The coverage this week of Google's Power Meter application for smart grid visibility has helped me think about another recent launch, that of Cisco's EnergyWise initiative, with new perspective.
Before I go any farther, I will note that am a consultant for some parts of Cisco's worldwide channel organization, although that work is very far removed from the company's green initiatives. I was briefed about EnergyWise a couple of weeks back and have been stewing about its implications since that time.
Cisco and other networking companies face an interesting dilemma when it comes to power management and energy consumption. You can't very well shut down a network, as you might a desktop or a storage device, when it's idle. But Berna Devrim, senior manager of access switching marketing for EnergyWise, argues that there is a difference between "always on" and "always available," which is a fundamental tenet of this technology. Plus, the network -- especially the converged network -- is the very thing that will help control "any entity in a business that is connected," she says.
What exactly is EnergyWise? The first phase will see the technology added as a FREE UPGRADE to the software on Cisco's Catalyst switch line (specifically the 3K and 2K models), where companies will be able to use it to manage the power consumption of IP devices including phones, video surveillance cameras and wireless access points. Things that need to be on pretty much all the time. By the summer, Cisco plans to extend the capability to 4500 and 6500 series switches, and extend EnergyWise's reach to personal computers, notebook computers and printers. Ultimately (by early 2010), the company is eying applications in the Building Control space, where EnergyWise could play a role in helping facilities managers handle heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, lighting, employee badge access, fire alarms, security systems and the like.
"Our vision is very big," says Devrim.
By the way, anyone who questions Cisco's ability to play a role in the latter area, consider that it is very closely allied with Panduit, which is ALL about unified infrastructure. Another partner in EnergyWise is Verdiem, which makes the Surveyor power management software (which happens to be bundled on many systems from Hewlett-Packard, hmmm.) Other notables in the effort: SolarWinds for network monitoring and Schneider Electric for building utility management.
How might EnergyWise be used? Cisco was kind enough to provide several examples in its supporting slides for the launch. Consider, for instance, the case of a bank with multiple branch offices in use from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. By deploying EnergyWise, the sample customer was able to power down more than 500 access points and 5,000 IP phones across the Catalyst-controlled network. The annual savings in energy equates to $36,997 and the estimated diverted greenhouse gas emissions are 185 tons.
In a different, more forward-looking example, Cisco talks about how its technology could help a hotel manage electricity use in unoccupied rooms or set custom thermostat profiles for personal guests. A hotel could save $400 (or 2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions) per room per year, Cisco estimates.