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Future of the Grid Series – Part One: What Does the Future of the Grid Look Like?

This is the first of a three part series on the Future of the Grid and the transformation of legacy models.

The electric system in the United States is in the initial stages of a major transformation.  This transformation completely changes the legacy model of central generation, transmission and distribution to a highly diverse and distributed model with substantial amounts of renewable energy, customer-owned generation, and smart, price-responsive loads.

The present regulatory framework does not serve the needs of this transformation.  If current regulatory requirements -- such as net metering -- were carried forward to a world of large numbers of customer-owned generation, the result would be the much written about “death spiral” for the utility industry.  This means utilities would remain responsible for reliability and the supplier of last resort while being deprived of much of their revenue.

Over the past year, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Deliver and Energy Reliability (DOE OE) and the Gridwise Alliance have undertaken a Grid Visioning Initiative and facilitated a series of four regional workshops across the country to aggregate stakeholder views on ways that grid operations, business models, and regulatory models must evolve.

The regional workshops were held in four locations:

  • Western Workshop, December 11, 2013, Seattle, WA
  • Central Workshop, February 4, 2014, Dallas, TX
  • Southeast Workshop, April 8, 2014, Durham, NC
  • Northeast Workshop, May 13, 2014, New York, NY

Attendees included consumer advocates, public service commissioners, manufacturers, renewables developers, state energy officials, utility executives, and state and federal legislators and staff.

Future of the Grid National Summit

The Future of the Grid Summit held June 26, 2014 in Washington, DC, was the culmination of these workshops.  Panel sessions were held to discuss each of the elements of the framework and engage attendees with questions and discussions. The participants discussed the key themes that emerged from the regional workshops and discussed the framework developed by the Gridwise Alliance based on data gathered from the regional workshops. Cisco provided sponsorship for the National Summit, adding Cisco to the list of those providing support and leadership to the Department of Energy and the Electric utility industry.

Keynote speakers at the summit were:

  • Bob Shapard, Chair of Gridwise Alliance and CEO of Oncor
  • Eric Lightner, Director, Smart Grid Task Force, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Representative Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
  • Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy

As Secretary Moniz conveyed in his remarks, the Department of Energy is engaged in conducting their Quadrennial Energy Review. The collaboration and leadership provided by the Gridwise Alliance is critical to the future of the industry and a sustainable energy future.

Becky Harrison, CEO of Gridwise Alliance, framed the discussion with an overview of the findings from the regional workshops, and the framework developed as a result.

A New Grid Framework

The framework begins with the Evolution of Grid Operations.  Grid modernization is not only updating the grid infrastructure for resilience and reliability, it is also fundamentally changing the operating model of the grid from a focus on central generation and delivery to a highly distributed and dynamic multidirectional flow of power from diverse resources.

The next step is the Evolution of Business Models.  With more and more power coming from renewable resources and distributed generation owned by customers, the business model of the industry must change to one that fairly values and fairly compensates all participants and customers.

The Evolution of Regulatory Models immediately follows as there is very little flexibility in the existing legacy regulatory framework of the industry that is embedded in a mix of Federal and state legislation, regulation, and jurisdiction.  Does the “natural monopoly” of the grid persist when growing amounts of power are produced by customer-owned assets?

The fourth element of the framework is Transitioning to the Future Grid.  The enormity of the grid requires that this transformation take place over time.  It is completely impossible to renovate the grid as we might renovate a building -- you can’t shut it down, undertake a huge construction project, and open it with a ribbon cutting ceremony at some point in the future.

The framework is iterative as each portion changes to accommodate changes in the other elements.  This in itself is a dramatic departure from the largely static regulatory and business model that has existed for more than 70 years.

Why is this important for Cisco?

Cisco has been a longtime member of the Gridwise Alliance (GWA) with both Laura Ipsen and now Rick Geiger, serving as board members.  GWA holds a unique voice in the industry as an organization and a forum for discussion and collaboration across the entire ecosystem of stakeholders in this critical industry.  Cisco is able to hear and understand diverse points of view as well as provide input and thought leadership on issues that are shaping the future.

As we engage utility customers in discussions of their strategic objectives and the priorities and business outcomes they seek, the work of Gridwise Alliance and the role of Cisco provide tangible credibility of our commitment to the industry.

If you’d like to know more about Gridwise Alliance, please contact me by commenting on this blog. Also, watch out for parts 2 and 3, where I’ll break down the DOE’s final summary report and the vision of the nation’s future electricity grid.

Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) Case Study features Cisco, NetApp and SAP along with Benefits

December 9, 2014 at 9:04 am PST

Many parts of the world are undergoing structural reform in terms of their utilities and services, and Electrical Utilities are no exception. Privatization was opening up both opportunities and challenges for the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC). “With greater competition on the horizon, the company needed to push its efficiency to the next level”, says a new Cisco case study that talks about the business challenges and how Cisco is helping EAC address them.

As the case study mentions, EAC uses SAP applications for almost every area of business, from materials and warehouse management to enterprise resource planning, finances, and human resources. By improving performance of these SAP applications, EAC realized that it could boost productivity and help departments run smoother across the organization. So that’s what it’s doing.

EAC Quote


So  EAC turned to Cisco and our partners to provide a solution that could help EAC take cycles out of the business whilst still maintaining agility and resilience and allowing them to scale for the future. That solution has, at the heart of it, the Cisco FlexPod environment, built around Cisco® Unified Data Center solutions and NetApp storage (supported via the FlexPod Cooperative Support Model), and helps get gets the most out of SAP applications.

Some pretty compelling Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) numbers are expected, along with other valuable business benefits as outlined in the case study:

EAC TCO Graphic

  • Reports that used to take 24 hours to complete take far less time -- great for managers to get visibility into the business sooner
  • Faster closing of monthly financial periods -- faster visibility into the Utility’s performance
  • Faster migration of user applications down from two to three months to just one month so users can be up-and-running with less delay.
  • Backups that used to take 40 hours can now be completed in only 45 minutes, getting systems up to speed faster than ever.

All-in-all an impressive improvement. I’ll leave the last word to Phanos Kolokotronis, IT manager and CIO, Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) as he states in the case study:

EAC IT Quote

To read more about EAC, the business, and the solution offered with product lists from Cisco and the Cisco Partners (which includes Oracle for the database along with the Oracle Customer Care and Billing application; SAP ECC6; Esri GIS and the Aspect Contact Centre software) click here.

Let us know if you have a similar story you’d like to share and, as always, please engage us with comments telling us  your views.

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Meet up with Cisco at OilComm 2014 in Houston

November 5, 2014 at 11:28 am PST

Cisco is at OilComm 2014, the leading forum for communications professionals in the oil and gas community, November 5-7, 2014, George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX


Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps solve customer’s most important business challenges by delivering intelligent networks and technology architectures built on integrated products, services and software platforms. Cisco’s thought leaders such as Cisco Consulting Services, the Cisco Global Industries Center of Expertise (GICE) and the Cisco Internet of Things (IoT) Group are working closely with O&G industry leaders on the toughest challenges in the industry right now and jointly shaping the frontier of O&G technologies of the future.

Cisco’s highlights at OilComm 2014 includes a booth presence and executive speakers:

  • Panel Discussion: Conquering Skill Shortages and Recruiting Tomorrow’s Workforce Panelist: Mick Shaw, E&P Architect -- Upstream Energy, Cisco Systems.  Nov 6, 1:30 – 2:30 Room: 382

  • Friday Keynote Lunch -- Cutting Edge Networks at the Remote Edge
    Serhii Konovalov Sr. Business Development Manager, Global Lead Oil and Gas Industry Solutions.  Nov 7, 12:30 – 1:30, Room: 372

Along with a booth presence showing some of our newest industry solutions as used by customers like Shell:

You’ll remember we spoke about the new solutions in this blog: Unveiling Cisco Collaborative Operations and Secure Ops Solutions, and about Shell using the Secure Ops Solution here: Cisco to Provide Secure Ops Solution to Royal Dutch Shell

We look forward to seeing you there…

…and that’s not all -- check out Friday, November 7…


Keynote Luncheon
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Solidify your newly formed relationships and continue catching up with old colleagues you haven’t seen since last year at OilComm!  The Keynote Luncheon is included with Conference registration; Exposition attendees may purchase tickets to the Keynote Luncheon. The Keynote Address will be delivered by Tony Shakib, Vice President of IoT (Internet of Things) Vertical Business at Cisco.

Here’s a helpful pointer to Cisco’s Booth:


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Join Cisco at European Utility Week 4-6 November 2014


Join Cisco at European Utility Week 2014  (4-6 November, 2014 in Amsterdam) to gain perspective on key industry issues and learn why utilities worldwide are choosing Cisco to lower their costs and deliver more value from their operations on a single, intelligent and secure platform.

I’m looking forward to meeting up with you at the European Utility week this week. It’s a chance for Cisco to show you some of our newest offers and solutions, but more importantly for us to hear from you at our booth and during the conference.

Come experience our range of industry use case demonstrations and our Ecosystem of Cisco and partners solutions that cover the Utilities and related industries: Field Area Network, Grid Security, Grid Operations, Fog Computing, Distribution Automation, Data Analytics, and a lot more besides!

Over the course of three days, industry leaders come together at this event to discuss the challenges that lie ahead and agree on a path of action that will involve the adoption of specialized and technical solutions. Cisco will be showing several demonstrations and experts will be on hand to talk to you about your care-abouts and discuss how Cisco is highly relevant to your business. Industry partners such as ATOS and Intel will also be sharing their demonstrations at our booth.

We look forward to seeing you there!



Click here or on the picture to see an online floor plan

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Connected Graphics on display at SEG 2014 by NetApp, Cisco, Citrix and NVIDIA

October 23, 2014 at 4:12 pm PST

The coming week sees the SEG International Exposition and 84th Annual Meeting take place in Denver, Colorado. SEG is the Society of Exploration Geophysicists -- those  scientists that are at the sharp end of finding oil and gas around the world. Despite the current boom in non-conventional drilling methods (fracking and horizontal drilling), these natural resources are becoming harder to find. That’s where the partnership between NetApp, Cisco, Citrix and NVIDIA comes in.

You may remember that the four partners got together last year at the same show to perform live in-booth demonstrations on virtualized delivery of industry professional 3D graphics applications (Citrix joins NetApp at SEG 2013 to demonstrate virtualized delivery of 3D professional graphics applications). This year we’ll be taking that further by talking about how we’ve performed additional testing and validation work on the joint solution with some key additions to the technology.

Visit us along with our partners NetApp, NVIDIA and Citrix at the NetApp  Booth 709. You’ll see how we can help oil and gas enterprises enhance collaboration and enable faster decision making without exposing sensitive data. Other NetApp and Cisco partners will join us for in-booth demos and events to highlight solutions that help you:

  • Scale your exploration environment rapidly without impacting performance
  • Enable your remote teams wherever they happen to be
  • Deliver secure 3D access to data and applications

The four partners have come together to provide an integrated solution that utilizes the power of Flexpod from Cisco and NetApp to virtualize the computing, networking and storage infrastructure, combined with graphics processing unit (GPU) capabilities from NVIDIA and desktop virtualization from Citrix. This enables the delivery of large-scale data sets for interactive and collaborative analysis in real-time, regardless of geographic site or worker location. Workers get a similar working environment as if they were local to the datacenter infrastructure, or using a powerful and costly local workstation.

Randal Kenworthy

Randal Kenworthy

Check out the NetApp blog tomorrow to find out what solutions will be demoed (Your Guide to NetApp at SEG -- the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Int’l Exposition in Colorado). Also, lookout for further Cisco Blogs on both the Manufacturing Blog and Energy Blog sites for more information about the industry offers, business solutions and customer insights in these industries. In particular there is an excellent blog by  called Improving R&D Through Remote Visualization that shows how different industries such as discrete and process manufacturing can make use of these technologies.

Contact Wally Beck to schedule a one-on-one or in-booth/demo meeting with a NetApp oil and gas technical expert. Make a note to him if you would also like to see a Cisco person at the booth if available.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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