The networking vendor may be upping the power of its offerings in one regard -- showing off new Nexus switching equipment with enhanced capabilities -- but it's simultaneously working to cut down on its products' power in another way: their energy consumption.
Starting this week, the company said its Catalyst offerings would begin supporting a new effort dubbed EnergyWise, which aims to more effectively manage energy consumption.
The new efforts from Cisco together aim to capitalize on enterprises' efforts to save money by consolidating their networking assets -- doing more with less. That's become an important mantra for IT shops struggling to cope with the economic downturn and slashed budgets. For Cisco, the thinking is that it can cash in by positioning the network as the hub for regulating a large portion of enterprises' energy use.
"This is really about the notion that the network is the platform," William Choe, Director of Ethernet Switching told InternetNews.com. "Given the pervasiveness of networks and given that anything that connects to the network has a centralized platform, the network provides the multiplier effect on how you can deliver energy savings."
The idea behind Cisco's new EnergyWise program is that IT can manage the power utilization of networked devices by using an open software API (define) residing on its Catalyst switches. Third-party device vendors have to support the API, but Cisco is wagering that EnergyWise's benefits to customers make it advantageous to join in.
Cisco is planning on rolling out the EnergyWise program in stages, with the first stage available in February for Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices, which already are controlled by Ethernet connectivity, with power and data traveling over the same cable.
Starting in the summer of 2009, Cisco will begin expanding the program to non-PoE devices. Choe explained that the plan is to have a software agent that would interact with Cisco EnergyWise for power management on personal computers and peripherals.
By 2010, Cisco said it expects to expand the effort even further, adding support for building infrastructure control elements like lights, elevators and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
The EnergyWise effort according to the current roadmap is focused on Cisco's Catalyst switching lineup for deployment. While it's not currently supported by Cisco's Nexus, which is Cisco's next-generation switching technology for datacenters, Choe said this may change.
"We are currently evaluating an insertion point for the Nexus," he said. "We don't have specific timelines for the Nexus family. We have heard customers' requests that there is value in providing this capability in the datacenter, so we're looking into it."
Nexus lineup updates
Cisco's also adding new cost-cutting, consolidation-friendly enhancements to its Nexus switches, introducing three new additions to the lineup: the Nexus 7018, Nexus 5010 and Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extender. The Nexus platform first debuted a year ago with the Nexus 7000, joined in September by the Nexus 5000 which includes virtualization capabilities.