How Vendors Support Sustainable Networking Initiatives – TechTarget | Region & Cash

Networking and sustainability may be inappropriate terms. But with some innovation, the two concepts can coexist.

Typical computer networks require gigawatts of energy and electricity each year to run efficiently. For example, according to a 2018 research report, the internet – the most widely used network – is on track to consume 20% of the world’s electricity consumption and cause more than 5% of global CO2 emissions by 2025 Nature. Another study by ScienceDaily found that global greenhouse gas emissions from current information and communication technology are estimated at almost 4% and will continue to increase.

According to Forbes, 90% of executives believe that incorporating sustainability initiatives is important to business operations. For some, reducing their company’s carbon footprint is incentive enough to go green. For others, driving down costs and attracting environmentally conscious customers are bigger factors driving their sustainability efforts.

These sustainability efforts feed into every aspect of the business, from marketing campaigns to network operations. Traditional networking is incompatible with most sustainability strategies, so organizations must transform their power-hungry networks into conservative, green systems. Many network vendors, including Cisco, Juniper Networks, and RF Code, offer services to support these green networks.

Sustainable network strategies

Sustainable networking, sometimes also called Green networking, is a broad term for the application of sustainability practices to the operation and management of networks. Adopting sustainability practices can help network professionals reduce resource and energy consumption while maintaining network efficiency. Sustainable networking per se is not a new form of networking; Some approaches use new strategies, but other strategies do not require new methodology.

For example, network virtualization and server consolidation are two network strategies that create more sustainable networks. Some network teams have already implemented these techniques to save costs, increase security, or improve efficiency. Broadband and 5G-enabled wireless networks are examples of sustainable networks, as their use of radio frequency (RF) waves allows network teams to avoid installing expensive wires and cables for connectivity.

Most organizations with wireless networks use them for convenience, since wireless networks are cheaper and easier to deploy and manage. But another benefit of wireless networking is the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A 2022 report by the Wireless Infrastructure Association suggests wireless networks can reduce emissions by up to 16.5%.

Network teams aiming to simplify operations or reduce costs may inadvertently design sustainable networks. However, environmentally conscious organizations interested in building consciously green networks might consider adding specific sustainable network services.

Cisco

Cisco, a longtime sustainability player, has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040. Cisco uses a mix of different approaches to meet its sustainability goals, Kartika Prihadi, managing director of enterprise networking for Cisco’s APJC division, said in a recent webinar.

Cisco is also designing many of its products — like its network and data center infrastructure tools, IoT, security, hybrid work and automation tools — with sustainability practices in mind, Prihadi said. Strategies include the use of refurbished hardware, sustainable packaging, energy efficient designs and environmental monitoring tools.

hybrid work

Businesses can reduce their environmental footprint by adopting hybrid labor practices, Prihadi said. For example, allowing employees to work outside the office helps reduce factors that contribute to carbon emissions. Reducing business travel results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions as fewer people commute. Fewer office workers also mean organizations need less wiring, which reduces waste and lowers facility power consumption.

Sustainable network infrastructure

Smart buildings, workspaces and data centers can support hybrid work, which Prihadi says is the future of work. Cisco-enabled intelligent sites leverage the company’s sustainable network infrastructure services. Cisco designs network devices with sustainable practices in mind, and some technologies used to enable this performance include intent-based networking and automation tools.

“The convergence of isolated networks that power, connect and secure buildings – and the simplification of design and operations – enables the creation of a more energy-efficient or carbon-reducing design that is more flexible and agile,” said Prihadi.

Juniper Networks

Juniper Networks has entered the sustainability space with its Cloud Metro service, a new platform for MSPs to improve sustainability in network management. Organizations that have prioritized digital transformation (DX) are looking for new ways to innovate, modernize, and upgrade their network infrastructure. DX is often a double-edged sword as it can create both benefits and challenges for sustainability initiatives.

When upgrading a network, teams typically replace older systems with modern technologies, a routine known as tear and replace. Ripping and replacing infrastructure is usually a challenging endeavor and it can be easier to move to DX via the cloud where processes are digitized. Although cloud services can help reduce waste and carbon emissions, they also produce a lot of energy.

Cloud Metro aims to provide an alternative path to DX, extending the rip-and-replace lifecycle by up to seven years. With Cloud Metro, service providers can provision and troubleshoot services faster, simplify processes for network teams, and increase productivity. Cloud Metro’s use of AI technology also works to disable unused features and save power.

RF code

RF Code provides data center asset management and environmental monitoring tools. For example, its wireless RF identification infrastructure tool includes sensors and cameras that both monitor and collect information — like temperature and humidity — from a data center environment. Although the tool is designed for the data center, it also supports the entire network by scaling to edge networks, wired LAN closets or remote office locations, according to Marty Johnstone, senior product manager at RF Code.

The key way RF Code supports sustainability is by providing data center insights, Johnstone said. An environmental monitoring tool can quickly identify when the data center’s temperature is changing, giving professionals the power to troubleshoot the issue faster, become more efficient, and save money.

“You can’t be sustainable and not measure something if you don’t have insight into it,” Johnstone said.

Cyxtera, a data center colocation provider and RF code customer, has implemented sustainable practices into its network management and is working with providers whose sustainability goals align with its own, according to Thomas Cannady, Cyxtera vice president of network services. The company recycles, uses refurbished hardware and digitizes processes to reduce waste and lower its carbon footprint. Cyxtera also uses monitoring and visibility tools to determine KPIs and measure network infrastructure sustainability, Cannady said.

Cannady added that network professionals should not retrofit existing architectures to add sustainability, but should design networks with sustainability in mind. Cyxtera has adopted what he calls a “build-to-grow model,” meaning the network initially includes a small infrastructure that grows as demand increases.

Entry into sustainable networking

Despite the potential benefits companies can derive from sustainability, these practices have yet to become mainstream. While Forbes cites that 90% of executives believe sustainability is important, only 60% of companies said they have sustainability strategies in place, meaning more than a third of organizations have yet to go green. Some experts claim that this delay will be to their detriment, arguing that sustainability is mission-critical for business development and that companies without sustainability efforts will fail utterly.

For organizations to be successful in sustainability, they must prioritize reducing their carbon footprint—and can do so in a variety of ways. One of the most common methods is to reduce resource consumption wherever possible, including the network.

More forward-thinking companies may already have adopted eco-friendly strategies, such as B. Strategies for automation, network virtualization and cloud networks. Other organizations beginning their sustainable networking journey could benefit from using vendor tools and services that align with their sustainability goals.

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