• Cisco Strengthens Its Smart Grid Play

    by  • September 17, 2009 • Clean Tech, Smart Grid

    Berlin Gate

    Today, at the Platt’s Smart Grid Strategies Conference in Berlin, Cisco announced it’s continued commitment to developing and driving the backbone of the smart grid by announcing some new efforts and new partnerships.

    In the way of new efforts by Cisco, one of the most welcomed announcements is Cisco’s increased smart grid security effort.  For anyone who is familiar with Cisco, Cisco’s strength in the network security space is well known around general network security, router firewall security, intrusion prevention, physical security and building systems, and more. Cisco is now turning some of this great background and experience towards the security issues of the smart grid through a set of smart grid security services targeted at utilities and other key components of the smart grid ecosystem.  Cisco’s smart grid security services are broken down into three progressive offerings – Plan, Build, and Run. The offerings include services like Grid Security Business Architecture Assessments, Grid Security Technical Requirements Development, Physical Security Solution Design, Grid Security Optimization, and more.

    Cisco also announced a new Smart Grid Technical Advisory Board designed to be an open forum between Cisco, utilities, and other key players to align smart grid strategies among key players and validate solution and services offerings from Cisco. Initial announced members are a broad mix of international players in the smart grid including Duke Energy in the U.S., Enmax in Canada, and Yello Strom in Germany.

    Lastly, Cisco continues to build out an already strong smart grid partner ecosystem with announcements about new partnerships. The purpose of these partnerships, according to Cisco, is really to move smart grid efforts towards adoption of a communications infrastructure standard of open IP and one of Cisco’s obvious strong points. These newly announced partnerships are with power and utility integrators and consultants, systems integrators like Capgemni and WiPro; technology vendors like Itron, Landis & Gyr, and SecureLogix; and service providers like Verizon.

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that more and more IT vendors like Cisco are getting deeper and deeper into the smart grid and clean technology space. From my perspective, it is a natural fit and evolution of the convergence between IT and sustainability/clean technology spaces. First, both the smart grid and most clean technologies are highly dependent upon information and information technologies. Second, many of the same development and progress issues that we saw with the emergence of the core IT functions and then with the evolution of the Internet are similar if not the same as experienced by smart grid efforts and clean technology development and implementation efforts.

    The Bottom Line: John Chambers and those around him clearly see the potential value of this market, as the smart grid market remains a top focus area for Cisco. These announcements place Cisco clearly on the path to be a driving force in the smart grid space.  Additionally, I would expect over the next six to twelve months for Cisco to announce additional partnerships and additional efforts with other IT vendors, utility providers, government agencies, and others to secure it’s position in the smart grid ecosystem.