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Cisco, Itron Partner to Boost Smart-Grid Development

Cisco and Itron have signed a strategic alliance that will further enable the development of a comprehensive smart grid by developing next-generation architecture and technology for an intelligent distributed networking infrastructure. This joint-development agreement is focused on introducing the first fully-implemented IPv6-based communications to the smart grid market, delivered through Itron’s OpenWay smart metering platform.

This alliance will leverage Itron’s existing OpenWay platform, as well as Cisco’s networking and cyber security technology and expertise. The resulting reference design will enable utilities to be in compliance with the proposed North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) cyber security requirements and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cyber security guidelines.

The Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications platform for the smart grid will help advance more consistent and reliable delivery of energy across the electric distribution system and into homes and businesses, according to Cisco.

The companies will focus on developing standards-based secure technology for full IPv6 implementation of field area communications to support smart metering, intelligent distribution automation and interfaces to the customer premise. This also includes interoperable wired and wireless communications among the various components of the smart grid, enabling utilities to scale to meet growing demands from both consumers and highly distributed generation portfolios.

Under the agreement, 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.

Complementing Cisco’s collaboration with Itron, the networking giant also announced its intent to acquire Arch Rock, a pioneer in IP-based wireless network technology for smart-grid applications. Arch Rock’s technology is designed to enable utilities to connect smart meters and other distributed intelligent devices over a scalable, highly secure, multi-way wireless mesh network.

The Arch Rock technology will enable Cisco to offer a highly secure advanced metering infrastructure solution that is fully IP and open-standards based.

These latest announcements build on Cisco’s plans for a highly secure smart-grid infrastructure that addresses everything from data centers and substations to neighborhood-area networks to businesses and homes.

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