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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 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.

We Have a Winner

August 7, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

So Brian Cantor won my little uptime contest. Brian dug up a C5K that has been up for over 3,450 days. Brian says

“I work for an insurance company and this particular switch serves as an access switch in one of our call centers. It has mostly end users but there are some printers and a couple of servers. As far as I can tell, this switch has been chugging away since before the new millennium.”

Congrats Brian--fleece en route.Omar

The Google Service Oriented Virtualized Cloud as a Service

This post is really a test of title/hype versus content. My personal bet is that because of this title coagulating every term that is riding the hype cycle at warp speed it will become my most clicked through post yet. Anyone taking that bet?As for some useful content- here are a few of our more commented posts or other things I liked that I saw recently…Virtualization 2.0 -- Data Center KnowledgeMy Thoughts on Where Cloud Computing May GoI also liked James and Sam’s discourse on What is a Cloud? Anyhow, I’ll post back up in a couple weeks and see if my guess is right….dg

More Like “The Color of Money”

In a recent post, Chris Mellor articulates what the impact of FCoE might be on the storage world. How storage switch manufacturers will have to retool their switches to support converged architectures and operating systems. How HBA vendors will have to now create a value proposition competing against entrenched Ethernet NIC vendors and especially how storage vendors will have to add native FCoE capability to their arrays and drives. And of course all this could have an impact to how iSCSI performs in the market as well.While I do agree with most of this assessment, I don’t agree with his conclusion. The fact is whenever there has been a battle between Ethernet and another network transport protocol, Ethernet has always won. Why should this time be any different? Fibre Channel is an excellent storage transport protocol but it is not ideal for a generalized transport of multiple data types. Ethernet has been doing this for some time and transporting storage will be the same as for any other upper layer application. Of course, Ethernet will have to evolve as it always has and Data Center Ethernet will offer the lossless and guaranteed delivery that Fibre Channel has today.Of course vendors like Cisco and QLogic are embracing FCoE as it delivers what customers have been asking for, a common transport for all of their of data. They realize that the data center is being virtualized and servers, storage, and networks have to work together to tackle the challenges that are in front of them.But these aren’t the only ones that see the opportunity of re-architecting the data center to support a virtualized infrastructure. Intel, Emulex, NetApp, and EMC are also supporting this effort as it allows them all to reach a much larger customer base than before.As our CEO likes to say, there’s an inflection point happening in the data center and those who are in front of it and ready to capitalize on it will definitely see “The Color of Money.”

Beijing Olympics 2008: Connecting the World

The Olympics gives the world two weeks to pause and marvel at athletes who shine brightly with their intense dedication to the pursuit of excellence, spurred by fierce competition. It’s worth taking a few minutes to note the results of equally intense dedication to televising the Games (also under intense and relentless market competition) with the most innovative technology, bringing the excitement, the drama, and the incredible achievement of the Olympics to as many people as possible. NBC Universal is making broadcasting history this week by presenting 3600 hours of coverage from Beijing, more than the combined hours of all previous summer Olympics Games. Viewers of the 2008 Olympic Games will be able to use their PCs and laptops to access 2,200 hours of video that they can play back on demand, as well as 3,000 hours of highlights, rewinds, and encores. People will also be able to watch video and view results on their smartphones.With all that video to transmit, NBC has selected Cisco to provide IP video network infrastructure and video encoding solutions to NBC during the network’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, including one of Cisco’s Data Center technologies: Wide Area Application Services (WAAS). Rather than sending 400 video shot selectors and editors to Beijing, NBC will be using Cisco WAAS for WAN optimization and application acceleration between Beijing, New York and Los Angeles. By optimizing 35Mbps links into 140Mbps links, Cisco WAAS allows editors and shot selectors to access gigabyte-sized video files over the WAN with the same performance as if they were stored locally. This reduces operating costs of housing, air travel, transportation, and food. Avoiding 800 airplane trips also supports NBC’s green initiatives for the Olympic Games.To transmit video to its studios, NBC has deployed three 155Mbps OC-3 pipes between Beijing and New York. A Cisco 12004/4 Router collapses all three into one virtual pipe using equal cost load balancing. The types of traffic on the network range from video content and IP telephony to teleprompter content and event scoring. Cisco WAAS leverages rather than overwrites router QoS, giving NBC the confidence to dedicate 400Mbps to video, unlike tunnel-based architectures. So sit back, enjoy the Olympic Games this year wherever you happen to be at any given moment. Employers around the world are already anticipating lost productivity due to the video accessibility of the Games, and wondering how their internal networks are going to handle the increased load. I’ll be dutifully watching my favorite events, largely the track and field ones, while my friend Feng who wrote most/all of this posting goes for synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.