Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

The Next Networking Battleground: GreenIT?

As fuel costs rose and energy pricing skyrocketed, many small and medium businesses were searching for ways to cut their energy costs. Network equipment has been one IT segment that has been a bit of a black hole when it comes to energy usage, so a couple of vendors are now trying to fill that void.Juniper Networks and test and measurement vendor Ixia have developed a framework to measure the energy efficiency of network and telecommunications devices. The two have formed a consortium, the Energy Consumption Rating (ECR) Initiative, which provides ways to evaluate the energy efficiency of network equipment. The group has devised the ECR draft specification 1.02, which features a "performance-per-energy unit" rating that correlates watts of electricity used with Gigabit per second of band provided and reports that information in various ways, such as peak usage and weighted metrics.

The notion of putting more metrics in place to measure network equipment seems well founded. These vendors have lagging behind computer manufacturers in making their products energy efficient. However, the ECR faces a few challenges. The consortium claims to be open, but the testing of the energy products is slated to take place at Ixias office, and the release touted the energy efficiency of the Juniper T1600 core router. Competitors may be skeptical about the consortiums ability to provide a level playing field when evaluating different products efficiency.

Also, other networking vendors have recently been tackling green challenges. D-Link is one supplier touting its energy features. Standards groups are also taking on this challenge. The IEEE has been working on a Green Ethernet standard, and the International Telecommunications Union has been talking about the need for more energy efficient networking products. In addition, energy centric groups, such as The Green Grid, are focused on improving energy use in IT. Juniper and Axia have identified an area of rising interest but it is unclear at this point how much of an impact their joint work will have on small and medium businesses.