Can Cisco Save the Planet?

Cisco announced this week an update to the operating system powering its ubiquitous Catalyst servers that will allow customers to monitor and regulate the energy consumption of any device connected to the network.

Dubbed EnergyWise, the free update to IOS is Cisco’s contribution to the Green Revolution infusing nearly every aspect of global existence today, especially in the realm of big businesses with branding aspirations, each of which wants to be perceived as working to combat the scourge of global warming.

With nearly 80 million IP telephones deployed across the planet, Cisco certainly has reach into Ethernet-powered technologies that account for as much as 2% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and the company has employed as many as 300 engineers during the past three and a half years to develop the EnergyWise program.

The guiding vision behind the program is “to go from always-on to always-available,” according to Laura Ipsen, Cisco senior vice president of public policy and government affairs.

The company estimates that turning off 50% of all IP phones and access points for 12 hours a day would save the equivalent energy used by 72,431 homes or 100 tons of coal. A 100-branch bank that shut off all its IP phones and access points overnight would save almost $40,000 per year.

Via TechDaily

More details on the rollout of Cisco’s EnergyWise technology after the jump.

Another phase of customer control expected to be deployed this summer will permit monitoring network-connected devices that draw power from the electricity grid, like PCs, that CIsco is enabling in partnership with IT power management company Verdiem, which is writing programs to the EnergyWise API.

A third stage, coming next year with the help of utility management firm Schneider Electric, will address building automation control. Buildings – with energy demands associated with powering, heating, cooling, and lighting – represent one of the greatest single contributors to greenhouse gases. Because many buildings are now “on network” Cisco hopes to be able to effect some positive change associated with building efficiencies and deployment of “smart grid” technologies.

The company’s efforts are laudable, to be sure, however there’s also a bottom-line upside to its efforts, according to Ipsen. “Smart grid implementation will be accelerated by so many governments creating economic stimulus plans to spur innovation in utilities,” she says. “Eleven billion dollars is the target in Obama administration. This is good for the environment and for reducing the costs of our customers. It’s green on green.”

Put another way, Cisco hopes it can help save the planet, increase market share and build shareholder value through development of EnergyWise technology. If true, it looks like a win for everyone.

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