Cisco Says IPv6 Could Thrive in Smart Grid

Few doubt that the smart grid — the plan to upgrade the nation’s electrical networks,
backed by supporters including politicians, environmental groups and tech industry
leaders — is anything less than an ambitious undertaking.

But it’s also an opportunity to improve the nation’s IPv6 adoption, according to
Cisco. That’s because the networking giant sees a successful smart grid requiring
end-to-end security and Internet Protocol as its common transport.

Cisco today unveiled plans to expand its own smart grid push, with new efforts to help
standardize technologies and build a vendor ecosystem for solution delivery. In
combination with the enablement technologies, Cisco is now also gearing up smart grid
security services and solutions in an effort to help secure the electrical system.

There’s a lot at stake in the market for smart grid solutions. Cisco has estimated the
market to be worth as much as $20 billion a year. Security is also now top of mind as the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is
now investigating
a report into potential threats to the West Coast power grid.

“As utilities are looking to build out smart grid, it’s more effective to agree on a
common protocol across the board as opposed to trying intermix different ones,” Marie
Hattar, Cisco’s vice president of network systems and security solutions marketing, told
InternetNews.com. “In many ways, this is like the early days of the Internet where
we ultimately settled on IP. We see IP as the scalable protocol for smart grid and we’re
working with a variety of vendors to advocate this and make this the key protocol of
choice.”

And there’s likely to be subsidiary benefits to the smart grid, like furthering the
cause of
IPv6
— since since tens of millions of users and new devices around the world will
require connectivity.

Today, most Internet users have an
IPv4
address through which they are connected to the Internet. IPv4 has a 32-bit
address size, allowing for only 4.3 billion addresses and is currently nearing address
space exhaustion. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the organization
that assigns IP address space in North and South America, has publicly
stated
that it expects to run out of IPv4 addresses inside of the next two years.

IPv6, the successor technology to IPv4, has a 128-bit address space, enabling it to
handle far more addresses — though, to date, adoption has been slow.

As Cisco sees it, the smart grid could well prove to be a solid use case and a driver
for IPv6 adoption. Read the rest at InternetNews.com.

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