IBM's SAFE platform is designed to give utilities a simple way to bring energy-efficient technologies to their operations, while giving software makers a vehicle for getting their applications to those utilities. IBM's announcement comes the same day that IBM and Cisco Systems officials helped announce a smart grid project pushed by PG&E and the city of San Jose, Calif.
IBM and Cisco Systems have been among the
more aggressive IT vendors looking to bring their technologies into the rapidly
growing smart grid space.
Now IBM wants to be the pathway that
others can use to get into the market.
Company officials Sept. 16 rolled out a software platform that IBM
said not only will help utility companies find ways to operate more
efficiently, but also will give smaller vendors a platform on which they can
build their offerings.
IBM is unveiling its SAFE
(Solution Architecture for Energy and Utilities Framework) platform, part of
the company's larger Smarter Planet strategy for bringing greater intelligence to
power and other infrastructures.
The announcement came the same day that representatives of both IBM
and Cisco stood with officials from Pacific Gas and Electric and the city of San
in announcing an initiative to integrate PG&E smart meters with the city's
solar energy infrastructure. PG&E officials said the company will put aside
some of the $42.5 million in federal stimulus money it has applied for from the
Department of Energy for the project.
For energy companies that are looking for ways to reduce their operating
costs and to give their customers tools for monitoring and managing their power
consumption, IBM's SAFE
solution gives them a platform through which they can incrementally add
technologies and solutions, according to Guido Bartels, general manager of IBM's
Global Energy and Utilities unit. Bartels pointed out that many of these power
companies are under increased regulatory pressure to find alternative sources
of energy, including wind and solar energy, and to add such technologies as
emission controls and smart distribution.
"We're in a position to help our utility clients transform their
networks more efficiently," Bartels said in a statement. "The SAFE
framework provides visibility, control and automation across the utility infrastructure
as well as IT assets to help provide security and business agility as part of
an intelligent network transformation."
IBM also announced a validation process
for partners that sell applications to utilities. The program will ensure that
those software solutions work on the SAFE
platform, which officials said will lead to easier integration and deployment
for power companies. IBM listed a number of
partners-including ESRI, SISCO, Retriever Communications and Trilliant-that
already are on validated on the SAFE
IBM and Cisco both see bright futures in
the smart grid business. Over the past few months, both companies have
announced smart grid projects, including one
initiative, announced in July, in which they are collaborating with Dutch
utility Nuon in a pilot project to bring new smart meters and home energy
management systems to 500 households in Amsterdam.
Cisco announced in May a plan to bring
its networking expertise to the smart grid space. Cisco officials estimate that creating more
efficient power grids could grow into a $20-billion-a-year business for Cisco
within five years.