Here Come the Open Smart Grid Software Players

Now that the smart grid appears to be settling around Internet Protocol and a future based on the desire for open standards, software developers are emerging and taking a crack at making applications that are interoperable over various networks and can enhance the power grid. For example, smart grid software developer Grid2Home, a year-old company, emerged this morning with its first round of seed funding from Granite Ventures.

Grid2Home’s execs have deep roots in the wireless world — from Qualcomm (s QCOM) to Texas Instruments (s Txn) — and have approached the smart grid in much the same way you’d see a traditional wireless network software company. The company makes a software platform that can be used by developers to connect various devices across numerous smart grid networks, and Grid2Home licenses the software to chip companies, smart energy device makers, electric vehicle charging companies and car companies.

That type of startup, which builds tools for developers based on standard network technology, is pretty typical in the Internet and mobile ecosystems, but somewhat rare for the smart grid world. Their emergence means, despite the nascent stage of the smart grid industry, that startups are betting that the smart grid will have the same type of open standards and innovation like there is for the Internet. I expect to see more startups emerge making the same bet over the next few years.

One of the key indicators that IP and open standards could be the future of the power grid network came a few weeks ago when Cisco (s CSCO) bought up wireless network company Arch Rock, a startup that called itself the first completely open standard networking option for the smart grid (see Why Cisco Could Reach An End to End Smart Grid Network First, on GigaOM Pro, subscription required). Cisco has emphasized an IP smart grid, and specifically one based on the latest IP numbering systems IPV6.

Of course, pioneer Silver Spring Networks has done the heavy lifting for building an IP-based smart grid over the past seven years, and now faces some serious competition from Cisco, which also recently announced a partnership with smart meter maker Itron (s ITRI).

Image courtesy of woodleywonderworks.

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