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Subject: RE: [smartgrid-interest] Draft Charter - Energy Market Information Exchange

The easiest way to answer this question is to go back to an old term - FCAPS.

It's all well and good that vendors have a number of different native languages and proprietary protocols, and that's great, if you operate in a single vendor environment.  At one time, that may have been possible, but I don't believe it is today.

What seems to always be forgotten is, what happens after you've implemented and deployed all of these technologies?  There is the operational component that almost everyone tends to forget.  It's one of those things that's added after the fact (like security, for instance), which I vehemently argue against doing.

There needs to be a common framework, mechanism, protocol, etc., that give organizations the ability to manage these technologies at the enterprise level.  Whether it's IP or some other protocol, it needs to be common among all of the technologies.

FCAPS is a standard framework that both ISO and ITU-T have turned into international standards.  ISO came up with "CMIP", or Common Management Information Protocol, which is a mechanism for implementing "CMIS", or Common Management Information Services.

ITU-T has a series of "recommendations" in the X.700 series and M.3000 series (free for downloading) that should be looked at.  Another standard that has been developed, of course, is the IETF's SNMP standard, which is IP based.  If you look at SNMP, only use Version 3.  The others are essentially obsolete.  RFCs 3411, 3418 and 3584 are good references for SNMPv3.

FCAPS, by the way, stands for:

Fault Management
Capacity Management
Accounting Management
Performance Management
Security Management

FCAPS is all about metrics and the business side of things.  It is an enabler of the business to make sure that organizations are getting an effective ROI.

I realize some people will say that FCAPS is oriented only towards IT or telecommunications, but this framework contains some very good principles on the business side of the house.

Additionally, the proposed FERC Smart Grid Policy document specifically requires that all Smart Grid technologies must incorporate, at a minimum, the following Cyber Security services: These Cyber Security services enable the identification of potential impact of unauthorized use of Smart Grid devices on the bulk-power system.  This is an argument for common protocols to be used between devices.  

Best regards,

Neil Greenfield

"Michel Kohanim" <michel@universal-devices.com>

04/02/09 01:40 AM
Please respond to

RE: [smartgrid-interest] Draft Charter - Energy Market Information         Exchange

Hi Brian, I had to think about this for a day! Perhaps my statements are going to cause a heated debate, but, here I go:
I really do not see why everything has to communicate IP. What’s wrong with having devices communicate in their own native languages and over their desired (most optimal) media? What do we gain by having all devices communicate IP if – and as you (Brian) suggested – we do not first come up with the abstract model? We have a hammer?
With kind regards,
Michel Kohanim, C.E.O
Universal Devices, Inc.
(p) 818.631.0333
(f) 818.708.0755
From: Brian Frank [mailto:brian@skyfoundry.com]
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:11 AM
Re: [smartgrid-interest] Draft Charter - Energy Market Information Exchange

Couple of my thoughts since Toby cross-posted some of my oBIX ideas...

I don't suspect that many in this group need to be convinced that technologies like 6LoWPAN create the opportunity to communicate IP all the way out to the edge.  In fact, it is hard to imagine using anything but IP for communication these days - even for sub $10 devices (legacy devices excluded of course).

But just because a 6LoWPAN device speaks IP doesn't necessarily mean that it going to run a SOAP stack:
 - These are typically sub-3$ dollar microprocessors with less than 100KB of memory
 - Low end wireless networks don't run TCP well,  only UDP; this means common techniques for end-to-end security such as TLS are not available
 - Payload size on a 6LoWPAN packet is ideally less than ~80 bytes
 - 6LoWPAN nodes spend most of their time sleeping which makes communication difficult

But these are all surmountable problems if you define an information model which works well end-to-end.  Translating between protocols (HTTP-to-UDP) is pretty easy.  Translating between data encodings is also easy (XML-to-Binary).  But translating between data models is really, really hard and almost always results in a degradation of information.

So my perspective is that the most important task is define the abstract model.  Then you can apply different protocols and encoding as needed as long as everyone is working off the same basic ontology.  

This is exactly what oBIX does.  It defines a very simple, but powerful meta-model for building models.  The oBIX meta-model is based on type theory that embraces the notion that modeling the real-world is a messy and inexact science.  But it turns out to work really well for simple sensors all the way up to million point SCADA systems.


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