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.



cg forgot to sat that the initials stand for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the folks that help the rural space neighborhoods enjoy electricity at a cost near what the city folk do. That and internet are an uphill struggle in the age of ruthless “efficiency.”

That said, I find no refs to SECURITY as a top priority, expect perhaps SAFE by IBM. It could be a name, it could be a factor well integrated and reflected by the name. Beyond my sussing ability, not my payscale, much higher.

My thoughts and hopes are here: can Chinese schoolboys roam around and change the settings? will it work with system upgrades as we move from central output mega plants to mesh-grid ( or will the equip and costs of such help defend the present system and players- “you could join, if you could afford to” sort of conditions)

Why did the U.S. fail to keep up in mobile bandspeed? competing systems! prices are higher and service is slower than most any. So it’s good to see some concern for getting it right before we have to come back and fix it – for once. And the eternal, excuse my pesimism about timelines!, “When?”


With all of this talk of smart grid standards I would like to point out Multispeak.

It is an industry wide standard funded by NRECA. There are far more utilities and vendors that have adopted this then any other IP based smart grid standard.

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