Cisco green plan looks beyond routers to virtualisation

Cisco Systems wants to turn the enterprise data network into an electricity meter.

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Cisco Systems wants to turn the enterprise data network into an electricity
meter.

Using open standards, the company wants to get server and storage vendors to collect and share information about their equipment and send it to Cisco routers and switches. The data could include power consumption, operating temperature and more.

It's becoming a critical job, and because the network touches all IT resources across the enterprise, data collection should happen there, according to Paul Marcoux, vice president of green engineering.

Marcoux joined Cisco from American Power Conversion only about six weeks ago, after Cisco created the position to overlook energy issues across all parts of the company. Networking gear itself makes up a much smaller portion of IT power consumption than do servers or storage, but Cisco plans to go beyond just making its own products more efficient.

Power is a growing issue in datacentres as the cost of energy rises and concerns about global climate change increase. Being able to collect and analyse information about power usage is a big part of the battle and becoming more crucial in the age of virtualisation, according to Marcoux.

Distributing storage and processing cycles without regard for power issues is not just inefficient, it's dangerous, he said.

If virtualisation software looks at a process that requires more computing power or storage space, then enlists servers or storage devices that are near to overheating or running out of power, it could send a rack of servers over the edge and shut it down, Marcoux said. For that reason, the virtualisation system needs to know the power status of all the resources it may call upon, he said.

By the same token, consolidated datacentres typically serve many departments of an enterprise and consume a lot of power, but those groups generally don't have to pay for their part of the power.

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