[qi:_earth2tech] Cisco this morning announced its official game plan for the smart grid market, which it believes represents a $20 billion-a-year opportunity as the systems are built out over the next five years. In typical Cisco fashion, the five-point plan hinges on new opportunities for its existing business lines: networking solutions for smart grid communications, security for the smart grid, gear for the coming utility data center buildout, and energy management systems for the home and enterprise.
As utilities become the next big purchasers of networking and data center gear, Cisco smells a ripe opportunity for its Unified Computing System, which it unveiled earlier this year. While Cisco competes for traditional data center customers with numerous competitors that have legacy relationships, to date the utility market is relatively small, and with its expertise in network security, Cisco could have a compelling pitch. But smart grid communications is the area in which Cisco is most likely to shine; the networking giant says it can play a critical role in helping automate how electrons move from supply to demand.
For now, the plan lacks a lot of specific detail, but it nonetheless is an example of how aggressively Cisco is moving into the space — and signals to some startups that there’s a powerful new competitor (or partner) on the scene.