Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This could be the start of something...

You may have already seen the press release, or the analysis by my compadre over at ThinkSmartGrid, but I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to talk a bit about what a consortium on SEP 2.0 certification means, and what it doesn't.

First off, the press release notes that the consortium is specifically aimed at SEP 2.0 over IP (Internet Protocol.)  Any other flavor of SEP, particularly ZSE is still a "walled garden," with most of the world on the outside.  That being said, it is at least a glimmer of hope for devices that use IP in one of its many forms.  But it may only be a glimmer...

The press release talks about a "joint certification and test program," but not a unified certification.  In, fact it specifically states that the consortium's work will "enable organizations ... to certify SEP 2 according to a consistent test plan."  Note the plural there.  Multiple organizations providing SEP 2.0 over IP certification.  A vendor may still have to chase down certifications from multiple certification houses in order to carry the proper imprimatur(s), unless this consortium can agree on a common and mutually recognized outcome of certification.

So, what good is it?

First, members of the various Alliances in the consortium may be able to be "SEP over IP" certified by their "home" alliance, without having to subject their designs and devices to the scrutiny of people beholden to a "foreign" alliance.

Second, a consistent test plan may mean that a manufacturer will presumably be able to develop a system that meets that test suite and be confident that it will pass regardless of which organization is doing the testing.

It may do a lot for the use of IP in Smart Grid, which may do a lot for making consumer-side devices available, since so many consumer-side devices already "do" IP in some form.

It could even lead to some genuine interoperability, and/or advance the development of "gateway" devices that speak IP over different physical layer protocols.

What might this mean for regulators?  It may mean that there will be fewer different protocols standards and variations on a theme to keep track of when companies start making proposals or consumers start trying to figure out what devices they need to get something useful from a "smarter grid."

Will it mean any or all of these things?  That remains to be seen.

Just because these guys are all standing in the same room doesn't mean it isn't for a pissing contest.

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