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Terminal servers play essential role in smart grids

By Donna Donnawitz
February 28, 2013

Most of us don't remember being a toddler, but I remember what it was like to help people babysit when I was only 6 or 7. Of course, I was really being babysat and made to think I was helping, but still, I remember. At the time, I was extremely amused by how simple, but fun, toddler toys actually were. Especially the color-shape matching box. I was one of those kids that was always trying to see if the red star would fit into the slot for the blue cube. I didn't want to just match the shapes properly, I wanted to beat the system.

In a way, utility providers have to do the same thing, but instead of colored shapes they have highly specialized power management technologies and transformer units that have to be interconnected within the smart grid. Compatibility is a major problem with smart grid systems and terminal server systems are the answer.

Understanding the smart grid compatibility issue
Smart grid can't function without Ethernet. There is no way around it at this point. For asmart grid to function it will depend on much of the telecom infrastructure that is already in place, or at least on the utility polls that are already being used. Furthermore, the smart grid is somewhat useless if utility providers are only able to use it within small areas. The microgrid has potential, but only as an evolution of smart grid technology or for internal use. The core grid structure still has to be in place. But if you try to build a big serial network that stretches through towns, connects homes and reaches utility infrastructure you will find yourself with an extremely expensive network. Ethernet is the answer. It providers cost-effective data transmission and a lot of the infrastructure is in place, especially if utility providers can work in partnership with telecoms.

This presents a bit of a problem because most utility-specific technologies run on serial. Ethernet and serial don't mix. You can't just stick an RJ45 connector on a serial-based system and expect to plug it into an Ethernet network. As a result, serial to Ethernet terminal servers are absolutely essential to making smart grid work. Terminal servers provide the hardware necessary to get the red star of Ethernet systems to fit into the space for the blue cube of serial serial systems.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyber​assets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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