Through evolving hardware and standards, as well as its broad datacenter reach, the network is becoming a green beneficiary and catalyst
The network isn't immune to the greening effect that's touched the enterprise IT infrastructure. On a granular level, the IT industry is seeing increased energy-efficiency touching network hardware such as routers and switches. But on a broader level, there's potential for the network to be a vehicle of energy efficiency effort, an idea pushed by companies such as Cisco. And the brewing IEEE 802.3az standard, more elegantly known as the Energy Efficient Ethernet, could have a profound impact on reducing power consumption, too.
Let's start with routers, one in particular. If you read the Test Center Daily, you may already be familiar with the Anagran FR-1000, brainchild of Dr. Lawrence Roberts. (He's fathered some other impressive brainkids, including that sensational series of tubes we call the Internet.)
Designed to handle the new breeds of rich data that traverse network pipes -- audio, video, and VoIP, for example -- the Anagran FR-1000 doesn't look at data on a packet-by-packet basis; it looks at entire flows of data. That approach, combined with other smarts, means the router requires 80 percent less energy, with saves on power bills. It's also 80 percent smaller than other Layer-3 routers, according to the company, which can free up precious datacenter space.
Awake at the switch
Moving on to switches: Brocade is taking a page from server and PC hardware vendors in touting the relative energy efficiency of its switch lines. In particular, the company is boasting that its models deliver lower power consumption compared to the competition, but the company specifically calls out Cisco MDS 9513.
Citing a report compiled by ESG Labs [PDF], Brocade proclaims that its directors "have the lowest documented power draw at only 915 watts for 256 4Gbps ports and 1,150 watts for 384 4Gbps ports. They require less power per port (under 4 watts per port) and less power per unit bandwidth than any other vendor."
The company also says, for example, that its Brocade 48000 "gets more done with less power" and that, "compared to competitive directors, they generate only a third of the heat, require less cooling and leave more power for other devices in a rack configuration."
And in regard to Cisco: "With the energy it takes to run an MDS 9513, you can run a Brocade 48000 and power a large American home."