Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
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Gary Audin | June 28, 2009 |


Managing LAN Switch Power

Managing LAN Switch Power The cost of power as an expense is now closing in on the cost of the ICT staff. You can always fire, retire or furlough staff, but not power.

The cost of power as an expense is now closing in on the cost of the ICT staff. You can always fire, retire or furlough staff, but not power.

Enterprises are finally realizing that their ICT energy bill is rapidly growing to the point where the IT management has to pay attention. The cost of power as an expense is now closing in on the cost of the ICT staff. You can always fire, retire or furlough staff, but not power.There are four elements to power management and control:

1. Measure the power that is used by what, and when 2. Develop policies, actions and responses to the power usage 3. Measure the power reduction and cost savings 4. Verify the power delivery and the policies are in force

Cisco, like many other vendors, is offering mechanisms to measure, manage and reduce power consumption. This blog will focus on the Cisco approach. Check with your provider if you use other brands like HP or Extreme. They have equivalent energy measurement and power conservation products.

Cisco has introduced their EnergyWise architecture for the Catalyst switching products. This is an intelligent network-based approach for measuring and controlling energy consumption between network devices and endpoints (IP phones, PCs, Wireless APs...).

EnergyWise manageable devices are "discovered" and then monitored for their power usage. The ICT management can take actions based on business policies for power consumption. There are management interfaces in the Cisco products that allow network and facilities management applications to communicate with the manageable endpoints. The management interface uses SNMP to integrate with third party management systems. Cisco provides an online tool that can be used for estimating the power savings by implementing EnergyWise. This tool, "Cisco EnergyWise Business Value Calculator" is available here (Flash). This tool is only for guidance purposes.

This is where SolarWinds enters the picture. SolarWinds is a launch partner with Cisco for developing the management software to work with Cisco's EnergyWise products. I spoke to Sanjay Castelino, Sr. Director of Product Marketing for SolarWinds about their Orion family of products and their support for Cisco EnergyWise management and monitoring. Sanjay said the there are two basic functions that are necessary to ensure energy conservation:

1. Monitoring the power consumption 2. Implementing policies that reduce power consumption

The SolarWinds Orion products for network managers--Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) and Orion network Configuration Manager (NCM)--have the energy management function integrated. Network operators can view the network performance and power performance simultaneously. Here is a screen shot from Orion NPM. The right hand side of the screen displays network information. The left hand side displays the power consumption and energy savings over time.

The Orion product family enables energy management by following these four steps:

1. Run an Orion Network Performance Monitor EnergyWise readiness report to find all EnergyWise-supported devices on the network. 2. Use Orion Network Configuration Manager to complete a batch update of the IOS for each device to a level that supports EnergyWise features. 3. Select which energy policy settings you want to use to start managing the network's energy consumption. 4. Report on the network's energy consumption and savings from the web console.

This is what the policy calendar looks like:

The benefits of using a management tool for energy conservation are:

* Reduce energy consumption by managing power consumption policies on network devices * Report on energy consumption and savings over specific time periods * Graphically compare maximum power consumption vs. current power consumption across all of the EnergyWise enabled devices * Preview EnergyWise policies using an energy management calendar

SolarWinds provides network management software to more than 80,000 customers worldwide, from SMBs to large enterprise. The company's range of software solutions and tools helps IT teams to get the most out of their corporate networks. SolarWinds has a growing online community, called thwack that offers its 20,000+ members problem-solving and technology-sharing for all of SolarWinds' products. More information can be found at The cost of power as an expense is now closing in on the cost of the ICT staff. You can always fire, retire or furlough staff, but not power.


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