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Powering Down the Network?

October 20, 2008 - 0 Comments

wind turbines Noticed the rising energy cost recently? What have you done to lower the carbon footprint? The IT and Communications infrastructure is growing dramatically driven by increasing traffic loads. Enterprises and Service Providers are incurring rising energy costs and exploring ways to control these expenses. While it’s important for all equipment vendors to do all that is possible to improve the energy efficiency, it’s important to consider the following. Within the enterprise the power use per employee is up dramatically with the deployment of high power computers, printers, telphone and peripheral devices. Infact, even some of the new technologies that enable collaboration incur additional energy costs. In addition, the computing and storage power required within the data center continues to rise driven by an insatiable appetite for personal and professional content. Relatively speaking, the network’s contribution to the overall energy consumption is much lower than all of the other components.For Service Providers the power per subscriber has increased dramatically. When all the consumers had in their home was an analog telephone, the power per user in the central office was 10mW compared to nearly 10W of power needed per customer for a broadband connection termination. Just think, 10W for a broadband termination and multiply that by the number of subscribers in a typical service provider network. The power for enabling all of these broadband access connections alone is dramatically higher than the power needed in the core or edge combined. How should one look at power efficiency? Is it power per box? Per rack? Neither. We should look at the power per user in the network. Why? While we must continue to improve the energy consumption for each device, it’s more important to improve the overall energy efficiency in the network. For service providers, for example, reducing the power per broadband connection termination from 10W is key. Cisco has been leading the industry in the development of high capacity routers and switches that offer the best power per Mbit – for example, the Nexus 7000, Nexus 5000, ASR 1000, CRS-1, etc. Moreover, the approach of integrating additional capabilities into these platforms in enabling the reduction of other elements in the network. For example, integration of transponders inside routers reduces the need for transponder shelves; integration of security and Session Border Controller functions in the ASR 1000 reduces the need for appliances in the network. Continued innovation in this area and further integration of functions in network elements is going to be fundamental to improving the overall energy efficiency.

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