Thinking Green as Earth Day Approaches

In honor of Earth Day, here’s some notes on
making networks just a bit greener. Save the planet? Sure. But you can also save money.

Earth DayComputerworld points out that although servers grab most of the attention when it
comes to power management, all the other network equipment hanging off them can
go green as well. It’s important because networking can account for up to 15
percent of the total power budget. Switches, routers,
racks, cooling: it all adds up.

Some tips that the experts suggest for squeezing more energy
efficiency out of your IT operation:

  • Refresh your
    "Cisco estimates that its new equipment gains 15 to 20
    percent in energy efficiency every two to three years.".
  • Make use
    of energy-efficient features.
    "For example, Cisco’s Nexus 7000 switch
    can reduce power consumption in empty line-card slots, but that feature is not
    yet available in the vendor’s more popular Catalyst 6500 series."
  • Virtualize.
    "Server virtualization increases network utilization and reduces network
    equipment needs by allowing multiple virtual servers to share one or more
    network adapters within the confines of a single physical server."
  • Be
    careful with cabinets.
    "Make sure networking equipment that goes into
    a hot aisle/cold aisle row uses front-to-back airflow, not side-to-side
    cooling. Vendors prefer side-to-side venting, which allows them to get more
    equipment into the rack, but units using a side-to-side design may blow hot air
    back into the cold aisle – or directly into an adjacent rack – and overheat
  • Use a
    structured network design.
    "Your best bet for the greatest energy
    efficiency is to follow the Telecommunications Industry Association’s TIA-942
    Telecom Infrastructure Standard for Data Centers

And remember: Don’t go green just to be politically correct.
Do it to improve your organization’s bottom line and impress your bosses.

— Don Willmott