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

Our vision is that you should be able to plug the cables in and let the network worry about it. We want to move to a new kind of network management giving overall performance.

This will be more important as these become power delivery networks. We’re reducing overall energy use, but we are putting more power down the cables to power the end-point devices. That’s because we can replace inefficient wall sockets and transformers with a centralised system.

Is this dashboard a veiled product announcement?
Today we have software that would let us program in policies that would say turn down this link, or turn phones off at night.

I mention it because we have this radical idea. How about if you had a network management product that gave you one place to go to manage your network?

Today, most network management platforms are disparate. There are lots of applications that are good at one task – say, HP OpenView for topology – You manage wired ports here, wireless LAN there, and VPNs somewhere else. Some things have the same name across them, but they’re not unified.

If you had something that could give you that God’s eye view, you’d spend less time worrying what is going on across your network.

We just announced the intelligent management centre (IMC). The initial enterprise edition was launched a couple of months ago. Out of the box it manages 1400 Cisco devices and various other vendors’ kit as well as our own.

Now we also have a Lite version. It’s truly modular, based on SOA (service oriented architecture) so we can write modules and you can pick and choose. We could write a power control dashboard and plug it in.

No one else has something that is this integrated. If you want to roll out VLANs across your network, you don’t have to enter them twice in wired and wireless management systems.

Your wireless switch is based on Trapeze. Does that mean you replace Trapeze’s Ringmaster management system with something that integrates better with your network? Is that really an improvement? Because Ringmaster is one of Trapeze’s selling points.
In the wireless products we have based on Trapeze, we have a wireless manageer, WXM. Underpinning that is some Trapeze code, and technology from 3Com that integrates all those things together.

Trapeze has been a successful technology for 3Com. We can’t abandon those customers. Wireless is becoming more pervasive. People expect to have it. Organisations need to treat the wireless as an integral part of their network – that’s something we can do with IMC.

What are the big sustainable issues now?
I’m on the internal Green Team. When we talk to end customers, they don’t yet know how to measure and quantify the results of green ICT.

And they don’t get any credit if they do?
Exactly. I asked for a break down of our energy costs for IT. Today we can’t do that. This is fundamental. If you can’t measure it, how can you manage it.
The EU code of conduct for efficient data centres, uses metrics like how much electricity your data centre uses, versus the overall facility. That came out of the Green Grid work, and there is lots of work still to do, to robustly quantify energy use. I can show up with a marketing spreadsheet, but how do you measure it accurately?

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