RWE Effizienz develops solutions that help customers save energy by automatically managing heating and electrical appliances. In March 2011, the company engaged Microsoft Services and received support from an expert team of consultants versed
in Microsoft technologies. Eighteen months later, RWE Effizienz launched RWE SmartHome, benefitting from a fast time-to-market, a high-quality solution, and a trusted relationship with Microsoft Services.
Based in Dortmund, Germany, RWE Effizienz GmbH is a division of RWE, one of the largest providers of electric power and gas in Germany. Under the brand name RWE SmartHome, it develops products that are designed to help customers save energy and preserve
the environment. In 2009, RWE Effizienz began developing an “intelligent house” solution that would automatically manage heating and electrical appliances to help customers reduce utility costs. The goal was to make tailored and energy-efficient house management
available to all homeowners and tenants.
The company planned for RWE SmartHome to feature a radio net that would encompass all household appliances and radiators so that residents could use a central server console to manage energy use automatically. For example, if someone opens a window for ventilation,
the radiator automatically shuts off. If the window is closed, the heat turns on again. When every resident leaves the home, the system turns off all unnecessary appliances and power sources.
For its radio net, RWE Effizienz had to develop adaptors to manage heating, radio-controlled plugs, and in-wall transmitters to which lamps and plugs are connected. It planned to implement door and window sensors, in addition to smoke and motion detectors.
“The components were supposed to be fast and easy to install—almost plug and play,” says Wolfgang Hoffmann, Technical Manager for RWE Effizienz. “As simple as the solution would seem to be for the user, there would be a complex infrastructure behind it.”
||With the support of Microsoft Services Consulting Services, RWE SmartHome made it to market with a high level of quality. The solution is stable, fast to implement, and very easy for customers to use.
|| Wolfgang Hoffmann
Technical Manager, RWE Effizienz
RWE Effizienz intended to make the home network easy to manage through an intuitive interface, and it wanted to provide customers with a way to manage their network when away from their residences through any Internet-connected device. For this reason, the
solution required high standards of data protection and the implementation of a broad range of technologies. “To accomplish our goals, we needed a consulting and development partner who could meet our very high demands,” says Hoffmann. “The partner had to
have expertise in consumer products and server and client technologies—and the know-how to connect these technologies quickly.”
In March 2011, after evaluating several partners, RWE Effizienz decided to engage Microsoft Services Consulting Services. The company was convinced by the fact that Microsoft Services consultants had worked on consumer products and had knowledge of a
variety of Microsoft technologies. “Microsoft Services Consulting Services offered the most convincing team,” says Hoffman. “It had the desired technology expertise. From the outset, they worked with our solution architects to come up with innovative ideas.”
Working as a general contractor, Microsoft Services put together a 30-person development team that included experts from members of the Microsoft Partner Network. For example, Zühlke Engineering developed the RWE SmartHome central unit by using Windows Embedded
CE 6.0 R3, a real-time operating system for small-footprint consumer and enterprise devices. Another partner, iQuest, provided programming support for development efforts that used the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, which provides a comprehensive and consistent
programming model for building applications that have visually stunning user experiences and seamless and secure communication.
The development team built a server structure for RWE SmartHome by using the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 data management software. It used Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 to access the server infrastructure.
It employed Windows Embedded CE as an operating system and designed the user interface by using Microsoft Silverlight 5, a powerful development tool for creating interactive user experiences for web and mobile applications. The team also used Windows Azure,
the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment, to create a platform for delivering software updates and support. RWE Effizienz launched RWE SmartHome. The solution can alert users by email or SMS if a motion sensor or smoke
detector is triggered.
Because RWE Effizienz engaged the expertise of Microsoft Services Consulting Services, it quickly brought to market a solution that will help homeowners better manage their heating and electrical appliances. It formed a trusted and ongoing relationship
with a reliable and highly skilled network of advisors and support.
During the engagement, RWE Effizienz relied on Microsoft Services consultants to help respond to customer requests and accelerate time-to-market. To meet short-term requirements, Microsoft Services was able to quickly expand its team. “At times, we had more
than 50 Microsoft experts working on the project,” says Hoffman. “At all times, Microsoft Services provided efficient and valuable service—and we were able to develop the solution within 18 months.”
Ensured High-Quality Solution
RWE Effizienz developed an easy-to-use, reliable, and highly secure solution. “With the support of Microsoft Services Consulting Services, RWE SmartHome made it to market with a high level of quality,” says Hoffman. “The solution is stable, fast to implement,
and very easy for customers to use.”
Acquired Trusted Development Partner
Between six and eight Microsoft Services consultants work onsite every day at RWE Effizienz, and the company’s engineers discuss their early ideas for product requirements with Microsoft experts. The combined team develops concepts jointly, explores their feasibility,
and plans implementations. “We have developed a very trusting working relationship with Microsoft consultants,” says Hoffman. “No one even notices anymore that team members come from two different companies.
Microsoft Services is a global team of professionals who are dedicated to helping customers maximize the value of their investment in Microsoft software. Microsoft Services touches customers more than 715 million times a year, helping them plan, deploy, support
and optimize our technologies. They also work closely with Microsoft Partners by sharing their technological expertise and product knowledge on a regular basis.
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