Cisco Beefs Up Smart Grid Portfolio With New Hardware

Cisco on Tuesday launched new products in its Connected Grid portfolio, hoping to point more Cisco partners toward opportunities emerging in the energy and utilities markets.

Smart grid architecture requires advanced network monitoring and IP-based routing and switching, said Sanket Amberkar, Cisco's director, Smart Grid Strategy. But energy grid and utilities also have unique requirements, such as substation automation, physical security of the hardware, and the ability to analyze information such as power transmission.

New products include the Cisco 2010 Connected Grid Router and the Cisco 2520 Connected Grid Switch, both based on Cisco IOS software. They are two of the first hardware products specific to Cisco's Connected Grid portfolio, which also includes energy metering and network management tools like EnergyWise and Network Building Mediator.

Cisco will be crafting services offerings for partners that build on those products, Amberkar explained. Next will come energy -- and utilities-specific training and partner certifications, which Amberkar expects to debut in September.

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"We've been reaching out and building new partnerships in this area that include some of our traditional channel partners," Amberkar explained. "Right now some of our channel partners do have the needed capabilities, but we're looking to scale it beyond those partners and also locate VARs with an interest in specializing in the utility space."