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Advantech, Intel, ABB, and VMware Evolve Working Alliance to Streamline Electric Grid Virtualization Solutions


With industrial hardware and smart grid platforms, the new vPAC Alliance will help meet future needs of utilities at the edge of the grid

DistribuTECH 2023 | San Diego, CA – Feb.7, 2022 – Advantech, leading provider of industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and edge hardware technology, is excited to announce a working alliance among Intel, VMware, and ABB to combine technical expertise and foster collaboration on smart grid applications, such as substation virtualization and virtualized protection relay solutions. Advantech is also an active participant—joining other power and energy technology leaders and utility companies—in a new Virtual Protection Automation and Control (vPAC) Alliance to address industry challenges.

The goal of the vPAC Alliance is to help with the adoption of virtualization in substations to meet future needs of utilities at the edge of the grid. As electrical distribution legacy assets approach end-of-life and require alternatives, the expectations and size of the U.S. electric grid also continues to expand. These growing, but aging, systems require improvements and modernization in order to meet operation, service, and supply demands.

Digital solutions, such as substation virtualization, help to improve safety, security, reliability, and manageability for real-time protection and control applications in the energy space. To ease the challenges of new energy digital transformation, the virtualization alliance includes technology leaders offering varying substation digitalization solutions to meet specific customer needs, including:

“As utilities take on digital transformation, the convergence of the OT substation environment with the IT world can be challenging,” said Jeff Boger, director of energy for Advantech USA, Industrial IoT Group. “This collaboration among technology leaders helps simplify those challenges. Our goal is to streamline solutions so customers can easily create a software-defined substation and start realizing the benefits of virtualization.”

Virtualization of substation functions that run on shared, open architecture adds flexibility to operations and helps overcome limitations of previous data silos. With virtualization, data is shared between applications and systems, resulting in the following benefits:

  1. Reduced capital expenses, as less hardware is needed 
  2. Increased manageability of applications, reducing field maintenance costs 
  3. Improved system security
  4. Overall improved operations and enhanced functionality
  5. Increased flexibility, as virtualized assets can be easily reconfigured, upgraded, and relocated

Designed and built specifically for substation applications, the Advantech ECU-579 power automation server runs on Intel® Xeon® processors for high reliability and stability for substation protection and control systems. Additionally, the ECU-579 helps with scaling virtualization solutions, allowing for easy replication of virtual architecture in new and existing substations.

If utilities are still operating legacy infrastructure, they are exposed to cyber threats due to outdated systems. When utilizing Intel®-based industrial computers and servers, such as the Advantech ECU-579, users can combat emerging cyber threats with virtualization and consolidation of separate grid monitoring and control systems. Threat management is on a single platform for more secure, yet simple, cybersecurity.

Combining ABB’s SSC600 SW with merging units creates an IEC 61850-compliant centralized protection and control solution for distribution substations. The modular software can be flexibly modified for the entire lifetime of digital substations and allows SSC600 SW to change with the evolving grid. SSC600 SW builds on ABB’s solid and proven technological foundation manifested in the Relion® protection and control family of relays. The multi-application solution provides, for example, main protection for overhead lines and cable feeders in distribution networks, and can act as backup protection in applications where an independent and redundant protection system is required.

VMware provides a software platform that allows real-time workloads to run alongside virtual machines and containers; the platform enables isolation and security while maintaining performance and reliability. With VMware’s intrinsic security solutions, customers can operationalize Zero Trust across entire distributed IT environments to proactively detect and defend against emerging threats.

The vPAC Alliance drives standards-based, open, interoperable, and secure software-defined architecture to host protection, automation, and control solutions for power system substations. For more information on the vPAC Alliance, visit

For more information on Advantech power and energy solutions in combination with Intel, ABB, and VMware platforms, contact Boger, Advantech Industrial IoT Group, at