planet Greener

by Tom Cahill, http://www.jaspersoft.comWednesday, April 14, 2010

Despite the tremendous investment in renewable energy production, challenges still exist for the management and optimization of these systems. Because solar and wind electric plants are highly distributed, they require solutions that can be cost-effectively managed remotely. Fat Spaniel Technologies helps energy producers leverage the Internet to tackle the unique needs of renewable energy sites.

Fat Spaniel offers its solutions under the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, which means it delivers software functionality over the Internet that is accessible to customers via a standard Web browser.  Despite this delivery model, Fat Spaniel is still first and foremost a software developer. As such, it has all the expertise in house it needs to develop new functionality for its products.

In early 2008, Fat Spaniel wanted to introduce a sophisticated business intelligence (BI) tool as part of its portfolio of monitoring and management solution as the need for distributed energy generation creates challenges around  information, integration, and control. Different audiences need access to information when the source of that information is from heterogeneous devices across a highly distributed set of locations. The new BI tool was required to enhance Fat Spaniel’s Insight Platform, but Fat Spaniel had a critical decision to make. They needed to improve their ability to quickly introduce new functionality to market, increase ability to scale rapidly and keep up with the aggressive global growth of distributed energy generation, enabling the measurement and reporting of the ROI of renewable energy.

“To us, it came down to a build-versus-buy decision,” said Brett Francis, vice president of engineering and software architecture at Fat Spaniel, about the decision to investigate third-party BI solutions. “We calculated the numbers and realized it really didn’t pay off for us to build our own.”  Francis’ team began its due diligence with a first, non-negotiable requirement:  the solution had to be open source. 

 “Fat Spaniel is die-hard open source,” said Francis. “We didn’t really consider anything else as a viable option in creating our seamless business intelligence tool that would further enhance the information we deliver to our customers.”

In addition to the open source requirement, the new BI solution needed to be capable of harnessing critical data intelligence and needed to be Web-centric and fully optimized with leading-edge capabilities and a modern user interface from a company committed to innovation.

After performing an exhaustive survey of open source BI solutions on the market, Francis chose a a solution that has become an integral component of its reporting and monitoring services for its customers as a part of its SaaS offering. 

Fat Spaniel is using BI to compete on analytics, as the in-depth reporting and analytic capabilities are baked into Fat Spaniel's flagship product, Fat Spaniel Insight Platform, the foundation for all Fat Spaniel solutions and the world’s first open energy intelligence platform for building, sharing, and running energy applications. It enables software developers to extend in-house monitoring systems, explore new energy management capabilities, and leverage an open architecture that supports multiple vendors, hardware types, and integration with the energy IT infrastructure. Insight Platform harnesses the innovation and creativity of an entire ecosystem of partners, to advance Fat Spaniel technologies and solutions.

The Fat Spaniel energy management system provides a comprehensive, accurate web view of solar energy system performance. The information is used by system installers to schedule service visits and optimize the installation for peak performance, and by owners to track and display solar energy generation and usage. Fat Spaniel's revenue-grade reporting capabilities also deliver reporting capabilities required to take advantage of performance based incentives and emerging carbon and renewable energy credit (REC) markets.

"The Insight Platform, provides the critical data infrastructure to our customers in the solar and renewable energy technology industries," said Francis. "We are providing the intelligence to power the next generation of the power grid."

The new solution enables custom source data collection, a reporting function for product interaction, and multi-lingual/standard and custom distributed energy reports. The BI solution is used against thousands of plant sites, hundreds of customers, and more than 200 MWs of renewable energy generation and millions of new packets of energy intelligence information daily. 

With the BI solution integrated, Fat Spaniel customers are able to get the average monthly PV Power generated at a site, show a distributed generation plant portfolio on a map, compare expected energy generation performance to actual, and get the expected PV energy and the actual PV energy for a plant site or many plants distributed across a portfolio.

"With Open Source Business Intelligence, we have been able to harness the energy intelligence data that our solutions measure and report on," said Francis, "By focusing on the creation of the Fat Spaniel Insight Platform and leaving BI frameworks to BI experts, we have been able to scale rapidly and keep up with the aggressive global growth of distributed energy generation and as an extension of our plant lifecycle abilities, the ROI of renewable energy that we can now measure,  has been increasingly attractive for our customers."

Tom Cahill

As Vice President EMEA at Jaspersoft, Tom Cahill is responsible for building the EMEA sales organization and driving both channel and direct sales. Jaspersoft is the market leader in Open Source Business Intelligence, the most world’s most widely used BI software, with more than 10 million total downloads worldwide and more than 12,000 commercial customers in 100 countries.

Prior to Jaspersoft, Tom Cahill held sales management responsibilities at a number of European and US-based software organizations with responsibility for US, European and Asian regions (Valista, Serco, CampusIT) covering both Fortune 500 accounts as well as SMB markets. Previously, in the ICT industry, Tom held the position of Managing Director at Interxion, Europe's leading operator of Internet Data Centres, where he established and managed the UK and Irish operations. Tom has also held the posts of COO at ETP and General Manager Europe at Music Control (now a Nielsen Company). Tom has a degree in International Marketing from Dublin City University and is fluent in several European languages.

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