Author: Vikas Butaney

February 6, 2019

Utilities are transforming. In working with over 200 utilities worldwide, we find that they are facing three key business imperatives – securely improving grid reliability and efficiency, integrating distributed energy resources (like wind and solar), and identifying new revenue opportunities.

Take our customers Enedis, the primary energy distributor in France, who wants to improve their operational efficiency by modernizing 750K secondary substations and innogy, Germany’s leading energy company, who wants to eliminate their COfootprint by completely transitioning to renewables.

To realize their business priorities and transform with the changing nature of the electricity business, customers like Enedis and innogy are beginning with – the foundation of a secure and reliable communications network.

And who can best provide that than the global technology leader – Cisco. Over 50,000 customers deploy Cisco’s secure communication technologies for Operational Technology (OT) use cases across a broad range of industries – from utilities and manufacturing to transportation and smart cities.

We continue to innovate for our utility customers, and I am excited to share our latest announcements–Cisco’s next-generation Industrial Routers and Catalyst Industrial Ethernet switches; enhancements to Cisco resilient mesh network now with Wi-SUN 1.0 support; new Cisco Validated Designs – blueprints for distribution and substation automation; and a developer eco-system extending Cisco platforms.

Innovations like these are enabling our customers to build one utility network for their entire grid with unmatched flexibility, scale and security.

Multi-layered grid security

A modern, connected grid has a greater threat surface – making security a top concern for OT and IT alike. But securing the grid is not easy. It is a complex, multi-dimensional problem, ranging from physical security to cyber security.

At Cisco, we have a multi-layered security approach. We integrate security into all of our network layers – the hardware, operating system, and edge computing apps – eliminating security gaps. And our grid security solutions combine industry-leading cyber security with video surveillance to monitor physical security of remote locations – ensuring a comprehensive view.

Connecting their grids through Cisco’s secure network that is based on global security best practices like NERC CIP, empowers our customers to detect and contain threats in real time. 

Flexible deployment at scale

Cisco networks are built for flexibility. One of the largest utilities in the United States is optimizing the cost and performance of their distribution automation system by integrating multiple access technologies into a single operational network. Using Cisco IR800 series Integrated Services Routers (in areas with cellular coverage) and Cisco IR500 series and Cisco Resilient mesh (in areas without cellular coverage), they are building a unified network managed through a single pane of glass using Cisco IoT Field Network Director. And both our next-generation routers and switches have a flexible and modular design. In the future, as technologies like 5G get deployed, customers can replace a module and retain the rest of their investments.

We find that complex, large-scale utility problems cannot be solved by one vendor alone. That is why, we partnered with industry leaders to provide proven solutions and blueprints for successful deployments across six key utility use cases – Distribution Automation, Substation Automation, Utility WAN, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Grid Security, and Mobile Workforce.

Last week we announced a new Developer Center (with free resources and tools) on Cisco DevNet for – ISVs, partners and customers. Now over 500,000 developers can build edge computing and security apps that can solve the utility challenges of today and tomorrow.

Take Eximprod, our ISV partner who has developed a Virtual RTU that runs as an IOx app on the Cisco IR809 Integrated Services Router. With Cisco’s free tools like the sandbox, utilities can test Eximprod’s app before deployment or develop their own innovative capabilities.

Now, with Cisco’s flexible and scalable network and management platforms, customers can manage their entire grid and mobile workforce with ease.

New revenues beyond the grid

On top of their modern grid, utility customers are building new services for smart cities, like street lighting, waste management, electric vehicle charging and more.

As utilities and cities partner, they need a multi-purpose network that is standards-based and interoperable – the very basis of the Wi-SUN Alliance. As the founding member of this alliance, I am proud to say we have introduced the first product certified to the alliance’s recently released FAN certification program – the IR509 Industrial Router.

By extending Cisco’s trusted network to their new smart services, utilities can leverage familiar technologies to easily connect and manage their entire business – from the grid to the city. CIMCON Lighting is one such partner, who combines Cisco’s resilient mesh network with their lighting management systems to deliver smart city lighting.

Additionally, Cisco Kinetic for Cities, a cloud-based smart city data aggregation platform, enables our customers to easily create new service offerings across six different domains including – street lighting, waste management and environmental monitoring.

As new revenue models emerge, Cisco will be with you every step of the way – from smart utilities to smart cities and beyond.

Used with permission from Cisco