PREPARING UTILITIES FOR THE FUTURE – THE PRACTICAL WAY
The Challenge: The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system is one of the most important parts of a utility’s business because it directly supports the generation and delivery of power and system protection in its service area. It is critical that these SCADA networks continue to be highly reliable, secure, and cost effective.
Although state-of-the-art when first installed, Frame Relay, SONET and private line wire services are reaching end-of-life, services are being phased out, and they are becoming expensive to retain. Many existing SCADA networks may not support the utility’s Smart Grid initiatives. Substation automation is more complex and demanding and more devices outside the substation need communications. In addition, growing cybersecurity threats dictate more robust and secure network architectures requiring further network segmentation and redundancy.
The Solution: In response, Perspecta Labs leveraged its extensive communications network planning and design heritage with its Smart Grid operations and cybersecurity expertise to address this critical utility need. Perspecta Labs offers an unbiased equipment and vendor agnostic SCADA network assessment specifically to help a utility faced with these substantial challenges accurately determine the state of its network and its ability to meet future CIP, cybersecurity, and Smart Grid needs.
Tools and Methodologies: Perspecta Labs performs a critical assessment of the SCADA network’s architecture and design documents, assesses its performance capabilities, survivability, network management and operations structure, and cybersecurity posture against industry standard and best practices. The strengths and weaknesses of the existing systems, processes and organizations are assessed.
The assessment includes:
- Potential single points of failure,
- Adequate redundancy and network segmentation,
- Ability to efficiently failover to a backup control center,
- Operations visibility and cross-organizational responsibilities,
- Support of emerging Remote Terminal Units (RTU) functionality and increased performance to meet growing Smart Gird needs,
- Performance requirements such as bandwidth, availability, packet loss, latency, jitter, protection switching, interoperability, and
- Implementation of a utility’s security architecture policies.
Understanding the current network capabilities and its potential to support future Smart Grid needs cost-effectively gives a utility the insights to make more informed decisions as it navigates the network modernization process. It can help a utility decide whether to “rip-and-replace” or migrate and transform its network. Often the assessment involves helping a utility plan a smooth and cost effective transformation introducing new technologies.
Perspecta Labs helps utility network planners develop a systematic process to refresh their networks technology maintaining an end-to-end extensible architecture roadmap to avoid piecemeal implementations of new equipment over time.
In addition to documentation reviews, using structured onsite interviews with a utility’s internal business partners, Perspecta Labs helps develop comprehensive vetted user and organizational requirements that look at the current and future practical needs against what’s available in the marketplace now and where the market and standards are going. This helps utilities balance budgets and capital costs against functionality and operational costs.
There’s more to an efficient SCADA network than technology.
- Perspecta Labs reviews organizational roles and responsibilities for the various network segments and intelligent devices, demarcation points and how organizations work together
- What institutional knowledge exists, who holds it, and how employees access it are reviewed.
- Perspecta Labs reviews the state of network documentation and its secure availability to various organizations for planning and emergency use, and how it is updated and how inventory and configurations are maintained.
- The aggregation and integration of network management capabilities and work center visibility is considered.