Cisco's Smart Grid Strategy: Embrace Everything Based on IP

ciscosmartgridIf we learned anything from the construction of the Internet, it’s that the more partners and standardized technology that are involved at the early phases of an infrastructure rollout, the smoother it will go. IBM (s IBM) is trying out that embrace-everyone strategy by launching its SAFE software, and Cisco (s CSCO) similarly debuted today an ecosystem for partners to make sure systems are interoperable with its smart grid network using Internet Protocol.

Cisco has signed up tech companies, utilities and service providers into its ecosystem, trying to find partners at all levels of the network. A long list of companies includes software firms like Accenture (s ACN) and Oracle (s ORCL), tech providers like Arcadian Networks, Itron (s ITRI), Landis+Gyr and Siemens, and service providers like Verizon (s VZ) and Cable&Wireless Worldwide. Announced utility partners so far are Florida’s FPL, Duke Energy, Yello Strom and Enmax, though San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and PG&E (s PCG) are also in discussions with Cisco.

The more partners Cisco has, the easier it will be to sell its network solutions to utilities. While Cisco said there are more companies in the ecosystem than named, the currently announced list is noticeably absent of network competitors like Silver Spring Network, startups (like the kind working with IBM) and even large players like IBM itself.

This is actually a strategy we’ve heard before. A year and a half ago, when we were calling Silver Spring “the Cisco of the smart grid,” the company launched its technology alliance program based on IP and which included smart meter makers GE Energy (s GE), Itron and Landis+Gyr, demand response players Comverge and EnerNOC (s ENOC), home energy network players Control4, Greenbox Technologies and Tendril, software makers eMeter, GridPoint and Oracle — and even Cisco itself.