Cisco sets data center blast

Cisco touts new Nexus switches, enhancements to Catalyst line and software for controlling energy consumption

Enhancements for the Catalyst 6500 line include an In-Service-Software-Upgrade and support for long range integrated 10GbE optics to reduce the time needed for planned network maintenance and facilitate virtual machine mobility across data centers. The switch's Virtual Switching System software allows it to function as a virtual service node to a Nexus core network, Cisco says.

The Catalyst switches will also be getting some new IOS software that allows them to control the energy usage of attached devices. Called EnergyWise, the software was developed under the code-name 'Big Bang' and is included in IOS release 12.2(50).

EnergyWise is designed to proactively measure, report and reduce the energy consumption of IP devices such as phones, laptops and access points. The software includes application programming interfaces to Cisco third-party partner packages that will enable the management of power consumption for entire building systems such as lights, elevators and air conditioning/heating, Cisco says.

"By attaching more things to the network it allows you to make better decisions around energy," says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with The Yankee Group. "This can be extended to security as well -- you can turn cameras on in certain areas. So there's a lot of benefits for it."

Kerravala says Cisco's EnergyWise initiative is unique -- no other network vendor has developed a product for managing energy consumption across network and IT platforms, and building control systems.

Cisco EnergyWise will roll-out in three phases. In the first phase, Cisco EnergyWise will be supported on Catalyst switches and manage the energy consumption of networked IP devices such as phones, video surveillance cameras and wireless access points.

In the next phase, there will be expanded industry support of EnergyWise on IT devices such as personal computers, laptops and printers. In the final phase, Cisco EnergyWise will be extended to management of building system assets such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, elevators, lights, employee badge access systems, fire alarm systems and security systems.

Cisco has teamed with Schneider Electric for building utility management, SolarWinds for network monitoring and Verdiem for monitoring PC power. Cisco has also developed a so-called EnergyWise Business Value Calculator, an application that shows customers projected cost and Greenhouse Gas emission savings from EnergyWise and other Cisco products, such as TelePresence, WebEx and Unified Communications. Cisco said it also introduced adaptive power management functionality in its Wireless Control System to save power by enabling customers to turn off redundant radios during off-hours.

Cisco EnergyWise is a free software upgrade to existing Catalyst switches and will be available in February. It will support fixed configuration switches initially, with chassis-based systems -- the Catalyst 4500 being the first -- to follow on later.

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Jim Duffy

Network World

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