The First Software-Defined Network for Critical Infrastructure Goes Live

Dispersive Technologies has launched its new Internet-based, software-defined network for use by California's energy grid operator. The now live SDN based network will enable the efficient and effective connecting of entities using real-time devices to the grid's energy management system.

Humboldt Redwood Company, owner of a 28.8 megawatt biomass power plant, became the first operator to be brought online with the network. The unit will generate steam and electricity by annually burning approximately 250,000 bone-dry tons of wood waste from the company's sawmill and planer mill in Scotia, California.

The new network, developed and operated by Dispersive Technologies is being used by the California Independent System Operator (ISO) to connect capacity generation assets to its control system.

Most network services until now used to securely transport SCADA data depend on technologies almost 20 years old. They're slow to deploy, costly to operate, limited in their flexibility to support diverse user groups, and challenging to scale. As a result, these traditional private networks and VPNs no longer represent best practices for protecting data-in-motion. Dispersive CISDN (Critical Infrastructure Software-Defined Network) addresses those problems. It offers various parties - regional balancing authorities, utilities, independent power producers, and service companies supporting the power industry - the ability to establish secure virtual network connections to any resource by using any available local Internet access.

Pacific Power Engineers, a Dispersive Technologies' partner which helped install the network, anticipates more power plants will eventually convert to Dispersive CISDN. Since it requires only a standard broadband connection to the public Internet, it's much easier and less expensive to install than other networks. A utility or cogeneration plant can deploy it in days rather than weeks. And the network's integrated firewall protects field assets and assures highly secure communications.

The Dispersive CISDN provides the California ISO with additional capability to secure direct telemetry from generating assets within its service area. The California ISO is also exploring possibilities to include metering and ICCP data streams.