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Measuring Progress: Green Metrics

I’ve been involved in networking standards work at Cisco for 12 years and I’m currently helping with a major program that I think will lead to some of the most important standards and developments that I’ve seen during my time here. We’re currently involved with several organizations like the EPA, EUP, ITU, ATIS, METI and The Green Grid examining standardized ways to measure the energy efficiency of networking gear. This fits really well with the program that we have been running internally for more than two years to improve the energy efficiency of networks overall (see a list of related links below covering other sites we’re involved with and projects we find important). At its simplest, we at Cisco view measuring energy efficiency in the network much like miles-per-gallon metric used by the auto industry. It’s great to have a standard way to express energy efficiency that’s well understood by all manufacturers, but these standards are only meant to be a guideline for typical conditions. Any user should look at their own situation to decide the most efficient solution -you wouldn’t choose a Prius to carry a load of bricks to a construction site. In Cisco we have focused on the energy efficiency of networks as a whole, in real-world environments. Efficiency for networks is a more difficult problem than for many other products because, in a network, everything talks to everything else and everything may affect everything else. You can’t look at things in isolation. In addition, overly simplistic bench tests that don’t take into account real world operating conditions can give misleading results; it is crucial to examine the efficiency of a solution doing the job that needs to be done.We want to help our customers come up with ways to evaluate solutions to get the best real-world results. This is not just a competitive issue -- we think our gear compares well to anyone’s in real-world conditions -- but the biggest effect on efficiency comes from choosing the right solution for the real job. Cisco, along with other networking companies, is moving forward on a path that we hope will benefit everyone in the industry, especially the end user. We look forward to the upcoming votes in ATIS that will introduce practical and useful metrics and we hope that this approach is adopted worldwide throughout the networking industry. Hugh Barrass, technical leader, Cisco. Related links:IEEE 802.3az Energy Efficient EthernetUS Department of Energy, Data Center Energy Savings Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Data Center Efficiency

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2 Comments.


  1. Hugh – great stuff; you may want to reach out to Jean-Yves Empeigne who has done some consulting work with the Australia New Zealand Bank (ANZ); essentially to help them measure, track and reduce their carbon footprint”" through the implementation of more effective real estate and technology solutions; I don’t have the details from Jean-Yves’ work – but know he’s talented in this area and is passionate about this space.”

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  2. Rob Aldrich

    Great Post Hugh!It’s exciting to think of the possibilities of implementing system and architecture level metrics with the network as the model. As the industry moves more aggressively into cloud models this will be more and more relevant.As this approach progresses, it is of course crucial for us to get customer and partner feedback. After all, we’re building products people want to buy.For our Readers – Any thoughts out there on what you want to see in Cisco products? Features, qualities, refernce to a mpg by family, etc…Here is your forum to talk to the folks building the kit = )

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