How Green are Your Switches?

Power Consumption of Cisco 3560 and 3750 v2 Switches

The Green Initiative has certainly caught on. Pens made of cardboard, the short-lived paper straws at McDonald's, and even bamboo paneled laptops. There have been a number of ideas, both good and bad, on how to save the environment. Some of these ideas come direct from network manufacturers. We can all agree that creating less waste and being more efficient is a good thing, but not every plan survives contact with the enemy. Enter the Cisco 3560 and 3750 v2 switches. Bad idea? Certainly not. Especially in a world where power consumption costs billions of dollars. Recently I read an article about UK data centers and how they consume enough energy to power 6 million homes. That is expected to grow 6.7% into 2012. The potential to save energy and money is of interest to everyone. There is a huge focus on the data center. So are the v2 switches a compelling reason to yank the switches you have now? Probably not. First of all, they are only available in 10/100 – so that may be a determining factor for you right away. On top of that, before you run into your closets and start pulling out infrastructure, take a close look at the power section of the datasheets for the v2 switches. Let's take a look at one as an example. The 3750-24PS clocks in at about 57w at 100% throughput power consumption. So now, if we look at the equivalent v2 switch, we expect to see some significant power savings. For the 3750V2-24PS, also at 100% throughput power utilization, we clock in at 54w. That’s 3 watts. Not enough to power a light bulb. Now, before we get torches and pitchforks, let’s look at the other side. If every switch in the world saved us 3 watts, it would add up to something significant. However, if you have a smaller network and you are thinking about pulling out your infrastructure to go green with v2 switches, it certainly doesn't seem worth it. Is the v2 switch a terrible idea? Again, no it isn't. Like most things in life, it's not for everyone and it pays to look at the details and evaluate for yourself, and your network, what makes the most sense. Let’s also consider the energy costs that go into to manufacturing a new switch, as well as what happens to the switch it’s replacing. Often, the best thing we can do for the environment is keep our existing infrastructure, instead of letting it end up in a landfill. E-waste is one of the fastest growing segments of our world’s garbage, and organizations should be thinking about how they can minimize their contribution to that number. While reselling and recycling used electronics is an option, maintaining current infrastructure is certainly the easiest solution. Going green and conserving energy is everyone's problem. It's important to look at ways to be more efficient in the data center. There are many ways we can do so, just make sure you know what you are getting when you do. Dig deeper than the green hype. Your wallet will thank you.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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