Can information, operational, and mission technology networks be a sustainability catalyst?

As the United States Government shapes its Net Zero strategy, the Department of Defense (DoD) has an opportunity to double down on its investment in the system of networks that power two journeys – Digital Transformation and Net Zero. We call it ‘Smart Zero’. In this blog, we will take a look at how mission and sustainability can be complementary.

While to some, the term sustainability may conjure up a vision of limiting mission effectiveness and operational resiliency, it’s actually the opposite. Cisco’s network, data center, and collaboration portfolios can help optimize energy efficiency; deliver the bandwidth, speed, and scale required to support today’s mission posture; provide an enhanced network user experience and enable continuous zero-trust security anywhere it’s needed.

Cisco-powered core architecture can be an energy efficiency investment in and of itself, beyond its inherent Net Zero qualities (lower embedded carbon, operating cost of energy savings, and waste-reducing circular design). The modern network can support secure convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) on a single network infrastructure, supporting integration of core operational and building management data that can continuously support optimized cost, carbon, and operational efficiency.

Leveraging the sustainable network to access a broader range of benefits

Beyond the network, the modern architecture can be leveraged to securely host sustainability-specific initiatives, including collaborative distributed operations, smart building mission hubs, microgrids to secure renewable energy assets, and Electric Vehicle (EV) charging to support the transition from fossil fuels to clean power – together these initiatives can reduce greenhouse gas emissions across a range of metrics. It all starts with a strategy that leverages or improves the installed network base incorporating network components from the Cisco Catalyst family of products.

  • The Catalyst product line for enterprise and industrial networks can enhance operational effectiveness with secure connections, lower energy use, and distributed 90W Power over Ethernet (PoE) that supports lighting and USB-C compatible workstation devices & Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
  • The journey continues by enabling distributed operations with connectivity, data center, and cloud optimization solutions that allow you to synchronize secure distributed missions while driving toward your sustainability targets. In fact, Cisco UCS-X Servers are designed with sustainability in mind and have been both Energy Star and EPEAT certified.
  • Extend your benefits with Smart Building and Hybrid Work networking technologies that enable the distributed force of the future to work across a mix of carpeted, industrial, and field environments to operate in a synchronized manner. Each mission environment can be transformed into a Smart Mission Hub featuring converged IT/OT allowing you to securely leverage Internet of Things technologies that help support higher mission effectiveness at reduced energy cost and CO2 emission levels. Complement your Net Zero journey with Cisco solutions for utilities that support secure micro-grid platforms that manage grid-disturbance energy resiliency assets, including dedicated renewable energy generation and on-site emergency backup power storage solutions.
  • Finally, anywhere along the journey, Cisco EV-Charging solutions feature flexible connectivity, security, and visibility solutions to support EV charging to support employee-owned and government fleet vehicles across a range of sites ranging from remote, single-station locations to large-scale transportation motor pool applications.

Moving forward while keeping it real

So, what does your journey look like? It probably reflects a combination of the sustainability solutions discussed above. The key is to move forward together incrementally or at scale:

  • Modernizing network and data center architectures;
  • Enabling secure distributed operations for tomorrow’s highly mobile, low forward-footprint operational concepts;
  • Building the installation of tomorrow that features lower energy demand, dedicated resilient energy solutions for critical mission functions, and the ability to support transition to privately owned and government-owned/leased EVs.

So, let’s make it happen together with Cisco’s experience and solutions to help enterprise-scale organizations transform to a sustainable future.


Chuck Louisell, Ph.D., P.E.

Strategic Program Manager

Federal Business Development