Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Cisco buys Arch Rock in smart-grid push

Networking giant to augment its IP-based communications tech with planned purchase of start-up Arch Rock, which makes wireless sensors for buildings, data centers, and utility networks.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read
Arch Rock wireless communications architecture
The architecture of Arch Rock's wireless communications for utility networks. Arch Rock

Cisco Systems on Thursday said it intends to acquire wireless sensor maker Arch Rock, a move that beefs up Cisco's smart-grid and data center businesses.

San Francisco-based Arch Rock makes a system for collecting information from mesh networks of IP-based wireless sensors, routers, and servers. Its sensors are placed in data centers and buildings to monitor heat and other environmental conditions to optimize cooling and improve the overall energy efficiency.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Privately held Arch Rock is also developing wireless communications for utilities called Phy-Net Grid. The system is designed to use Arch Rock's radio-based sensors to shuttle information over utilities' networks back to their data centers. The wireless communications can also be embedded within thermostats and home energy controllers, which Cisco makes.

Cisco said it intends to use Arch Rock's IPv6-based wireless sensors as part of its smart-grid product set. "This acquisition further positions Cisco as a strategic partner to utilities," Laura Ipsen, general manager of Cisco's Smart Grid business unit, said in a statement.

Although Arch Rock is a small company, the technology could play a significant role in Cisco's overall smart-grid strategy, providing the hardware to connect grid equipment, such as smart meters and sensors on transmission lines, over utilities' networks. Cisco has already developed routers and switches to send data from utility substations.

On Wednesday, Cisco announced a deal with meter maker Itron to develop communications products that use the Internet Protocol, rather than proprietary protocols for sending information from meters back to utilities. The deal calls for Itron to embed Cisco's IP networking in its meters and neighborhood networks.