Itron Inc. and Cisco announced a strategic alliance that they say will advance the transformation of the world’s energy infrastructure. Together, the two companies state that they will deliver a definitive 21st century Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications platform to the smart grid market and help advance more consistent and reliable delivery of energy across the electric distribution system and into homes and businesses.
Itron and Cisco will collaborate on solutions that will transition smart metering technology into an open and interoperable, enterprise-class network for utilities. Specifically, the two companies will develop a standards-based, highly secure technology for full IPv6 implementation of field area communications to support smart metering, intelligent distribution automation and interfaces to the customer premise. Such an approach will help ensure consistent and interoperable wired and wireless communications among the various components of the smart grid, enabling utilities to scale to meet the demands of increasingly empowered customers and highly distributed generation portfolios.
"The alliance between Cisco and Itron represents a major step forward in the realization of a modern, more intelligent energy infrastructure. Together, we aim to enable standardization of the smart-grid architecture and help create an end-to-end communications platform. As a result, utilities will benefit from an energy grid that is more secure, scalable and reliable, as well as solutions that are easier to maintain and able to support future needs," said Laura Ipsen, Cisco Senior Vice President and General Manager for the Smart Grid business unit.
When asked about the value of the alliance, Philip Mezey, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Itron North America, stated, "Our customers have reiterated that security, interoperability and open standards are critical to the success of their smart grid initiatives. We are creating the first enterprise-class utility networking solution to utilize the scalable, reliable, highly secure technology synonymous with the Cisco name around the world. At Itron, we are enthusiastic about this effort and its potential to enhance utility communication networks around the globe."
Under terms of the agreement, Itron and Cisco will jointly develop the reference design that defines a standard for smart grid field area and smart metering network communications, utilizing the latest version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6). A key standard identified by the National Institute of Technology, IPv6 integrates network security into its framework; allows for simplified processing of data by routers and other network devices; and offers a wealth of extensibility options over the current and widely-used IPv4 implementation.
Itron will license and embed Cisco IP technology within its OpenWay® meters as well as distribute Cisco networking equipment and software as part of its smart meter deployments. Itron will continue to provide the complete solution and maintain its customer relationships.