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The Evolution of Energy Management at Cisco

August 20, 2010 - 1 Comment

We’ve come a long way from the days of flicking a light switch as you left the office.  Through technological innovation with Cisco Borderless Networks, we can now do things like turn off all the lights in an office building through the click of the mouse from the network administrator’s desk.  You’ve probably seen our video showcasing this – but how did we get here? 

On January 29th, 2009 at CiscoLive! Barcelona, Cisco unveiled EnergyWise and Network Building Mediator, two solutions that provide customers the ability to monitor, measure and manage energy consumption through their Cisco Network.   

But what prompted Cisco to develop these solutions in the first place, and what trends influenced the creation of EnergyWise?  We’re glad you asked.

Cisco’s Entry Into the Energy Management Market

One of the factors that contributed to Cisco’s development of energy management solutions was a transformation within our own routing and switching technologies.  There was a movement to centralize massive data center networking devices which lead to the development of new, larger, routing and switching systems which, in turn, called for new power and cooling expertise.  This resulted in a large transfer in switching power requirements, as standard network switches became power distribution units.

Following the development of the Cisco Carrier Routing System (CRS-1) in 2006, Cisco engineers worked on power and cooling designs to support the CRS-1 and other large switches.

Development of Power Over Ethernet (PoE) feature sets, as part of voice technologies, also had an impact on energy management. Two-thirds of the network power was now going to devices attached to the switch, while only one-third was actually used to route and switch data. By definition, the switch had become the center for power distribution.

Thus, energy management was closer to the core than ever before, and by late 2006-2007, Cisco began talking to engineers from multiple business units and articulating the need for better energy management and monitoring. This engineering team spearheaded what would eventually become EnergyWise.

The goal was to develop an energy management solution that was broad based and not vendor specific. At the time, there was a bevy of propriety energy management approaches, but customers had a strong desire for a simple and reliable common platform.

The Cisco engineering team began to build out the requirements for EnergyWise. The network was an ideal platform to provide the common measuring, monitoring and management customers desired and Cisco was the only vendor who could accomplish this, given our total number of ports deployed and 70% of the worldwide web running on a Cisco IP backbone. 

In 2007, a Gartner study concluded that the IT industry contributed 2% of all greenhouse gases. This may seem like a small contribution, but the entire airline industry emitted the same amount of carbon into the environment that same year. As an IT professional, energy management began to hit the radar screen as a top priority.

EnergyWise Is Launched in 2009

In 2009, EnergyWise was launched, and Cisco customers began to manage energy costs and consumption in a completely unique way: affecting energy use through the operating system. EnergyWise provides a complete energy footprint for the IT network, and is a solution you can implement today to reduce facility energy use and impact global energy consumption.

Anyone with Cisco routing and switching solutions deployed through the network can turn on EnergyWise free of cost, and get immediate power consumption control by updating their IOS.

The Future of EnergyWise

So what does the future hold for Cisco EnergyWise and energy management? 

Future innovations will include the ability to place devices in stand-by mode versus shutting them down completely or the ability to turn off certain network features at scheduled times. Additionally, Cisco believes there will be better correlation of energy supply and demand – not just within a building, but from the Smart Grid transmission and distribution center to the consumption endpoint.

There continues to be a strong social movement around green initiatives, energy conservation, and energy management. As Enterprises translate what a green agenda means for their business models and their networks, Cisco will continue to provide innovation through Borderless Networks and expand upon our EnergyWise solution to help deliver on this agenda.

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  1. I hope that energymanagement gets a high priority, in this time of global worries about energy consumption.