According to studies, the primary reasons why organizations update their networks are (in no particular order) systems obsolescence; service shortcomings; cost containment; business shifts, and strengthen security. Many organizations cite all of these reasons for driving network refresh efforts. Some may only cite a few or even a single one as driving their network update. With rising energy costs, business reputations at stake, and increased regulatory activity, it’s high time to consider adding “improved environmental stance” to this list of primary reasons to update your network. Let’s consider some increasingly important evaluation criteria that drive sustainability gains, as well as business benefits. Older networking devices use more power across numerous work measurements — i.e., traffic throughput, connection speeds, interface density, and services delivered. Newer devices leverage components (e.g., power supplies, ASICs) and services (e.g., enhanced PoE, intelligent power management) that increase the energy efficiency of not only the networking device itself, but also connected devices such as IP phones, WLAN access points, and security devices. Also, newer devices, through service integration, also help reduce the number of networking devices requiring power, cooling, and space. A networking device providing for added security, wireless, voice, and application networking services simply eliminates the need for standalone devices performing the same function. And beyond service integration, newer networking devices are also able to provide for a whole new set of services that drive high-impact IT-driven Green practices — e.g., virtualization, remote collaboration, and energy/resource management (e.g., Cisco EnergyWise). And that’s the basics when it comes to considering Green factors in updating your network. Just as you examine higher capacity networking devices for their potential to support more users and more connections, you should also look at these same devices for their potential to help you achieve your organization’s Green goals. Moving to devices that offer increased performance, availability, and service capabilities drives even greater Green contributions than those offering basic connectivity and traffic movement. For example, the integrated unified communications and video delivery capabilities of a remote branch routing system will boost remote worker effectiveness and efficiency. With such a multi-service routing system in place, as-needed remote collaboration and on-demand video training become part of normal branch operations. The same “upgrade” arguments can be made for higher-capacity, service-rich switching systems. High-capacity supervisors and switching backplanes, advanced service modules, and scalable designs all serve to deliver the full potential of such demanding applications as TelePresence and advanced web conferencing. You should also take note of the longer service life of higher capacity and more capable systems. The more extensible a device is, the more likely that device will serve your organization for a far longer period of time than a device deployed to meet only immediate and basic needs. Across many fronts, the higher end system delivers more Green value in any network equation.And one final thing to remember when updating your network… Don’t forget to dispose of your retired equipment in an environmentally friendly manner. No matter your vendor of choice for your network update, take advantage of their recycling program — and the related trade-in discounts! Do not just throw your old devices into the trash. Despite the age of the equipment, components or even whole systems may be appropriate for reuse. And any contained hazardous materials must be processed correctly. While it may no longer serve your organization, your old network still deserves to go out in style!