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Event Recap: Cisco at the EEI Annual Convention

I had a great time recently at the EEI Annual Convention on June 7-10 in New Orleans, LA. EEI is the Edison Electric Institute, the industry association of the Investor Owned Utilities in the U.S. with international utility membership from all over the world. The Annual meeting is a unique event that includes the attendance and presentations by the CEOs of member utilities. The theme of this year’s conference was “Electricity Matters”, exploring the exciting changes happening all across the electric power industry.

The first day was full of excitement, with presentations from Ted Craver and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Moniz shared his thoughts about the dramatically changing U.S. energy landscape, outlining the recommendations defined in the administration’s Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), particularly relating to grid modernization, resiliency, and infrastructure investment.

EEI Chairman Ted Craver led a thought-provoking discussion with Elon Musk, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, who was joined by Tesla Motors Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder JB Straubel. The three leaders discussed electric transportation, energy storage, and the role of technology and innovation for utilities and their customers. Other sessions on the first day included:

  • Approaches to Grid Security and Resiliency – panel moderated by PPL Corporation Chairman, President and CEO Bill Spence, discussing specific actions and approaches the electric sector is taking to improve grid security and resiliency.
  • The Role of the Utility in the Evolving Distribution Grid – Company leaders, regulators, and consumer advocates highlighted the role of the utility in four areas: planning, design and operation, infrastructure enhancement and customer education and protection.
  • Complying With the EPA Clean Power Plan – moderated by Gerry Anderson, Chairman and CEO of DTE Energy, the conversation centered on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and highlighted how new and innovative technologies can quickly change a state’s strategy for complying with the new rules.

The second day of the EEI Annual Conference was just as exciting as the first, beginning with a general session roundtable discussion with the EEI leadership. EEI Vice Chairmen Nick Akins, Chris Crane, and Tom Fanning, and outgoing EEI Chairman Ted Craver shared their insights on the future of the integrated grid. Dominion Resources Chairman, President and CEO Tom Farrell moderated the discussion, which also touched on transportation electrification and distributed generation.
Additionally, there were four “Electricity Matters” session tracks:

  • Microgrids and More—Integrating Diverse Resources into the Grid – Panelists discussed some of the critical questions surrounding the future of microgrids and emerging distributed energy resources.
  • Electrification—Utilities Leading the Charge – Panelists considered questions including: How do you address the claim that electric vehicles (EVs) are only for the wealthy? How do EVs and chargers factor into utilities’ long-term distribution planning?
  • Leading the Solar Growth Engine – Julia Hamm, president and CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association, moderated a discussion on how utilities are innovating with new technologies and programs that enable the deployment and expansion of solar and other distributed energy resources, while meeting customer needs for reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean electricity.
  • Competing for Talent: Building the 21st Century Workforce – Panelists discussed how electric companies are using new hiring and training practices to engage today’s workforce.

Day three marked a great General Closing Session with former CIA Director and decorated General, David Petraeus, as the featured speaker alongside Nick Akins, CEO of AEP. Petraeus talked with Akins about the significant global challenges facing countries and organizations today, including ongoing international security issues, macroeconomic trends, energy policy, and strategic leadership in the 21st century. Petraeus also offered some thoughts on the changing energy landscape in the United States, as it relates to fuel diversity, cybersecurity, and the need for infrastructure investment. He believes that one of the biggest threats to the United States in security terms is cyberspace, especially the infrastructure for which the utilities industry is responsible.

What Does This Mean For Cisco?

The common theme of the conference was that huge changes are not just the future, but are here today. Industry leaders continue to emphasize the need to embrace distributed generation and the requirement to increase the automation and intelligence of the Distribution Grid. Ted Craver, both during his opening remarks at the General Session and his remarks as a panelist on the Role of the Utility in the evolving Distribution Grid, emphasized the dramatic changes in the mission of the distribution grid to connect diverse and variable customer owned energy resources. This represents enormous opportunity for Cisco but also requires flawless execution to address industry concerns for cost, security and performance.

The conference proved to be meaningful, and provided some great topic interaction and discussions between attendees.

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Cisco Live Hosts Enhanced Cisco Collaborative Operations Solution Demonstration

Cisco Live excited many delegates this year, and one of the highlights was the World of Solutions. “Only Cisco could pull this off” one delegate mentioned on Social media (#CLUS). There was an even stronger sense of confidence that Cisco was relevant to many industry verticals this year. The Industrial section of the ‘Cisco Campus’ showed off tons of new advances, and, for the first time, a small but important process industries (including Oil and Gas) booth opened up showing the services-based solutions Secure Ops and Collaborative Operations. Let’s talk about Collaborative Operations.

As you learn in the Video, Suresh Venkat speaks to the how Collaborative Operations goes beyond the ‘one-to-many’ collaborative solutions out there today, and provided a ‘many-to-many’ experience, that can be ‘always-on’ and people, data, and things can be brought into the session to create a more productive process (yes, that sounds a bit like the Internet of Everything – and it is an example!). Having that kind of capability can reduce downtime in, for example, the oil and gas industry, or or any industry that’s looking for a control room type environment to plan, monitor or react to situations and incidents or progress projects more rapidly.

The solution can bring in surveillance media, any endpoint audio including two-way radio, and integrate with mobile wireless collaboration devices like the Librestream camera he displayed. The ‘multiple-tile’ single-pane-of-glass approach demonstrated other integrations as well. Not only news feeds (useful for assessing situations from a news-media/PR perspective), but also feeds from SCADA data analysis systems like the BRS Labs panel Suresh shows in the video, and the Bit Stew analytics software visualization feed demonstrated live at the show.

As Suresh sums up “It’s all about getting the right people together at the right time with the right resources and make a decision in real time”.

To learn more go to www.cisco.com/go/oilandgas.

And, as always, tell us what you think.

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Cisco Live 2015 has a Secure Ops Solution Demonstration Area

Many of you know about the Cisco Secure Ops Solution that was announced in 2014, and that it has already been adopted by Shell to secure the company’s critical infrastructure, but may not have seen a demonstration or talked with a Cisco subject matter expert about it.

Cisco Live, San Diego, CA, USA

Cisco Live, San Diego, CA, USA

Well, here’s your chance. We have arranged for a booth in the industrial vertical area at the World of Solutions at Cisco Live in San Diego to show just that. We’re pleased to be accompanied by one of Cisco’s security partners to show new features and functionality that takes Secure Ops even deeper into the cybersecurity protection and surveillance arenas.

The Cybersecurity space is getting more and more alarming every day. As my colleague Peter Granger notes, we have gone from the quaint world of Sherlock Holmes…

Sherlock Holmes: I didn’t really ask, Dr. Franklyn, but what exactly do you do here?

Dr. Franklyn: Oh, Mr. Holmes, I’d love to tell you. But then of course, I’d have to kill you.

Sherlock Holmes: That would be tremendously ambitious of you.

…past the pseudo-high-tech world of James bond and closer to a more modern world reminiscent of Kiefer Sutherland’s character Jack Bauer in the TV series ’24’. Today’s Cyber attacks are not just disgruntled employees or simple mischief makers (although that’s bad enough), but can be carried out by powerful crime syndicates and hostile governments.

Now more and more attacks are becoming visible and reported (e.g. Stuxnet like ‘Havex’ malware strikes European SCADA Systems – June 2014) and whether they are a terrorist attack such as the data destruction attacks on Saudi Aramco and on Qatar’s RasGas gas company in 2012 or unintentional (the vast majority of reported cyber incidents are ‘accidental in nature’ as reported by the Repository of Industrial security incidents, 2011), billions of dollars are lost every year because of them. Night Dragon, Shamoon, Flame, and Duqu have joined Stuxnet in the past few years and more will come.

A study by Fox-IT reported that 60 percent of oil and gas companies do not have a cybersecurity incident response plan. In addition, only 11 percent are fully confident that they can address a cybersecurity breach appropriately. Twenty-three percent admitted that they are not actively monitoring their network for potential intrusions.

How can Cisco help your energy organization? You can find out more by visiting our cisco.com website, and check out the Security for Industrial Networks Overview/White Paper (don’t worry, it’s less than 3 pages!).

Security continuum #1And, of course, you can also visit us Cisco Live: there you’ll see how the Cisco Secure Ops Solution is relevant to many industries and is helping tackle our customers’ security challenges. A combination of technology, software and services expertise, Secure Ops Solution can help you increase your security response levels significantly – before, during and after an attack, across the entire attack continuum.

Don’t forget our other presence there around the Collaborative Operations Solution, which my colleague Suresh Venkat talks about here: What does a Cisco Live Demonstration have to do with droughts, floods and fossil fuels?

We look forward to seeing you in the Process Manufacturing Secure Industrial Networks booth at the World of Solutions next week.

As always – comments are always appreciated and we respond to questions!

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What does a Cisco Live Demonstration have to do with droughts, floods and fossil fuels?

In days where smartphone and staying connected have become living necessities, we forget that there are natural resources that are equally important.  In times where television, microwave, refrigeration, network connectivity have all become baseline requirement for living, we assume there will be endless supply of natural resources.

Visit us at Cisco Live 2015

Visit us at Cisco Live 2015

We are observing unprecedented droughts running throughout the world while some places are facing floods never seen before.  We are waking up to the awareness that we need to take care of earth and leave it better for our children and the upcoming generations.  Ask a kid growing up in India, my dad used to mention that fuel might not last another 40 years.  Forty years hence we have seen a lot of changes and there is no clear alternative to fossil fuel and our dependence is only increasing.

Fossil fuel is a powerful economic resource that countries are frantically looking for new resources in unexplored areas of the world.  It undoubtedly creates economic strength, jobs and ability to make difference in citizen’s lives.  The consumption of fuel is steadily increasing with increasing population.  Third world countries are bringing in a lot of additional vehicles on the road and in the process also try to move its economy upward.

As the need, dependency of fuel increases with the threat of depleting natural resources, it becomes imperative to improve efficiencies wherever and whenever possible.  It should start from exploring all the way to the end users consuming the natural resource.  To this effect, productivity and reduced down time directly means competitive edge and increased profitability which is fundamental concern across the board to enterprises.

Cisco Collaborative Operations Solution Screen Shot

Cisco Collaborative Operations Solution Screen Shot

To enable improved productivity in a process centric environment one looks for tools to enable this.  Collaborative Operations Solution from Cisco is one such tool that helps with increased productivity.  All one needs to do is see the demo and they can immediately see the value such tools can bring to their process and enable faster decision and reduce flat times.

Come see a demonstration at Cisco Live in the World of Solutions in the Process Industries section. You’ll see the Collaborative Operations Solution in action, and see how partners such as Librestream add value to the solution. In the case of Librestream you’ll see how Mobile collaboration becomes a reality, and how Librestream and Cisco are working together to provide our customers with real business value and positive business outcomes.

Read More »

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Summary: #DigitalTransformation Fueling the Need for Workforce Transformation

In case you missed it, here a summary of Karen Walker’s latest blog on the IoE Blog site that reaches out to all those in the Oil and Gas Industry:

“…we recently published a new report that shows a global oil and gas (O&G) industry awash with disruption, and primed for digital transformation. Low oil prices have upended the sector, spurring an urgent rethinking of strategy by oil and gas executives—and accelerating the adoption of IoE.”

kwalkerKaren Walker, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Cisco and interim CMO, highlights some of the key findings from the report:

“To become agile enough to compete in the IoE Era, the oil and gas workforce must possess a mix of technical skills, industry knowledge, and business acumen. With talent shortages due to massive numbers of professionals retiring over the next few years—and a lack of necessary digital skills among those who remain— O&G firms need to make bold moves to transform their workforce strategy:

  • Extend the reach of existing expertise –Video-based collaboration can help bridge the expected talent gap by making the most of professional expertise that is spread too thin, as well as providing ongoing training throughout the organization.
  • Attract digitally-savvy talent – As up to 50 percent of oil and gas workers prepare for retirement in the next five to 10 years, who will be the next generation of workers that replaces them? An earlier Cisco report showed the next wave of digital transformation will be all about capturing timely, actionable insights from the deluge of data being generated by the Internet of Things (IoT), a key enabler of IoE.
  • Bridge the silos – In addition to analytics expertise, O&G companies will need employees who can see and work across the boundaries between IT and operational technology (OT).
  • Create a culture of innovation – O&G companies don’t compete just with each other for top talent, they compete with the likes of Google and Facebook. The best and brightest data scientists and software engineers want to be on the leading edge of innovation, not mired in “the way we’ve always done it”.”

Read the full blog to find out further insights here:

#DigitalTransformation Fueling the Need for Workforce Transformation

…and, as always, let us know what you think!

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