The paper continues: "If an organization is serious about stabilizing or reducing emissions growth through the strategic application of IT, then it must consider all technologies. In the case of the network, given its ability to touch anything that consumes power, fixed or mobile, by definition it will identify more points of optimization than any other system."
Rated E for Efficiency
While companies such as Anagran, Brocade, and Cisco are demonstrating technologies and practices to wring the most energy efficiency out of the network, a forthcoming standard under development by the IEEE could have a significant green impact down the road.
IEEE Standard 802.3az, dubbed the Energy Efficient Ethernet, would enable network-connected hardware to throttle up and down between 10Mbps, 100Mbps, and 1Gbps, depending on the systems' needs at any given time. Lower speed, of course, means connected systems aren't working as hard, which in turn means lower energy consumption. (InfoWorld sister publication NetworkWorld has a good piece with more details about the EEE right here.)
According to Bruce Nordman, a researcher in the Energy Analysis Department at the Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Ethernet links are already capable of operating at lower speeds. The tricky bit is devising a way for the shift to happen quickly -- as in within 10 milliseconds -- to maintain connectivity.
The EEE could save $450 million in energy costs a year in the U.S. alone, according to researchers. Interestingly, the brunt of the savings -- $200 million -- could come from home computers, another $170 million from offices and $80 million from datacenters.