Lippis Report 159: Cisco’s Borderless Green Network Service

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A Comprehensive Approach to Corporate and Government Energy Cost Savings and Carbon Reduction

Being green is increasingly being forced upon IT business leaders from their management, government regulations and societal pressures. Ask a recent college grad what is the number one societal contribution they would like to make with their career and the answer is “make the world greener.” The workforce is changing worldwide with a sense of personal and corporate social responsibility to reduce carbon emissions, and choose sustainable materials and processes to power our lives and deliver products and services. And being green is no longer a luxury that IT leaders can choose as governments, boards of directors and presidential directives issue mandates forcing energy efficiency upon IT executives.

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From an IT perspective, much work has been done to reduce data center energy consumption and cooling by virtualizing servers and consolidating data centers. In addition, IT vendors continually work to deliver products with increased feature sets that consume less energy. But one company in particular has taken its core competency and found a way to not only make its own products more energy efficient but everything its products touch, too. That company is Cisco Systems.

A Broader View of Energy Management

Cisco is providing tools and knowledge to IT business leaders to assist them in complying with energy efficiency mandates. And while much attention has been focused on data center energy reduction, a much larger target for energy conservation is IT and non-IT energy consuming assets that are sprawled throughout enterprise and government facilities—this means networks, personal computers, printers, lighting, HVAC, etc. But in addition to energy management of electrical device sprawl, energy consumption can also be avoided by using communication and collaboration tools such as Webex, virtual office teleworking and TelePresence. These collaboration tools allow users to work at home and engage in meetings over the web or via high definition videoconferencing versus traveling, thus avoiding dollar and carbon emission cost of travel. These concepts and initiatives are part of Cisco’s Borderless Networks Green service, one of the key network services within Cisco’s Borderless Networks Architecture.

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The key concept of Cisco’s Borderless Networks Architecture is the removal of boundaries or borders that create common trade-offs and compromises IT business leaders and users have come to despise. Cisco’s Borderless Networks Architecture is comprised of five pillars that enable borderless connections of anyone, anytime, anywhere and from any device securely, reliably and seamlessly: 1) Mobility through the Motion service, 2) Green or enabling energy cost savings and carbon reduction through EnergyWise, 3) integrated network Security via TrustSec, 4) Application Performance to increase network and application agility, visibility and control with Application Velocity Network Service and 5) Video/Voice services to offer the best possible video experiences to users via the Medianet technologies. These borderless network services are delivered by core infrastructure including switching, routing, security, wireless and wide area application services (WAAS) infrastructure products. It’s the integration of these services into existing network infrastructure and their control via policy and management that enables a borderless experience to occur. In short, a borderless network eliminates friction points and user plus operational frustration associated with common IT use cases such as application access from desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc. For example, the Borderless Networks Green service enables IT executives to reduce their carbon emissions, save on energy costs, transform their business while satisfying increased IT demand. In this Lippis Report Research Note, I focus on the Borderless Networks Green service as it offers a comprehensive approach to energy management.

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Borderless Networks Green Service

There are three main drivers why organizations are looking for ways to be greener—those being cost reduction, sustainability mandates and corporate responsibility. Being a green, socially-responsible organization improves corporate image, which is usually accompanied by increased revenue opportunities. And many companies are in search for effective ways to achieve operational cost savings through green IT practices, especially during the past three years given economic conditions. That is why corporate executives seek to enhance their firms’ image/brand and comply with energy reduction mandates while reducing operational costs, all through green initiatives.

To help customers achieve their green goals, Cisco’s Borderless Networks Green service exploits the network as a platform to extend green borders. This is done in three ways: 1) transform the workforce by making it more flexible with collaboration applications such as TelePresence, Webex, Virtual Office, etc., 2) enable energy cost savings with innovations such as EnergyWise that measures and manages energy usage, and 3) improve network efficiency through virtualization, consolidation plus product and system life-cycle management. As Cisco EnergyWise is a fundamental and unique green enabler, we focus on this technology first.

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Cisco EnergyWise is a system-wide framework for energy management that is integrated into Cisco Catalyst switches, routers and building controllers. Every device that connects into the network can eventually have its energy managed, monitored and optimized by Cisco EnergyWise. This concept of using the network as a system to coordinate activities which provide benefits that aren’t available from a single device is a key principle of the Cisco’s Borderless Networks Architecture. EnergyWise delivers on this principle by adding energy management to Cisco’s Borderless Networks services.

Cisco EnergyWise

Cisco EnergyWise is being released in phases. The first phase was launched in January, 2009, and focused on reducing energy usage of Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices. These devices include IP phones, wireless access points, security cameras, etc. The second phase, launched in March, 2010, added the ability to control PC and laptop power. PC and laptop power control is accomplished with a product called Cisco EnergyWise Orchestrator. Orchestrator is a client-server architecture designed to scale up for large organizations. A small software client runs on each PC, collects energy usage information and allows Cisco EnergyWise Orchestrator to distribute centrally-managed, time-based energy policies to each workstation such as shut down after 6:00 p.m. and power up after 8:00 a.m. In addition, EnergyWise Orchestrator can request “on-demand” power reductions. EnergyWise Orchestrator also receives power usage statistics from PCs distributed throughout an enterprise or government facilities, which can be aggregated and displayed in different variations via its sustainability dashboard. As PCs and laptops are sprawled throughout enterprise and government facilities, Cisco EnergyWise Orchestrator is able to manage up to 60% of power used by IT devices, thus the impact of Cisco’s energy management solution is material.

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Cisco is extending the reach of EnergyWise to control power of more IT and non-IT devices. The EnergyWise framework includes open APIs that enable an ecosystem of partners to offer comprehensive energy management solutions to meet customer needs of all kinds. For example, recently Cisco announced partners that allow EnergyWise to manage Smart Power Distribution Units from Schneider APC, WTI (Western Telematic, Inc.), Server Technology, Raritan and CyberSwitching. These partnerships extend energy monitoring and reporting to data centers, and expand energy management capabilities to clientless devices like printers, copy machines and digital media displays. .

Business Transformation Applications that Reduce Energy Consumption

While most, if not all, networking concerns stress energy efficiency of their products, Cisco’s Borderless Networks Green service takes this to an entirely different level through energy efficient collaboration applications that transform how corporations conduct business. Collaboration applications, such as Cisco’s WebEx, TelePresence and Virtual Office, reduce travel needs and improve productivity while achieving great in-person work experiences. Underneath these collaboration applications is Cisco’s Borderless Networks infrastructure that ensures security, availability and performance of these business applications with services such as Medianet and Cisco TrustSec.

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Product Power Efficiency Gains

Cisco’s Borderless Networks Green service addresses reduced energy consumption of IT assets, such as PCs, laptops, PoE devices, and networking equipment such as routers and switches, plus collaborative applications. And while offering this broad view and tool set for IT business leaders to manage energy policy, Cisco has not taken its eye off the ball of engineering innovations and improvements in network products to ensure energy efficiency. For example, StackPower is a new innovation for the Cisco Catalyst fixed switching products that distribute power across a stack of switches in a unique and efficient way. Further, Cisco recently introduced a 48-port switch that consumes only 40 watts of power…that’s less power consumption than most light bulbs.

Virtualized Data Center Infrastructure Delivers Energy and Resource Efficiency

In addition to EnergyWise, product energy improvements and collaborative applications, Cisco’s Borderless Networks Green service extends green initiatives to the data center too via virtualization. Data center consolidation and server virtualization are solutions that help IT business leaders maximize the usage of existing resources while contributing to data center efficiency. These solutions include VMware and Cisco’s UCS (Unified Computer System). In addition to server virtualization, firewall and WAAS services have become virtualized as well as bandwidth via Storage Area Networking. Desktops too are being virtualized. All of these initiatives contribute to reduced footprint for rack space, cabling and HVAC requirements. Less power is consumed while the data center is more efficient with improved operations, thanks to more flexible use of resources and bandwidth.

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The benefits of Borderless Networks Green service are workforce flexibility and improved productivity, energy cost savings and network efficiency. While some of these improvements are difficult to measure, there are solid ROI examples. GE, for example—a Fortune 500 company that adopted Cisco’s TelePresence—reduced its travel and lodging expenses by 40% while reducing executive management wear and tear. Parque Escolar works with the Portugal Ministry of Education and was able to reduce Portugal schools’ energy consumption by more than 33% by implementing Cisco EnergyWise Orchestrator. Brunel University is saving $143,908 per year thanks to energy control of power usage through EnergyWise.

Cisco’s Borderless Networks Green service offers a range of options to manage corporate and government energy consumption, and the value/cost savings that EnergyWise brings to IT business leaders today will continue to multiply as Cisco delivers more platforms and partner devices that can be monitored and managed from centralized management applications such as Cisco EnergyWise Orchestrator or LMS. While IT executives are implementing virtualization and collaboration applications based upon their own merit, much can be gained by viewing these IT projects through a green prism. For it’s the totality of device energy management along with business transformation collaborative applications and virtualization that may very well define a modern green business.

One Response to Lippis Report 159: Cisco’s Borderless Green Network Service

  1. Nick Lippis said:

    Lippis Report 159: Cisco’s Borderless Green Network Service http://bit.ly/9BYIuz

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