Silver Spring embraces cloud, software-as-a-service for smart grid

Smart grid company Silver Spring Networks launched a new service on Wednesday that uses the cloud and software-as-a-service to give utility workers access to real time data, for monitoring grid systems and receiving alerts. You might think utility employees already have access to services like this — which are starting to dominate other industries — but the power sector is relatively slow moving and just starting to gain the benefits from advanced networking, big data management, and mobility.

Silver Spring Networks’ new service, called SilverLink, enables utility workers outside of the back office operations center to access these types of software tools on demand, via a subscription. Silver Spring Networks already offered its utility customers similar software but not as an on-demand cloud-based service outside of the back office, and Silver Spring largely had to customize these tool for select customers.

Utilities and smart grid companies need to lean heavily on the cost-reduction and performance benefits of the cloud. All industries that use networking should; it’s just the future of how IT networks are getting built. Companies with networks already built out, are touting those benefits, like Verizon, which teamed up with meter data vendor eMeter to offer utilities cloud-based smart meter management services last year.

Silver Spring needs to sell more services and software down the road. Building out networks for utilities is a low margin business. But since Silver Spring owns the networks for the customers it works with, it has an advantage when it comes to selling them these types of services.

The company, which was founded in 2002, filed for an IPO last year but has yet to go public and instead raised money from EMC and Hitachi. For the six months ended June 30 2012, Silver Spring generated $107.04 million, down slightly from the $115.50 million from the same period the year before. For the same six months in 2012, Silver Spring posted a net loss of $41.84 million, which is a smaller loss than it reported for the same six months in 2011, at $54.39 million.