Cisco Rolls Out Switch, Router for Smart Grid Efforts

Cisco Systems' CGR 2010 and CGS 2520 are the first products in the company's Connected Grid portfolio, one of several efforts from Cisco to bring intelligence and greater security to the networks used by utility companies. The goal is to make the generation and distribution of power more efficient both for the facilities and for their business or consumer customers.

Cisco Systems, which a year ago kicked off its Smart Grid initiative to bring its vast networking expertise to the energy industry, is rolling out a new router and switch designed to help utilities more efficiently deliver power to businesses and homes.

The new offerings, announced May 25, are the first products in Cisco's Connected Grid portfolio, the latest effort resulting from the networking giant's energy management strategy.

The Cisco CRG (Connected Grid Router) 2010 and CGS (Connected Grid Switch) 2520 will enable utilities to grab and analyze data from multiple intelligent electronic devices in a substation. The data can then be used to improve the monitoring and maintenance of power transmission and distribution systems, to find, diagnose and fix failures, and to more easily integrate renewable sources of power into the overall energy offerings, according to Cisco officials.

"Cisco's vision is to help utilities transform energy production, distribution and consumption using an end-to-end, IP-based communications infrastructure to more sustainably meet the world's future energy needs," Laura Ipsen, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Smart Grid business, said in a statement.

Cisco is one of a number of IT vendors looking for ways to embed IP capabilities and greater intelligence into infrastructures around the world to help them operate more efficiently. IBM is pushing a similar agenda through its Smarter Planet initiative.

Cisco's Connected Grid portfolio joins other power management offerings, including the company's EnergyWise and Network Building Mediator technologies.

The new products are based on Cisco's IOS Software operating system.

Along with the substation monitoring and managing capabilities, the two new products also include network security features-such as Cisco's intrusion protection, access control, label switching and VPN technologies-and support IP-based physical security solutions, such as video surveillance.

Officials with Cisco, IBM and other IT vendors say smart grid efforts can not only help utilities, business and consumers save money, but also help the economy and environment.

The Gridwise Alliance, of which Cisco is a member, says smart grid projects will generate about 280,000 jobs, according to Cisco. In addition, the vendor quoted a report from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Department of Energy research lab, in which the lab estimates that global energy and CO2 emissions can be cut by 12 percent if smart grid technologies are put into use.