Cisco VARs Finding Greenbacks By Pushing Green Networking


Some Cisco Systems partners say that, in fact, it does, even though customers might be buying into the idea of green networking for reasons other than helping Mother Earth.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company this week has been pushing the green IT concept hard at its Cisco Live user conference. At the Orlando event, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers made much of the amount of travel the company has cut back due to its widespread deployment of its TelePresence high-definition videoconferencing units. The company also pledged at the event to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its global operations by 25 percent over the next four years.

Cisco channel partners say that the green phenomenon is more than hype: some customers are demanding it.

"It's being required by our customers. For example, at one healthcare customer, they have a mandate to get more green," said Frank Scanga, executive vice president of Axispoint, a Cisco partner in New York. "Customers actively want to become more green. They realize there is significant return on investment."

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Brett Shockley, CEO of Spanlink Communications, Minneapolis, Minn., said even if customers aren't motivated by the environment to go green, they are interested in the cost savings that come with reduction of power consumption, cooling requirements and travel.

"Regardless of what you think about global warming, the reality is that everybody is buying into the fact that travel is expensive and time consuming, and that commonality is getting people believing this way of thinking," Shockley said of the green IT movement. "We see large corporate initiatives around green, and we see IT and department initiatives around more specifically the benefits of green -- cutting travel costs, working more efficiently. They are two points of view that get you to the same place."

Cisco's focus on green networking could have a few advantages for its channel partners, said Alex Thurber, senior director of go-to-market strategy for worldwide channels at Cisco.

"From the partner perspective, they're representing a company that's at the forefront of trying to be green, and there is some marketing pizzazz around that," Thurber said. "But I think more to the point, as we continue to develop metrics and tools on what it means for customers to cut back on travel and do more on TelePresence, that's a very powerful story."

Thurber said partners can drive sales of green solutions by touting other motives, such as cutting costs or improving quality of life for employees. "If the end result is that it also helps the planet, that's a bonus," Thurber said.