Cisco Extends Smart Grid For Both Offices and Homes

With its new connected smart grid initiatives, Cisco looks to extend energy management to both the home and office.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jun 29, 2010
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The promise of smart grids are that they will help utilities measure and control electricity and use power more efficiently. But it's an idea that isn't just limited to electrical utilities anymore; it's now being extended to office and home environments with a series of new initiatives from networking giant Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).

Today Cisco announced a home energy management solution as well as the Cisco Network Building Mediator Manager 6300 and the Network Building Mediator 3.1 for managing power within an office buildings. With the new solutions, Cisco is aiming to gain larger share of the emerging smart grid and green technologies market.

"Cisco can help its utility customers to make the grid smarter," Marthin De Beer, senior vice-president of Cisco's emerging technology business group, said during a press conference at the Cisco Live user conference Tuesday. "For enterprise customers there is an equally big opportunity for them to optimize their spend on one of their highest expense items and be environmentally pro-active and responsible."

To date Cisco has focused its efforts on utility and enterprise needs for the smart grid with new routing equipment and the EnergyWise portfolio for power management.

With the Network Building Mediator Manager 6300 and the Network Building Mediator 3.1 products, Cisco is expanding its energy management capabilities. De Beer referred to the mediator technology as being an energy routing technology.

"The Building Manager solution gives us scale beyond just a single building and allows you to manage hundreds or thousands of buildings from a single location," De Beer said.

Home Energy Management

Moving beyond just helping utilities and enterprises, Cisco is also aiming to help consumers with their energy management needs as well. De Beer announced the Cisco Home Energy Management Solution which will include a Home Energy Controller (CGH-100). The CGH-100 is a tablet-like unit that is intended to manage and control a home's energy usage and policies. The CGH-100 is a different device than the Cius Android tablet which Cisco CEO John Chambers also announced today at the Cisco Live event.

De Beer noted that the home energy controller will be able to speak all of the different languages that are used by devices in the home. The controller will also be able to integrate with cloud based services to further enable device management and control.

In response to a question from InternetNews.com about how the Cisco home energy management solution would work with non-Cisco devices, De Beer noted that working with multiple solutions is a key part of Cisco's efforts. He said Cisco's efforts were all about managing energy across an IP network with a standards-based platform.

"Our mediator speaks just about every protocol that is out there, including the proprietary protocols," De Beer said. "This harkens back to the early days of the Internet when there were tens if not hundreds of proprietary protocols and our routers were able to route those protocols and make disparate systems communicate. This is similar in the energy space and we're at the same phase."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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