Cisco Gets Wise To Cutting Energy Costs


"Going green" has been an industry buzzword for the past couple of years, but Cisco Systems on Tuesday put its money where its mouth is to help organizations chop energy costs and reduce their carbon footprints with software that can manage devices and systems that gobble up power.

Cisco's new EnergyWise Technology, available as software built into IOS in Catalyst switches, uses standard protocols to monitor devices, report on those devices' energy use and ultimately use policies to control those devices and the power they consume. EnergyWise is available as a free download or as part of a technology refresh.

The ability to report on and monitor device power usage and set policies around it opens the door for solution providers to have a new conversation with customers while also being able to wrap in green consulting services, said Judy Lin, senior vice president of Cisco's Ethernet technology business group.

"It lets distributors and VARs provide another new service -- energy management and maintenance," Lin said, adding that it lets solution providers tell the story around, " 'This is where you are today and this is what you could do if you adopt these policies.' They can go to customers with a simple value proposition and a new conversation, and enhance profitability with value-added services."

William Choe, director of Cisco's Ethernet switching technology group, added, "Channel partners are typically called for uptime services like fault-, configuration- and change-management. They can offer a new business model around energy management and new uptime services."

According to Lin, EnergyWise will roll out in three phases. Phase one, which will be available next month and will include a partnership with network monitoring vendor SolarWinds, tackles network control, enabling users to manage the energy consumption of Power-over-Ethernet-powered IP devices like phones, wireless access points and video surveillance cameras. Users can determine power levels, create policies, discover power usage, manage power and create reports around consumption. In phase one, EnergyWise will be available on the Catalyst 2960, 3560 and 3750.

Phase two ups the ante, offering IT control over non-PoE devices like PCs, laptops and printers. The second phase, which is expected this summer and includes a partnership with Verdiem, unlocks the ability to monitor and manage PC use. Phase two also offers enhanced measurement capabilities and location-assessment functionality. Phase two will include availability on the Catalyst 4500.

In the third and final phase, EnergyWise will enable broader control. By early 2010, EnergyWise will be used to automate and control building system energy use, including HVAC, lighting, elevators, security systems and other energy-draining building systems. Phase three will include a partnership with Schneider Electric for building-utility management and power distribution.

"The dialogue with customers when it's concerning energy consumption degenerates to bits per watts," Lin said, adding that EnergyWise offers a "bits-per-services-delivered" view. "We're allowing the business decision-makers in the company to have the visibility to make decisions."

For example, Lin said, if a 100-branch bank that operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. uses EnergyWise to power down PoE devices -- 500 access points and 5,000 IP phones -- in off hours, it can realize energy savings of nearly $37,000 annually and result in the emission of 185 tons less of greenhouse gases, an amount equal to the amount of electricity used in 67 homes per year.

Choe said as a key differentiator, Cisco EnergyWise gives users realtime, granular measurement capabilities, which ultimately give CIOs better visibility into energy savings across their organizations and specific places in the network, like the campus, branch office and data center.

"It's validating investment protection and providing more value than just connectivity," Choe said. "A CIO can offer a new business imperative around operating efficiently."

Along with rolling out EnergyWise software, Cisco also has unveiled new Green Business Value Calculators, tools that give customers projected costs and greenhouse gas emission savings results they would achieve with EnergyWise and other green technology solutions. Cisco also introduced adaptive power management functionality in the Cisco Wireless Control System to save power by letting customers turn off redundant radios during off-hours.

Rich Schofield, business development director for global network integration with solution provider Dimension Data, said the introduction of EnergyWise offers the ability to continue to drive the network to be more intelligent. Additionally, it keeps the environment from stagnating and opens up a technology-refresh conversation.

"Why have additional boxes and additional software?" he asked. "Do it through the network. Have an all-in-one device and have that intelligence in the network."

For solution providers, having a green story can be a competitive advantage by giving customers a reason to move forward with a refresh to achieve ROI.

Schofield said phase one would enable solution providers to tell a new technology refresh story, while phase two will let companies start saving serious money. Solution providers can jump aboard by offering managed and professional services around EnergyWise deployments to boost their revenue streams.

Dimension Data itself is working on a green/energy assessment offering to complement its network optimization and security assessment offerings.

"Phase one gives the opportunity to work with customers, get it into their hands and get their feet wet," Schofield said. "Phase two and phase three will help them save money."