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Green as a Journey not a Destination

Whether you call it eating your own dog food or drinking your own Champagne, we at Cisco are lucky to have very dynamic IT and facilities teams that trial our solutions as we develop them. Going Green is no exception. We recently kicked of our project within Cisco data centers and labs to benchmark our operative efficiency in order to make practical, targeted reductions in support of a public commitment to cut our Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 25% from 2007 levels through 2012. By any measure this is aggressive in that it is an absolute reduction with no fine print…That means owned and leased properties as well as employee travel. Our rough breakdown of emissions is as follows: 1) Labs and Data Centers = ~60% 2) Employee Travel = 27% 3) Other; including refrigerants, propane, diesel for gen-sets, etc.You will notice we have an ~ sign for labs and data centers. This is because without specific instrumentation (sub-metering, branch circuit monitoring and IP-enabled power rails) there is only so much you can tell about where your power is going. You know even less about how efficiently you are using said power. The first level of analysis we can do using The Green Gird’s Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric.So how are we framing this project that allows IT and Facilities to take better control of power consumption, capacity and growth? It is more simple than you might think. If you’ve worked with a spanning tree configuration, this is a breeze! We’ve basically broken this out into “digestible” phases that build upon each other. We’re lucky to have partnerships in some key areas to help us through it and a programmatic methodology through our Efficiency Assurance Program (EAP). Basically here is how we are approaching it today: 1) Establish electrical efficiency benchmarks for a pilot site including IT asset and system utilization (i.e. what is our server CPU utilization, some figures suggest the US average is ~20%) 2) Assign a balanced scoring to the pilot site that balances efficiency with risk and cost 3) Asses the IT and facilities architecture(s) to identify and prioritize improvements to net capacity, efficiency expressed as a percentage and growth projections 4) Develop new Standard Operating Environment (SOE) guidelines at the room, row and rack level 5) Develop new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) focusing on operative efficiency like regular IT asset utilization audits 6) Document it all in one place with the ability for users to easily make changes on the fly but governed by committee (Change Advisory Board as an example) 7) Assess the viability to scale the pilot across Cisco’s 52 data centers world wide (most of those are development data centers, lab/DC hybrids)What is clear up front is that there is no silver bullet for Green. Rather we are focused on taking a blended approach towards efficiency with all leading not bleeding edge technologies on the table. Virtualization is of course a front runner but we recognize that it has a big impact on our facilities as well. Improved collaboration experience to reduce employee travel like Telepresence is a great technology but if we didn’t address human travel habits through our booking systems we might be traveling just as much and using Telepresence on top of that. The list goes on but suffice to say, this is one of those areas where the often overused term of “holistic” really does apply. I talk a bit more about this on our upcoming Techwise TV event, airing August 21st. If interested you can register at www.cisco.com/go/efficiencySo how did we even get to this point? Over the last 18 months we’ve developed cross functional teams made up of what were in many cases people who had a personal interest in making their company a deeper shade of Green (one of those people happens to be our CEO). Lucky for us these folks also have strong business acumen and we’ve been able to sell the business case for doing this internally. This is where our Green Data Center Model Calculator was born from also found in the EAP.We will be making sure to share our progress within Cisco IT on how our Green journey is progressing. Drop us a note with any insight you might have to how this is ramping up at your company (even the political organizational stuff which we all know happens).Thanks for reading.

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2 Comments.


  1. Please, oh please, get your green folks on the shipping department.I just finished getting rid of a small forest worth of shipping material that was used to send some PAK slips (which contain a single text string that ends up getting typed into a web page on CCO that generates an email with the licence file!). And the boxes that are used to ship the boxes used to ship the LC GBICs. And the vastly oversized boxes used to ship the cameras, which are consolidated into larger boxes that are sized such that half the space is wasted and filled with air bags.The packaging on the phones are pretty good now though, I’ll hand it to you guys there.

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  2. Rob Aldrich

    Thanks for the input Sean, I have forwarded your comments over to our product teams who look at this. The good news is we already have a team looking at packaging and supply chain so this should be an easy fix.Thanks again!

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