Smart grid platform wars: Cisco raises the stakes with developer network



By Jesse Berst


Last spring we reported that Cisco was doubling down on the smart grid. A few months later, we told you how Silver Spring Networks upped the ante with a major revamp to its partner/developer program.


Now we are back to report that Cisco has raised the stakes again, this time with the formal launch of a developer program of its own. To be more accurate, Cisco is extending its Cisco Developer Network (CDN) to fully embrace the smart grid. It is doing this after more than two years of rehearsal with early partners such as Itron and Proximetry.


The program for Cisco's Connected Grid division builds on Cisco’s broader CDN, which has been around for seven years and consists of more than 30,000 individuals from more than 700 member companies. Like most such programs, it embraces:

·         Developer tools

·         Interoperability testing and certification

·         Marketing support

·         Online support and in-person events


And, like most such programs, it has multiple tiers, with partners paying more at each tier for additional benefits. Partners at the highest tiers are required to offer 24/7 tech support for their Cisco-certified applications. Cisco provides backstop tech support to the partner with established escalation procedures.


Cisco is also building five special interest groups within the smart grid arena:

1.     Data and control centers

2.     Security

3.     IP-compatible grid devices

4.     Transmission and substation design

5.     Field area networks


To get the point of view of a developer, I talked with CDN member Ameen Hamdon, President, SUBNET Solutions, the Calgary-based maker of substation automation and management software. He described several reasons for signing on. One was the chance to leverage Cisco's security capabilities. One plus for SUBNET -- the ability to offer enhanced security to legacy equipment. Hamdon described numerous other benefits from building on top of Cisco capabilities.


Cisco says the fundamentals remain strong

I also spoke with Lionel Chocron, Cisco's Vice President, Connected Energy Networks, who assures me that momentum continues to be strong. Utilities around the world, he claims, are signing up for Cisco's concept of an interoperable, standards-based "multi-service network" -- one that can have the high bandwidth and low latency to handle multiple applications.


Chocron cited Spain's Endesa as an example of a utility that has standardized on the Cisco approach, not just in Spain, but for its Colombian subsidiary Codensa.


There's an important reason for Cisco's continued strong push into smart grid -- namely, because it is part of the larger "Internet of Things" (IoT) trend. Cisco wants to be the de facto standard for the IoT, and the smart grid is one of the first places it is building out at scale.


Of course, other companies want that role, not least of which is Silver Spring Networks. At the moment, SSN's program is bigger than Cisco's, which currently has fewer than 20 members from the smart grid space. But that number is sure to rise, which will undoubtedly push SSN to work even harder to make its own developer program exemplary -- precisely the kind of competition that will benefit both developers and utilities.


In fact, on Thursday SSN announced its new "Speed-to-Value" program that bundles technology and professional services to get utilities up and running faster than ever for applications such as distribution automation, fault locations and load control.


Your additional analysis of the platform wars is always appreciated. The comment form awaits below.


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.


Cisco Drives Partner Success with Connected Grid Developer Program

Accelerates Technology Partners' Ability to Develop Interoperable Smart Grid Solutions with Cisco

San Jose, CA - October 8, 2012 -- Cisco has launched a smart-grid focused developer program that is helping technology partners accelerate development efforts by providing access to developer tools, resources, and go-to-market support. This new Connected Grid Cisco Developer Network (CDN) community enables partners develop solutions that integrate with the Cisco GridBlocksTM architecture and Connected Grid solutions to support advanced smart grid capabilities.

Cisco has negotiated Connected Grid CDN agreements with Alstom Grid, Alvarion, BitStew, Cooper Power Systems, DNV KEMA, Elster, InfoBlox, Itron, LogRhythm, M2M Telemetria, Meinberg, OSIsoft, Proximetry, QinetiQ, Space-Time Insight, Subnet Solutions, Symmetricom.

Interoperability and verification testing: Cisco and/or partner certify the product as interoperable to help access to new markets. Partner may list the product as "Cisco Compatible.”

Cisco and partner integration: Cisco and the partner products can share data through an API, allowing solutions to be built on top of the Cisco network.

Embedded Technology and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM): Cisco licenses technology to be embedded into the partner product. Cisco supports the partner to develop their solution and certifies its compatibility.

"Cisco is committed to help the utility industry achieve its strategic grid modernization objectives while reducing operational expenditures,” states Lionel Chocron, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Connected Energy Networks business unit. The Connected Grid CDN program enables technology partners to benefit from Cisco's deep networking and security expertise to develop and bring to market interoperable standards-based solutions that will make the Smart Grid and all of its benefits a reality.”

Cisco has negotiated Connected CDN agreements with Alstom Grid, Alvarion, BitStew, Cooper Power Systems, DNV KEMA, Elster, InfoBlox, Itron, LogRhythm, M2M Telemetria, Meinberg, OSIsoft, Proximetry, QinetiQ, Space-Time Insight, Subnet Solutions, Symmetricom.

CDN partners benefit from access to Cisco’s depth of networking and technology experience. The program can provide developer resources and technical support, reduced development costs through discounts on Cisco products for development, "Cisco-Compatible” interoperability verification and certification, and go-to-market support with partner programs and sales enablement through access to Cisco sales and channel teams. Examples of how Cisco partners have utilized the program are:

  • Itron has delivered a validated solution to support the rollout of smart meters for BC Hydro's 1.9 million electricity customers. Itron embedded the Connected Grid Endpoint Reference design into its OpenWay meters enabling communications and management over a multi-service IPv6-based communications architecture.
  • SUBNET Solutions and Cisco have performed solution and integration testing between the Cisco Connected Grid routers and switches and SUBNET's Unified Grid Intelligence applications to enable password management and access control of the Connected Grid products. This solution provides utilities with an expanded NERC CIP compliance solution for their grid monitoring & control devices as well as Cisco network devices.
  • OSIsoft is able to provide mutual customers the ability to extend their PI System as a long-term data archive and analysis infrastructure for data derived from Cisco's purpose built network monitoring and management solution.

The Connected Grid CDN program is one of the most comprehensive in the industry and gives partners the ability to develop interoperable solutions in the following technology sub-communities:

IP-Enabled Grid Devices: OEM developers can embed Cisco network technology as a way to provide standardized interoperability while creating a common layer of networking services for a diverse set of devices. (e.g. smart meters, distribution automation sensors and control devices, IP-enabled smart objects)

Field Area Network: Partner solutions can integrate with Cisco’s ruggedized 1000 series Connected Grid series routers and utilize the highly secure, multi-service communications architecture to connect and manage millions of endpoints.

Grid Security and Management: Partners can reduce risk and accelerate system design for their security solution offerings through certified interoperability with Cisco enterprise-class security and network management products.

Transmission and Substation: Partner solutions can integrate with Cisco’s ruggedized 2000 series Connected Grid series routers and 2500 series Connected Grid switches to utilize highly secure, multi-service wide area networking (WAN) architectures and solutions for substation automation to help utilities increase security, reliability and lower operation costs.

Data Center Operations: Opportunities are available for application software partners in the areas control center applications, outage management, data center and back-office applications, data analytics and visualization, grid operations and business services.


Supporting Technology Partner Quotes:

Laurent Schmitt, vice-president Strategy and Innovation, Alstom Grid Power Electronics & Automation: "Next generation SmartGrid architectures will require to migration of traditional Substation Automation architectures to fully digitalized architectures where ultra high speed - high resiliency & high security communication is a must. Our relationship with Cisco is precisely to close the necessary technology gap and reach an interoperable end to end Smart Energy System.”

Mark Thurman, president, Cooper Power Systems: "Cooper Power Systems has been working with Cisco to support secure IP based solutions for Grid Automation. We recognize that Cisco is a well-known player in communications and network security."

Paul Leufkens, president, DNV Kema Powertest: "KEMA-Powertest continuously invests in new equipment, our laboratories, and improved testing techniques to stay at the leading edge of technology. And now with the evolution of smart grid technologies and Cisco CDN, we have invested in the future assurance of grid performance & reliability with our SMART GRID Interoperability Laboratory (SGIL). We are proud to be involved with Cisco’s technology ecosystem and specifically the Cisco CDN program to deliver superior testing and certification services.”

Dave Buster, director of Solutions Architecture, Elster Solutions: "By making its advanced technology and expertise available, Cisco is providing a valuable service both to our company, and to the Smart Grid industry as a whole."

Tim Riley, vice president, Infoblox: "The growth in Smart Grid is creating new demands on IP-based network platforms that includes scale, resiliency and transparency. As a CDN partner for Cisco's Connected Grid initiative and the global leader in IP address resource management and delivery, Infoblox is uniquely positioned to ensure the highest levels of network availability and scalability. We look forward to working closely with Cisco and Cisco's Connected Grid partners and customers to deliver world-class solutions that will help transform how energy is monitored, managed and distributed."

Philip Mezey, president and COO, Itron Energy: "It is through Itron and Cisco’s extensive collaboration that we have been able to deliver the first multiservice communications infrastructure to utilities. Our vision of truly open, interoperable communications has become a reality, and now utilities can deploy a foundational platform that enables ‘plug and play’ interoperability of smart grid applications and devices.”

Matt Winter, vice president of Corporate & Business Development, LogRhythm: "LogRhythm, with its award-winning SIEM 2.0 platform, is the global leader in cyber threat defense, detection and response. Together with Cisco, we are bringing to market solutions that empower energy and utility customers to tap the enormous potential of Smart Grid while addressing critical security and compliance challenges present in the connected grid and IT networks more broadly. As a recipient of Cisco's Connected Energy Network Partner of the Year Award and longstanding CDN partner, LogRhythm looks forward to building upon our track record of innovation with Cisco."

Martin Otterson, senior vice president, Sales, Marketing and Industry, OSIsoft: "OSIsoft is helping drive the evolution to the next generation energy grid. By going through the CDN Interoperability Verification Testing, we have confirmed that our products meet performance goals and expectations when deployed on the Cisco platform"

Tracy Trent, CEO, Proximetry: "Cisco and Proximetry solutions deliver advanced performance management, service assurance and better security to wireless users and devices in the Smart Energy industry. We are proud of being founding members of Cisco's CDN program for Smart Grid and sharing Cisco's vision of a new Smart Energy future."

Mark Hewitt, EVP Operations and Strategic Development, QinetiQ North America: "QinetiQ North America is proud to partner with Cisco and other industry leaders in the worldwide deployment of advanced smart grid technologies. Together, we are building smart grids that are providing more efficient, reliable power to people and businesses through low-cost improvements to existing infrastructure.”

Ameen H. Hamdon, president, SUBNET Solutions Inc. "With the CDN program, SUBNET is able to seamlessly integrate its data integration and automation solutions with Cisco Connected Grid networking solutions. This provides utilities a comprehensive solution to securely communicate and access the information from all of their intelligent Transmission & Distribution grid devices.”

Manish Gupta, vice president, Marketing and Business Development, Symmetricom: "Symmetricom is pleased to participate in Cisco’s Connected Grid CDN program. As a worldwide leader in precision time and frequency technologies, we are committed to ensuring power grid reliability. Our solutions deliver the accuracy, precision, automation and flexibility that meet the demands of the world’s next generation power grids, and will help meet Cisco’s mission to deliver a highly secure communications infrastructure for the smart grid.”

Supporting Resources:


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