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Crystal Group Advances Energy Modernization With VMware Validated Solutions

Crystal Group, Inc., a leading designer and manufacturer of rugged computer and electronic hardware, announced today its first VMware-validated configuration of virtualization-enabled servers. As part of the Crystal Group Energy Series product line, the CMS-01171 is the first iteration of the ES373S17 substation server. This software-agnostic, hyperconverged system combines real-time automation, remote management, cybersecurity, auto failover, and zero-trust security features for utilities as they pursue significant power grid modernization efforts.

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“Updating substations with a holistic, software-defined control system will deliver significant benefits now and over the long term to both utilities and their customers”

In collaboration with Intel and VMware, Crystal Group developed its VMware Validated Solution to consolidate the work of multiple discrete hardware solutions into a single, hyperconverged system. Virtualization greatly reduces the overall substation control footprint and infrastructure requirements while maximizing both physical and cyber protections. Integrating validated hardware and software—based on open standards—gives utilities a comprehensive, ready-now solution that supports and simplifies their current and evolving development needs, including virtual protection relay applications.

“Updating substations with a holistic, software-defined control system will deliver significant benefits now and over the long term to both utilities and their customers,” said Kathy Willett, program manager at Crystal Group. “With the ability to monitor and manage substation performance in real time, utilities can make system adjustments or issue critical updates on demand to one or several sites from a centralized location. This saves valuable time, resources and costs, while keeping power generation, transmission and distribution flowing smoothly and without interruption.”

“Combining proven Crystal Group rugged hardware with VMware Edge Compute Stack establishes a rugged, highly reliable, and secure hyperconverged edge platform capable of supporting real-time virtual machines and containers. As utilities work to modernize the U.S. Smart Grid, they now have an edge compute platform that can serve as the foundation of all substation workloads including Virtual Protection Relay software,” said Muneyb Minhazuddin, vice president of Edge Computing at VMware.

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Equipped with a VMware Edge Compute Stack and single or dual 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with hardware-enhanced security technologies, this IEC 61850-3-certified server includes critical cyber protections, including data-at-rest encryption, total memory encryption, software guard extensions and software-defined networking. Intrusion detection services and stateful packet inspection firewalls monitor traffic between virtual servers to identify and prevent cyberattacks. In the event of a failed server, VMware Edge Compute Stack automatically migrates the workload of that server over to other servers without disruption. Crystal Group will feature the new system in booth #735 at DISTRIBUTECH International 2022 in Dallas, Texas.

“Faced with unprecedented levels of demand, intensifying cyber threats, and integrating renewable resources while maintaining affordability, utilities need smart, multi-faceted technology solutions that enable them to do more—and to do it better—with less, and that’s exactly what this VMware Validated Solution does.” said Willett.

As part of the Crystal Group Energy Series (ES) product line, the substation solution delivers reliable power and performance in a rugged chassis built and tested to withstand the intense conditions—such as extreme temperatures, weather conditions, moisture, electromagnetic interference, power transients, and dust—inherent to remote locations. Additional ES servers and embedded computers will feature Crystal Group’s industrial design standards for intelligent, virtualization platforms that provide long, in-field operational life, seamless operation and reliable accuracy inherent to all Crystal Group solutions.

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