What makes a switch -- or any other networking device for that matter -- green? Wiktionary defines a red herring as “A clue that is misleading or that has been falsified, intended to divert attention.” In a recent Fact or Fiction session, Marie Hattar, Vice President -- Network Systems and Security at Cisco Systems, draws the comparison between green switches and red herrings. The assertion she makes is this… Without a complete understanding of the full story — and true clues — relating to switching and Green, your switch of choice could very well turn from green to red. So how do you go about determining if a switch is indeed green? And how do you determine how green one switch is compared to another? Let’s establish a couple of basic premises. First, switches come in many shades of Green -- ranging from the lighter shades that provide incremental sustainability gains for your organization to the more intense shades that deliver even greater gains on both the business and environmental fronts. Second, all areas of impact are important when evaluating green switching solutions. While some technical characteristics and capabilities may deliver greater environmental value, one should not ignore any one impact area. Every little bit does indeed help. With that said, however, it is vital that you take into account the relative value of all green switching considerations -- not just those that allow for easy and rudimentary comparisons. After all, the earth and your business deserve more. And what are these green switching considerations? And how do they rate in terms of potential impact? The following list offers five key areas of assessment for Green switches -- ranked from highest (top) to lowest (bottom) potential value to your organization’s sustainability efforts:-- Process Innovation. Does the switch enable new business practices that drive sustainable prosperity?-- Resource Management. Does the switch drive energy/resource savings beyond the network?-- Network Efficiency. Does the switch drive energy/resource savings across the network?-- Device Preservation. Does the switch drive resource savings over its lifetime?-- Device Efficiency. Does the switch consume the least amount of power for the work performed?With pressure mounting on the environmental side -- public outcries, rising energy costs, carbon tax penalties, formalized telecommuting policies, tightening facilities building and operations codes, etc. — it is increasingly apparent that sustainable IT and business practices will be an expected and, in certain situations, even a required norm in the years to come. It is imperative that your network serve these developing norms (e.g., Remote collaboration) and maybe, establish even more Green-related norms (e.g., Cisco EnergyWise) along the way.