SAP will expand its software offerings to utilities next month with Raptor, an application designed to let utilities mine meter data in an effort to save power.

The details are a bit vague. Vishal Sikka, an executive board member at SAP who oversees technical development at the software giant, said that Raptor will give "utilities the ability to analyze smart meter data in real time" during a presentation at the CIO Forum sponsored by Samsung down here in Half Moon Bay, California. Ideally, a utility can then take that data and package it up for customers to help them conserve energy or pick a power plan that suits them best.

Utilities right now often don't have great visibility into the data behind their operations. The CIO of China Light & Power, an SAP customer, recently told Sikka that he sends out "dead bills" to customers every month. The bills are dead because they contain dry charts and numbers, but don't tell consumers what they are really using and how.

Roughly 1,000 servers and software like this could help massage 1 billion end-user accounts. It will be announced September 15, he said.

SAP already serves a number of utility customers. Still, this moves SAP deeper into utility territory and heightens the competition with companies like eMeter.

Sikka also had some great details on the latest findings about cloud computing. In recent data from experiments taking place at Stanford, researchers have found that it is possible to retrieve data from the memory chips in a different computer rather than to get the data from the drive of the host computer. Think of it for a second: it is easier to go to another computer to get data because of the inherent mechanical nature of drives. Because they have motors, drives also generally consume more power.

Some studies have also shown that in some circumstances it can be quicker to get data from the memory of another computer than the host computer if Inifiband connections are used. (Infiniband is not a connection standard created by Marvel Comics. It emerged from various standards efforts and vendors in the last decade.)

The implications are 1) that memory could really start to put a dent in hard drives and that 2) clouds do in fact curb energy consumption.