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Powering Network Devices in an Environmentally Friendly Way

One of network industrys dirty little secrets is its impact on the environment. As network devices have become more functional and more powerful, they also require more electricity. Not only does this trend have a negative impact on budgets for small and medium sized businesses, but it also leads to burning more fossil fuels, which negatively impacts the environment and increases dependence on foreign fuel sources. Solis Energy has devised an environmentally safe way of generating power for select network applications, such as powering WiFi and WiMAX routers, and its approach should be embraced by small and medium businesses as well as network equipment suppliers.Networks now require more and more electricity to run. As these devices have become more robust, they have been consuming more power. Also, the need to keep enterprise networks up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days week leads to increased use of electricity. The US is one of the worlds biggest energy consumers. Along with China and India, the three account for about one half of the worlds energy use, according to a US Department of Energy report. Fueled by ongoing network improvements, fuel usage is expected to increase at double digit rates during the coming years. While one can -- but we wontdebate issues like global warming, everyone would agree that using less fuel is preferable to using more of it.

Solis offers an alternative to traditional network devices. It has built turnkey, stand-alone solar generators that support low wattage applications, typically 100 watts or less. The company has positioned its products as a good fit for WiFi and WiMAX applications, which are on the low end of energy requirements. Another plus is the devices would reduce customers energy usage and their monthly fuel bills.

While its products offer a few compelling benefits, Solis faces an uphill battle in building a viable business. It is unclear at the moment how well its products would work on corporate networks. Typically, first generation devices tend to be more expensive than more established options. Also, traditional network equipment has a much larger experienced channel than solar devices.

Solis may or may not be successful, but its products illustrate a growing awareness among vendors that there may be a market for environmentally friendly products. The key question is: How many enterprises will be willing to make a short term sacrifice of paying extra for such products and helping vendor like Solis get the kinks out of their products? Time will provide the answer to that question, but it is a sign of progress that it at least the question is being raised.

How much interest do you have in environmentally friendly products? Would you be willing to pay a little more for them? Do you think the industry will move to them any time soon?