Cisco is aggressively building out its smart grid capabilities this week, announcing a major partnership with a smart reader company yesterday and buying a making of IP-based wireless network systems and software for energy management today.
Yesterday Cisco unveiled a strategic partnership with Itron, a vendor of smart meter technology with about 8,000 global utility customers. The two companies will collaborate on a reference design to ensure that their smart grid field technology is based on end-to-end IPv6 networking technology, ensuring interoperability among smart meters, intelligent power distribution systems and on-site customer interfaces. Today most utility SCADA networks are filled with proprietary and archaic protocols that don’t play nicely with each other. Basically Cisco and Itron will work to make their various power management and smart grid products are standards-based IP technologies that can be deployed in any network. Itron will license Cisco’s IP technologies for use in its products. Although based on IP standards, the reference design will no doubt require the usual bending and stretching of standards by Cisco and Itron that other vendors may not choose to follow.
Today Cisco announced plans to buy Arch Rock, a specialist in IP-based, mesh wireless networking for Smart Grid technology. Arch Rock is a five-year-old start-up founded by a couple of researchers from Intel’s research lab in Berkeley.
Silver Spring Networks, a primary competitor to both Cisco and Itron in the smart grid market, is probably watching these moves closely.