Brocade joins 'greener than thou' brigade

Cisco blackened with carbon emissions

Brocade is singing its own green praises, saying its storage area network directors draw a third of the power needed by Cisco gear. Numbers don't lie it states and compares its own power usage figures with ones from Cisco-published information to show that Cisco customers pollute the planet nearly three times as much as Brocade customers.

IT directors are coming under pressure to go green. UK TV Channel Five's CIO, Ken Davies, said he had consolidated 25 physical Windows servers onto three VMware servers because it made green sense as well as making his IT resources more flexible, reliable and agile. He has also consolidated much direct-attach storage onto four EqualLogic virtualized PS arrays for the same reasons. Davies said: "IT is on Channel Five's green group because it is a big consumer of energy."

Brocade, hoping to ride on the green bandwagon, states on its website:

-- "Cisco directors are much less power-efficient than Brocade directors. According to Cisco's own documentation, the MDS 9513 draws more power per linecard and three times as much power (over 3000 watts) than the Brocade 48000. It is much less efficient, drawing up to 16 watts per port. In fact, with the energy it takes to run an MDS 9513, you can run a Brocade 48000 and power a large American home."

-- "(Cisco's) MDS 9513 draws so much power and generates so much heat that many OEMs will not allow more than one in a standard rack, or require they be installed in specialized racks that take up more than one floor tile. While the side-to-side cooling is driven by fifteen fans, they are contained in a single field-replaceable unit (FRU) meaning all fans must be replaced when a single fan fails."

- "The MDS 9513 has a much higher carbon footprint than the Brocade 48000 or Mi10000. Yearly CO2 emissions can be as high as 12,280 kg, 8 metric tons higher than the Brocade 48000."

Brocade quotes an ESG validation report to show that changing many individual switches for a single Brocade Director results in power savings.

Well, that's it then; Cisco's green color is thoroughly blackened. Brocade customers pour out 4.28 metric tons whereas Cisco's produce 12.28 metric tons, almost three times as much. Woe is Cisco, for it is undone. Consolidate multiple SAN switches onto a Brocade director and save the planet.

Cisco could not comment on these claims.

Perhaps not. A data center is composed of servers, storage, and networking gear. The ESG report states: "the biggest consumers of power in the data center today are cooling equipment, high-end storage and servers."

The actual SAN networking proportion of a data center's networking gear is probably less than half. Economizing on SAN director power alone will not save much of the planet at all while the rest of the data center burns power unabated. The ESG report states: "it should be noted that the cost of power may be relatively low in relation to the total cost of acquiring and maintaining a populated director." It's hardly worth spending £500,000 (US$997 million) to save £50/year on energy costs.

Let ESG have the final word: "While ESG believes that the test results presented in this report are valid, we recommend that IT and facilities managers work together with their suppliers to perform their own analysis based on their specific requirements. A number of factors can influence the results, including the services to be deployed in a storage network and the servers and storage required for a total solution."

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Chris Mellor
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