The initial indication came from the company’s Q4 webinar, but there was more in a blog from Laura Ipsen, Senior VP in Cisco’s Smart Grid business:
“Over the past two years the home and building energy management markets have evolved in such a way that we believe we can provide more value to our customers and the industry by enabling interoperability through our core networking products and solutions (for example, EnergyWise) as part of our integrated architecture within the broader smart grid effort.
For building energy management, this means we are actively pursuing several strategic options for Cisco’s Network Building Mediator and Mediator Manager product line, with an emphasis on minimizing the impact on current customers, partners and employees. For energy management in the home, we will transition our focus from creating premise energy management devices to using the network as the platform for supporting innovative applications and architectures that will improve our customers’ value proposition in the consumer energy management market”.
Cisco has had an end-to-end approach to smart grids through its Connected Grid, with Home Energy Management one of the building blocks. There were a number of announcements a year or so ago, including a touch-screen display and energy management software for monitoring and controlling energy use. The device connected to smart meters, with Ethernet and wifi connectivity for a home network.
Cisco withdrawing from this market is less of a surprise than Microsoft and Google. Cisco is well placed to provide the network and connectivity capabilities across the smart grid infrastructure, but building and home energy management requirements are a more specialist area and clearly not core business for the company.
Home energy management is going to be a significant green IT market in the long term, but for the moment it’s fragmented and immature. That’s likely to be the case until smart meter/smart grid technology is more settled, but already there are lots of specialist companies offering a range of solutions.
I suspect Microsoft and Google will re-enter the market through acquisition, when the dust has settled, but it doesn’t really make much sense for Cisco to be there at all, except to provide the connectivity.