SATURN 2010: Notes from Wayne Longcore’s Keynote

Wayne Longcore, Managing Scale and Agility: Transformational Architecture for the Smart Grid

North American power grid is an ultra-large-scale (ULS) system. Cisco has said that it believes the Smart Grid will be 1000 times larger than today’s internet. When the electric grid went down in 2003, society was disrupted. The power grid must be adaptable. One of the defining characteristics of ULS systems is that, while pieces of the system might fail at times, the system as a whole must remain operational.

“I didn’t know the SEI term ULS system then, but I’d have used it had I known it.”


Smart Grid: Every device that uses and produces power. One big electro-mechanical machine across North American continent. Smart Grid’s vision is to provide quality power for the digital economy enabling active participation by consumers.

Department of Energy (DOE): Smart Grid will

  • enable active participation by consumers
  • accommodate all generation and storage options
  • enable new products, services, and markets
  • provide power quality for digital economy
  • optimize asset allocation and operate efficiently
  • anticipate and respond to system disturbances (self-heal)
  • operate resiliently agains attack and natural disaster

Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 established that NIST would have primary responsibility to develop framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management, to achieve interoperability of Smart Grid devices and systems.

The Smart Grid will accommodate billions of devices interacting in a cohesive ecosystem.

The Smart Grid has many interacting elements that contributes to its complexity. In energy transmission, we need more control, protection, stabilization, optimization. In energy distribution, we need more control, protection, etc. The customer environment is the most complex element. Consumers are driven by laziness and comfort. We can now imagine, for example, cars that could fill themselves with fuel based on availability and cost. Other elements contributing to complexity are complex operations, markets, and service providers.


For it all to work together, we need to know how to validate

  • real-world end-to-end integration
  • integration with many vendors
  • usability and simplicity
  • real-world security

in the face of

  • 3100+ utilities
  • many regulatory, ISO, and RTO models
  • retail, wholesale, regulated, and deregulated models
  • commercial, industrial, and residential models
  • need for standards and interoperability

One of many challenges is the challenge of building something at this scale and complexity in an environment of competing and often incompatible self-interests. The Gridwise Architecture Council (GWAC) is looking at a model for organizational, informational, and technical interoperability. Part of this is thinking about more than data management:

Data management –> Information Management –> Intelligent Enterprise –> Intelligent Energy Ecosystem

Evolving vision: an engineered ecosystem of the future, an internet of things talking together about sale of commodity and delivery of information, using thousands of standards used as a cohesive program, buiding a language for the energy ecosystem. The foundation for an unknown future. Vendors, utilities, standards development organizations are coming together in an ecosystem test lab.

It is impossible to predict what is coming in SmartGrid in the home. No one predicted the cell phone and what it would be.

Longcore’s Law:

  • Firmware in new devices grows and firmware in new devices that have connectivity and security requirements grows exponentially.
  • Networks must be sized to deliver upgrades over their lifespan.

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