SEL Completes On-Site Testing of First Substation Software-Defined Network

SEL Completes On-Site Testing of First Substation Software-Defined Network

To meet the needs of both operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) networks, SDN is emerging as a superior solution.

Using the Ameren Illinois Technology Applications Center (TAC) smart grid testbed, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) has successfully completed on-site testing of its new software-defined networking (SDN) technology.

To meet the needs of both operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) networks, SDN is emerging as a superior solution.  Through the OpenFlow specification, SEL is using SDN to enhance the performance, configuration and management of proactive OT and dynamic IT networks.

At the Ameren facility in Champaign, Illinois, Engineers from Ameren, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), University of Illinois and SEL met in late February, to perform validation tests on the SEL-2740S and SEL-5056. By providing centralized traffic engineering, the SEL-2740S Software-Defined Network Switch and SEL-5056 SDN Flow Controller give IT and OT network engineers path- and packet-level control of their communications flows.  With sub-100 µs healing times, deny-by-default security, a –40C to +85C operating range, and OT-optimized designs, the SEL-2740S and SEL-5056 provide unique capabilities that will change the way Ethernet is used for mission-critical applications.

The validation testing focused on three main areas: cybersecurity, performance testing and operational integration. The performance testing results exceeded expectations. With less than 100 µs healing times, link failures went unnoticed by applications. The event report collection saw zero packets dropped even when there was a link break during the report collection.  

“We successfully executed all test steps in our test plan, and it went so smoothly we were able to finish early,” explains Rhett Smith, SEL senior product manager. “The performance increase over traditional Ethernet is amazing to measure, and the cybersecurity attributes of the whitelisted flows of communication made the Ameren network engineers excited about what is now possible.”
 

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