In power utility substations, communications failure is not an option. IEC 61850 and IEEE 1613 provide comprehensive requirements for equipment capabilities in a hostile environment as well as advanced technologies to improve substation automation. The IEC 61850 model advances the global standard for all substation communications needs, and, transport mechanism for this global standard is Ethernet.

The 61850 standards still seem to provide the best roadmap to future-proof substation communications network deployments, but, for the foreseeable future, networking strategies must still provide for combining the new with the old. "Hybrid" substation networking strategies will be the norm for some time to come. In-place serial IEDs will need to coexist with and be complemented by new networking equipment.

In migrating to a substation network of the future, three aspects must be considered:

1) Reliable IED to-IP connectivity, whether serial or Ethernet,

2) Assured bandwidth to the IP infrastructure

3) A network security plan that will protect both serial and Ethernet IP intelligent end        devices.

As always, these hybrid solutions must also accommodate the tight real-time latency requirements always present in power utility communications.

In order to preserve the legacy equipment investment, options including adding more computers to act as small SCADA masters OR integrating terminal servers to perform the serial-to-Ethernet translation will need to be examined.

To learn more and read the full Belden white paper on the subject, "How to Implement High-availability IP Networks while Leveraging Legacy Infrastructure in the Substation," click here.

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