Cisco and Itron Unite in Smart Grid Energy Collaboration

By Erin Monda September 01, 2010

A few minutes ago, Cisco and Itron announced a strategic alliance that will define the evolution of the world’s energy infrastructure.

According to Malcolm Unsworth, Itron’s president and CEO, the industry “has long been in need of standardization and this alliance is a step towards reaching that goal. This is the realization of a modern, more intelligent energy infrastructure.”

Together, the two industry giants intend to deliver a definitive 21st century Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications platform to the smart grid market. This move will increase the reliable delivery of energy across the electric distribution system – and into homes and businesses. 

Cisco and Itron are world presences in their own distinctive rights – and a collaboration in favor of revolutionizing smart grid technology will play upon their strengths in smart metering and network communications. The end result will yield smart metering into an open and interoperable, enterprise-class network for utilities. In short, this means that the product itself will be available for others to integrate, moving the market on communications technology towards a fully open space for the network stack.

The two companies intend to create a safe, standards-based technology for full IPv6 structuring of field area communications in order to support smart metering, intelligent distribution automation and interfaces to the customer premise.

Their approach will guarantee regular and interoperable wired and wireless communications among the various smart grid components, ensuring utilities can scale to meet the demands of increasingly empowered customers and highly distributed generation portfolios. This kind of change doesn't happen overnight, but with investment, the grid will become more intelligent.

A compelling case is being made for the customers, by the customers. With the anticipated large-scale introduction of electric vehicles (EVs), for example -- the need for a greater capacity, dependable smart grid infrastructure is a necessity.

Representatives from both Cisco and Itron released statements following the announcement.

Laura Ipsen, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager for the Smart Grid business unit, said, “The alliance between Cisco and Itron represents a major step forward in the realization of a modern, more intelligent energy infrastructure. Together, we aim to enable standardization of the smart-grid architecture and help create an end-to-end communications platform." She added, "As a result, utilities will benefit from an energy grid that is more secure, scalable and reliable, as well as solutions that are easier to maintain and able to support future needs."

When asked about the value of the alliance, Philip Mezey, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Itron North America, stated: “Our customers have reiterated that security, interoperability and open standards are critical to the success of their smart grid initiatives. We are creating the first enterprise-class utility networking solution to utilize the scalable, reliable, highly secure technology synonymous with the Cisco name around the world. At Itron, we are enthusiastic about this effort and its potential to enhance utility communication networks around the globe.”

Cisco’s SaaS architect and manager of product management, Sina Miri, will be presenting at IT Expo West. To find out more, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2010. To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Sina Miri is speaking during “Bringing Social Software into the Enterprise.” Don’t wait. Register now.

IoTevolutionworld Contributor

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