Enable – Differentiate – Define.

This is the message Cisco brought to DistribuTECH 2017, and as the utility industry experiences their own Digital Business Transformation, the Digital Vortex draws them ever closer to the whirlwind. With new technologies and capabilities emerging almost daily, the communications backbone became the focal point of this year’s event.

Attendance was up substantially this year, as were the number of visitors to our booth with representatives not only from the Americas, but from as far away as the Middle East and Asia. We saw keen interest this year on the analyst and media side, with our own Todd Gurela, Global Director of our Energy and Transportation sector, taping an interview with Pennwell that will be broadcast across their media outlets in the coming weeks.

Peering at the conference tracks, the industry has turned a corner. The pendulum has begun to swing in the consumer’s direction, with advancements in customer service technologies such as online outage mapping and service timing estimates.

Communications overall has taken the lead, with tracks offered in enterprise grid management, Internet of Things strategies, data analytics, mobile solutions, and automation for both the substation and distribution networks. Microgrid technology is making its presence known, and Smart Cities are becoming a prime topic of interest.

If you’re seeing a common thread here, you’re right. The communications network has become the center of attention, the pivot about which all things now turn.

In the Cisco booth, we brought the combined infrastructure to enable these technologies. With a full offering for MPLS and Teleprotection through our ASR900 series devices, we offer a powerful backbone upon which to build utility networks. Cisco connects the entire system, from the Operations and Data Centers, to the distribution and substation layer, all the way to the customer’s point of service. And we wrap the entire network with a wide offering of physical and cyber security products to ensure the full enterprise is locked down, and compliant to the latest NERC CIP regulations.

Our partners were a big part of our demonstrations. Advanced Metering Infrastructure is becoming a critical component of the Digital Grid, and we are happy to work with strategic partners like Itron, IUSA, WEG, and Eaton. Many of our Validated Industry Partners were well-represented in our booth as well, including GE, RAD, Schneider, Siemens, and Intel.

DistribuTECH 2017 was a fantastic kickoff to the new year, and gave the industry a window into the expanded Digital Grid and the potential it holds for our future.

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