Secure energy: Perspectives on integrations, sustainability, and emerging threats

Municipal energy companies supply Sweden's residents with fossil-free energy, water, and waste management – a basic infrastructure that must function every day, year-round.

Robert Jakobsson


Robert Jakobsson

Head of Public Sector Sweden

Municipal energy companies supply Sweden's residents with fossil-free energy, water, and waste management – a basic infrastructure that must function every day, year-round. Two anonymous Swedish energy companies share their respective journeys in integrations, sustainability, and increased security requirements - with insights from two industry representatives.

Municipal energy companies in Sweden deliver fossil-free energy such as district heating and electricity, as well as fiber, water, and waste management to their respective communities. Here, two energy companies share their experiences regarding integrations, external influences, global trends, work on sustainability and we also feature insights from two industry representatives.

Energy Company #1: "It's exciting to visualize what we've built"

The IT department at Energy Company #1 has been working with Frends iPaaS for some time, but previously had manual and almost rudimentary integrations, which made troubleshooting difficult or nearly impossible:

"For us, there were scattered scripts on different servers, making it difficult to get an overview and even harder to troubleshoot."

When the decision to introduce a central integration platform was made, it was well received. While only a small team directly handles integrations, many across different departments have noticed the positive effects in their daily work.

"The platform has streamlined work and eliminated many manual processes. It's exciting to be able to visualize what we've built and step through each variable to see exactly what the integration does. Moreover, if something goes wrong, it's very easy to see."

Another advantage is that utilizing the platform doesn't necessitate a programming background. This means that any member of the IT department can create integrations, which has significantly simplified the work.

The collaboration with Frends has been smooth, and the IT department has effectively managed without requiring assistance from customer service. With over 80 integrations successfully implemented, the company intends to maintain its utilization of Frends moving forward.

Energy Company #2: "This is completely new, a paradigm shift"

For Energy Company #2, integration efforts were not established until the IT manager, who also serves as the Chief Security Officer, took proactive steps to address the situation.

"Before Frends, we lacked error controls, and troubleshooting was almost impossible – if there was an error somewhere, we had to start over. That led me to proactively decide to introduce a central integration platform. With 50 integrations in operation, it's convenient to have everything collected and documented in one place. We can immediately see and address any errors, which is a significant advantage."

What, then, is the most appreciated feature among users?

"It's difficult to specify since we didn't have an integration platform before, but many appreciate the visual aspect. We can clearly see which integrations we have and which ones are active. For us, this is completely new, a paradigm shift."

Escalating threats and growing demands

Both companies keep a vigilant eye on global trends and the changes affecting the entire industry.

For Energy Company #1, the introduction of Frends has led to an improved ability to adapt to new requirements. To ensure compliance with the NIS2 directive, which is the new EU-wide legislation on cybersecurity, the IT department conducts thorough security assessments for all new systems.

"We experience an increased threat landscape in general, and the demands for security are much higher. Within the IT department, we oversee both digital and physical security aspects. This encompasses a wide range of measures, including access control systems, alarms, and camera surveillance."

Another factor affecting the energy industry is international conflicts.

"Currently, we are affected by the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in sharply rising prices for wood fuel, especially since a large part comes from Russia. Another factor is that when interest rates rise, we do not get as much return wood, which in turn affects prices – and right now, we don't know when prices will go down again."

Energy Company #2 also conducts regular security assessments to address the requirements and regulatory compliance of the NIS2 directive. Collaborations have also been initiated with external experts to analyze and plan more security measures, as well as to educate department group leaders who can then educate their employees. In relation to this, another trend presenting certain challenges is also addressed:

"In the energy industry, we have legal requirements to collect data every 15 minutes, data that users want access to in order to, for example, optimize the charging of their cars or run a washing machine when electricity prices are lowest. This provides an important service but also poses challenges in terms of security and integration. It is of utmost importance to understand the entire process and how it is handled before inserting sensitive data into cloud services."

Sustainability, social responsibility and collaboration

When it comes to sustainability, both companies are committed to streamlining operations and minimizing unnecessary energy consumption. Energy Company #1 describes their approach as follows:

"We are a municipal company, which means we have a significant social responsibility. Sustainability is central to this."

Energy Company #2 has a similar approach:

"Sustainability is a priority for us and is integrated into our decision-making process when planning. We regularly update sustainability reports as part of our business operations."

Both companies are receptive to collaboration and eager to share their experiences and integration solutions with other energy companies. By working together, they can prevent unnecessary duplication of efforts. Sharing insights and reusing solutions has the potential to streamline the industry as a whole.

Energy Company #2 underscores the importance of cooperation among energy companies:

"A few years back, there was talk of establishing an electricity grid hub, aiming to consolidate statistics from all electricity grids and trading companies into a single accessible platform. This initiative could facilitate collaborations among electricity companies. Although it appears to have been delayed somewhat, we remain optimistic about its eventual implementation. With Frends, we see the opportunity to maintain flexibility in selecting the data we share."

Insights from more industry representatives

Jonny Axelsson, a consulted industry representative and IT manager/CIO at Pitenergi, supports the idea of establishing an integration forum focusing on collaboration and sharing digital solutions. He stresses that such an initiative would not only be advantageous but also necessary for energy companies with limited resources:

"Collaboration and reusing existing solutions are crucial in meeting the increased demands for security, digitization and sustainability."

Another person sharing their experiences is Anders Lindborg, a solution architect at Sandviken Energi.

"During my years in integration technology, I have encountered various tools and platforms, but they have often had the same problems. Either they are too simple, limiting functionality, or they are too technical, requiring long development time and complicated operation and maintenance."

Anders adds that with Frends, he found a perfect balance between simplicity and advanced features. The ability to run agents locally also solved many security and GDPR concerns. With the energy company's limited resources, the choice to buy a platform as a service was also obvious.

"Frends seamlessly integrates with our existing BPMN-based process tools, which further facilitated the decision for us. Additionally, being able to place agent servers in appropriate network segments allows the municipality's IT department to manage general operations without problems."