First desktops, now networking. Saying that energy usage from networking technology could rise by as much as 6 percent per year as more computing devices before networking, the Climate Savers Computing Initiative has created a workgroup tasked with creating energy efficiency targets for companies designing routers, switches and other "connected devices."
To be specific: the group believes it can squeeze $5 billion in electricity costs out of the sector over the next five years, the equivalent of about 51 billion kilowatt hours in energy or 38 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Many workplaces can cut their energy use by 10 percent simply through conservation measures and efficiency initiatives, according to Climate Savers.
Lorie Wigle, general manager of the Eco-Technology Program Office for Intel and president of Climate Savers, has this to say in the group's press release:
"Climate Savers Computing continues to identify new areas for increasing energy efficiency in IT equipment. Our expansion into networking is designed to address and reduce the environmental and economic impact of the devices and systems by developing and deploying global standards that will provide enhanced design, delivery and adoption of high efficiency electronics."
The workgroup includes Cisco, CompTIA, Emerson Network Power, Finisar, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Juniper Networks and Sony Electronics. They have been charged both with developing best practices to do this, as well as pushing for commercial awareness and adoption of higher efficiency standards. No word on timing.
No word, either, on the role that Energy Efficient Ethernet could play in the energy reduction equation. The protocol, which was just ratified, is designed to let networking routers, switches and other devices operate in a low-power consumption mode when they are not doing something useful, but in a way that doesn’t interfere with visible network performance.
Because that is, after all, what it is all about. Making sure that you reduce power, but don't interfere from the general public's need for instant gratification when it comes to receiving email, text messages or whatever manner of communications happens to float your boat. Get in the way of that, and you are asking for trouble. Seriously, most businesses haven't even figured out that it is beneficial to manage the power consumption of desktops and notebooks and now we want them to mess with their network? I think it needs to be done, but it's going to take a radical mindshift.
Several of the companies within the working group already have technologies emerging to address energy consumption. The one with which I am most familiar is Cisco EnergyWise, although its focus is more on managing the power of stuff attached to the network. I'm sure we'll be hearing about more soon, so watch this space.