It makes sense that Cisco wants to break into the smart grid industry—it requires much of the same technology as the computer networking industry. Last year, CEO John Chambers announced that the computing giant had an unlimited budget for smart grid projects, and now we're finally seeing some physical projects come to light with two pieces of smart grid gear: Cisco 2000 Series Connected Grid Router and the Cisco 2500 Series Connected Grid Switch. Both of the items are based on Cisco's networking products.
"The connected grid router and connected grid switch are purpose-built for demanding substation environments," says Laura Ipsen, Cisco’s senior vice president of smart grid, in an interview with FastCompany.com. "These products meet stringent environmental and electromagnetic interference issues. They can tolerate temperatures from -40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and offer protection from electrical surges."
Well-regarded startups like Smart Synch and Silver Spring are already working on similar products, so why does Cisco have an advantage? Name recognition matters when utilities are weighing investments. And Cisco already has happy customers—utilities including Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, E.oN and Enel have been tested the grid router and grid switch for months. "We've been pleased," Ipsen says.
The router and switch are the first in Cisco's line of Connected Grid solutions, which will eventually include products covering every aspect of the smart grid industry (think operations centers, data centers, regional networks, local networks, and homes). Whether it can push out the the smaller companies angling to get on the nascent smart grid industry remains to be seen, but Cisco certainly isn't going anywhere.