Friday, 22 July 2011

Greening Your Institution's Network Systems Workshop

Despite just 3 expert presenters at last Wednesday’s Greening your Institutions Network System workshop in Bristol, delegates graded the workshop 8.45/10.Consisting mainly of FHE Network and ICT managers concerned about the energy use of their institutions switches, routers and cables, the workshop also consisted of researchers and representatives from the private and public sectors.
 The first presenter, Prof. Jaafar Elmirghani from the University of Leeds, presented on the Intelligent Energy Aware project. One of the findings Prof. Elimirghani shared with delegates was; the more efficient you make a network system the more people are incline to use it. This of course leads to an increase in network traffic and a corresponding increase in energy use. The Intelligent Energy Aware project is working on a solution to this problem. Researchers aim to find a way of maximise the energy efficiency of network systems so that it can handle the ever increasing number of internet users, while at the same time reduce its energy requirements.
Simon Palmer, the Systems Development Officer at Coleg Sir Gar in Wales covered what his FE college has done to reduce network related energy costs. His presentation entitled “Trying to save power and putting Gigabit to the Edge” focussed on the college’s use of switches and routers and through their replacement with more efficient equipment, the college reduced its network carbon footprint by 80%.   Simon’s closing remarks on greening network equipment was for network managers “not to replace old kit until absolutely necessary”.
Finally, from the business perspective Russell Davies from Cisco Systems showcased what the network giant is doing to help customers run more energy efficient systems. Russell’s presentation included an overshot on the difficulties public sectors organisations are faced with in terms of reducing their ICT related energy use but then offered a summary of the 10 recommendations from CISCO’s Operational Efficiency Report to help tackle those difficulties.  The presentation which is available on the EAUC’s website offers an array of sustainable network solutions and is work checking out. Russell then showcased CISCO’s new LAN products and demonstrated UCS (Unified Compute Solution) direct and indirect energy use. Network managers may find the following URL’s useful and
After the presentations were complete, the Q&A session commenced. Delegates seized the opportunity to question each of the 3 presenters on the topics they’d just covered.  One of the topics covered was the difficulty of accurately establishing the Ecological footprint of ICT and Network equipment. Prof. Elmirghani agreed that as manufactures don’t have all the necessary information on their products supply chain, an accurate EF cannot be established which makes designing the most sustainable network system more difficult. Perhaps this is an area within the wider green ICT spectrum that deserves more research. If any readers are aware of a research project that is examining the EF of ICT equipment please rely or comment to this blog.
The Coleg Sir Gar and Cisco System’s presentations are available on the EAUC’s Greening ICT with JISC webpage

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