Cisco Goes for Green IT

Cisco CEO John Chambers does his best 'Incredible Hulk' impersonation in Florida

June 25, 2008

4 Min Read
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Cisco has thrown is weight firmly behind Green IT at its annual user event in Orlando, Fla., and also unveiled a number of software enhancements to its WAN optimization and switch offerings.

This morning, at the Cisco Live event, the vendor announced plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, largely by overhauling its data centers and labs.

"Every corporation has a responsibility to help address climate change and to minimize the impact of its operations on the environment," said John Chambers, the Cisco CEO, during his keynote today. We believe we can significantly alter our greenhouse gas footprint and help our customers meet their sustainability goals."

Specifically, Cisco will be using a “virtual network” built from its own switching and virtualization technology to store data, and deploying “smart” power-distribution units that automatically shut down machines not in use.

The vendor is also piloting a software solution in its U.S. operation, which it claims can forecast how the rising cost of energy will affect IT operations and expenditures, as well as modeling energy reductions.Cisco is not the first vendor to bang the green IT drum, particularly at a time when users are clamoring for power-efficient storage, networking, and server technologies. Analyst firm IDC, for example, recently warned that the cost of powering and cooling the world’s external storage reached $1 billion in 2007.

IBM has already got in on this act, recently unveiling a set of green data center manager tools; and hardware vendors such as EMC, Sun, and HDS are all championing the green benefits of solid state disks (SSDs).

Like most vendors, it is inevitable that Cisco will eventually sell the green technologies outlined today to the masses, although the networking giant has not revealed when this will happen.

The vendor was somewhat more forthcoming on other aspects of its technology roadmap at Cisco Live today, outlining a set of enhancements to its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) and its Application Control Engine (ACE) switch.

Like other vendors in the WAN optimization space such as Riverbed and Blue Coat, Cisco is opening up its WAAS technology to third-party services, and it added more flesh to the bones of this strategy today.Earlier this year, for example, Cisco teamed up with Microsoft to host the software vendor’s "Longhorn" offering, which will be supported in today’s release of WAAS 4.1. “There’s a range of other services to come,” says Mark Weiner, Cisco’s director of product marketing in Cisco's application networking division. “We’re looking at a number of verticals -- some security services and some broader IT services, some of which may be storage related.”

Other WAAS enhancements include an overhauled GUI and improvements around video, MAPI, HTTP, and NFS applications, according to Weiner.

WAAS version 4.1 will be available free of charge to users with existing Cisco SmartNet maintenance contracts in the third quarter of this year, although the video streaming features will be priced at $2,500 per device.

Cisco has also souped-up the software running on its ACE switch technology at Cisco Live.

“This is a new software release for the ACE 4710 application switch,” explains Weiner, adding that the switch can now load-balance and accelerate VOIP and streaming video traffic. “[Previously], with VOIP and video, you had to map users to backend servers -- now you can use less servers.”The software upgrade has also doubled the throughput of the ACE 4710 device, which competes with midrange offerings from F5 Networks, from 2-Gbit/s to 4-Gbit/s, according to Weiner.

ACE software 3.1 will also be available in the third quarter at no extra charge for SmartNet customers, although the throughput upgrade costs $15,000.

Cisco also announced a new release of its VFrame virtualization software today, touting tighter integration with VMware.

”We can now tee up the VMware hypervisor and bring up virtual servers as needed, based on policies,” says Weiner.

VFrame software version 1.2 will be available in the third quarter, with pricing starting at $59,995.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • IDC

  • Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA)

  • VMware Inc.

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