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Cisco's Approach To Green: Sensible Or Stupid?

Maybe it's all in the interview. Cisco Systems recently hired green guru Paul Marcoux from APC. As is typical for a hire like this, which is as much for public relations as anything, Marcoux set out for a round of interviews, and depending on which story you read, his plans lie somewhere between sensible contributions to the green movement and a very unlikely attempt at world domination.
Almost every day's managing editor, Tom LaSusa, pokes around the Web for interesting news stories. Today he noticed a story at about how Paul Marcoux was planning to use Cisco routers and switches as the collection point for data on device power consumption. With this data, according to the article, Cisco will monitor total power and use virtualization to move virtual machines as needed to optimize for power consumption.

It's the sort of story you read and think, "Something has to be wrong." If there were ever a vendor I wouldn't want mucking around with where and how applications are running, it would be Cisco. What I want from Cisco is a great, highly reliable, manageable, standards-based infrastructure that can be managed through policy-based systems that aren't designed by a hardware vendor whose primary goal is probably to sell me more hardware. Sure, Cisco and every other switch and router vendor should be part of the process of provisioning resources in a virtual world -- but running the show? Absolutely not Cisco.

Well, as it turns out, Marcoux may ... just may agree. In a story from our sister publication CRN, you get a much more nuanced view. Reading that story, it sounds like Cisco wants to play the role it should be playing -- to provide information on the power consumption and other performance characteristics of its gear. Cisco wants to play a role and help define standards.

So what's the truth? That's a good question. Certainly Cisco's Data Center 3.0 vision would support the view. So does its usual practice of developing proprietary standards, then making them public just when it can only result in an even less even playing field for Cisco. On the other hand, the notion of Cisco providing the software that manages applications when it's never been a good provider of even network management software, let alone systems management software, seems too arrogant even for Cisco.

So now I'm on a quest to learn the truth. When we all get back to business on the 2nd, I'll be on the phone to Cisco to get some time with Marcoux. Stay tuned!