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Following Up With Paul Marcoux

Last week I blogged about conflicting reports on new plans laid out by Cisco's new Green Guru, Paul Marcoux. I had a chance to catch up with Paul this morning -- here's what I learned.
First let me recap a bit. Marcoux recently came to Cisco from APC, where he led many green-related efforts and involved the company in industry consortia like the GreenGrid. In coming to Cisco, Marcoux wants to energize the company about efficient computing as much as he did at APC, and there's no doubt that APC has offered some powerful thinking on efficient computing, particularly for midmarket customers.

What caught my attention was that some reports had Marcoux putting Cisco in the virtualization management business, competing with the likes of VMware and Citrix/Xen, while others described his efforts working to smarten up the plumbing so that management products from the VMWares of the world can take power and cooling into account when deciding where computational loads should run.

As it turns out, the latter is closer to Marcoux's marching orders. The problem he sees is that current standards aren't complete enough to even begin piecing together the energy and cooling usage in a data center, especially without resorting to proprietary systems.

That leaves Marcoux and Cisco with two challenges. First is to work with standards bodies to drive standardized methods for reporting power usage and environmental conditions, and to work with virtualization management vendors to take advantage of the standards once they're created. The second is get the various divisions within Cisco to implement the standards. In some cases, existing sensors already are collecting the data, but in other cases, hardware will have to redesigned, or not fully participate in the environmental monitoring.

There is a third task, and it's no less of challenge, but it is primarily out of Cisco's hands, and that is the building of a virtualization management system that can actually consider business rules and environmental conditions at the same time to make the right decisions about when and where applications should run.

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