The communication industry is looking for new and innovative ways to become greener. Going beyond travel avoidance, beyond RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and beyond WEEE (Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment) compliance, the Green Telco World Congress 2009 http://www.upperside.fr/greentelco2009/greentelco2009program.htm focused on ways to make communications more energy efficient and discussed standards and initiatives in this area.
Standardization bodies are working on specifications for efficient energy consumption. ITU-T has a Focus Group on ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and Climate Change that is investigating the energy consumption throughout the communication product lifecycle and working on definitions and standard measurements for energy efficiency. ETSI is looking for innovative technologies to avoid active cooling and has already released a standard for minimizing energy consumption in broadband devices. The European Commission released European Union’s Code of Conduct on Data Center Efficiencies in October 2008. IEEE is working on a new standard for energy-efficient Ethernet (802.3az) – this is considered a low hanging fruit for huge energy savings as 90% of network traffic is originated on an Ethernet port.
The Congress was a gathering of industry and standardization experts, service providers and vendors from Europe, United States and Japan involved in green initiatives and projects.
Network equipment vendors have started competing on energy consumption. Verizon is the first US service provider to put limits on power consumption per network equipment type for everything they buy after January 1, 2009, and this is making Cisco, Juniper and Nortel look for areas of power savings. Juniper’s presentation analyzed the options to save energy on component, system, and network level while Nortel presented its green calculator which compares a Nortel and a Cisco network in terms of energy consumption. Cisco talked about the Connected Urban Development program which started in San Francisco, Amsterdam and Seoul, and now also includes Hamburg, Lisbon, Madrid and Birmingham. The GSM Association and vendors Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens and Nortel talked about energy efficiency in mobile networks.
Another hot topic was energy efficiency in data centers. Brocade talked about approaches for energy-efficient storage, HP - about energy efficient blade servers. Virtualization, i.e. the ability to run applications on a pool of distributed hardware, promises additional efficiencies but only about 10% of applications are virtualized today. Customers require certain quality of service for their applications to agree and move away from the traditional approach where the application runs on dedicated hardware with predictable performance. Several speakers with data center background talked about the trend towards increasing operating temperature in data centers which leads to less energy consumption for air conditioning and chillers. Higher operating temperatures also call for advanced power management in the communication equipment itself.
My presentation focused on the wider adoption of HD in telepresence which allows higher adoption of video and travel avoidance (this theme was supported by HP and Cisco) but also leads to increased performance requirements for conferencing servers in data centers. The talk further analyzed the criteria for selecting a scalable architecture that uses energy prudently and prolongs product life. It provided the rationale for Polycom’s decision to base its new conferencing platform RMX on the standards-based AdvancedTCA architecture.