Enterprise Networks Can Cut Emissions, Too

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From Energy Efficient Ethernet to a company’s own supply network, there’s a lot that networks can do to reduce a company’s environmental footprint, says 3Com’s Matt Walmsley

There’s plenty happening in networks to make companies more efficient, from new Ethernet standards, to better management. We spoke to 3Com’s UK marketing manager, Matt Walmsley


Sustainability is not just about getting the company’s ICT equipment to use less energy – IT also has a role to play in making the whole company more efficient and effective. Is that right?
A lot of the industry is focussed on increasing the efficiency of your current processwa, and not asking “how can I change the way I work?” The current economic crisis has almost forced people to stop and re-evaluate the way they do business. That’s about organisational efficiency.

We’ve worked with IDC, and they have a picture of three phases of sustainability. The first phase is ensuring that the equipment you are using is green – reducing power consumption and so forth. Then you come to a stage where you use IT to make a fundamental change in the way operations occur. The third phase is when they company has sustainability end-to-end. It lives it, breathes it, and becomes it.

3Com is as guilty as anyone of jumping on the bandwagon of power reduction. That’s very tangible and reduces our customers’ costs, but the real power is when they change the way they work. Digitise, not transportise!
Some companies are farther along this path. We worked with the Gtower in Kuala Lumpur, a multi-tenanted building which actually has a negative carbon footprint. From the ground up, it was built with special reflective glass, and air conditioning that monitored the CO2 levels when people were in a room.

Most people are still in search of near-term returns, doing more with less, and meeting the requirements of legislation – which may push them to reduce their carbon footprint further.

Basically, since we started in 1979, we have been involved in the IP plumbing; connecting applications to the people who need to do something with them. If we can help them do this quicker and for less, it frees up budget for other things.

In some ways, we’ve seen an upturn because of this. When I joined the industry in the early 90s, everyone was buying the latest box. After the dotcom crash, everyone became more risk-averse, and looked for stability. That’s when you saw the rise of the big players in any market segment. The Oracles, the IBMs, the HPs.

The Ciscos?
I’ve heard of those guys as well.

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