Network Management

Making Your Pipe Greener

Making Your Pipe Greener

Your reaction to this post may vary depending on your ‘green’ view. I am not a ‘green’ fanatic by any means but I actively try to do my part to keep the place we call home (earth) safe for the next generation. Bombarded daily by environmental commercials, I am also afraid of leasing penalties – after all, I am constantly reminded that I did not inherit this home from my parents and grandparents as I had been accustomed to thinking but rather I am leasing it from my son and the rest of his generation. Having seen his 2-year-old temper explode already, I am sure he would penalize me immediately if he found my behavior degraded his place of habitation in any way.

Earlier this week, the IEEE introduced a new initiative designed to make idle or underutilized Ethernet connections more energy efficient, which could mean huge electrical cost savings for large enterprises. The trick: finding a way to seamlessly throttle between 10Mbps and 10Gbps.

Per their announcement, “The standards outfit recently formed an Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) study group to explore how to do this. The idea is to save power in PCs and laptops (most of which ship with GigE cards now) when LAN links are idle, or not utilizing full bandwidth. Researchers estimate that U.S. companies could collectively save $450 million a year in power costs by using such a technology.”


“The study group is essentially refiguring the process of auto-negotiation — a link-detection technology in Ethernet, where a switch and NIC determine what speeds are supported (10/100/1000Mbps) and establish the link rate. EEE would make this a more real-time process on Ethernet networks. For instance, a GigE-enabled laptop would switch to 10Mbps when idle, maybe 100Mbps during low-bandwidth activities, such as e-mail or Web surfing, and burst to 1000Mbps when downloading large files or streaming video.”

My criticism here is not directed at the goodwill proposed or the benefits derived for I support both. I criticize the consistent lack of strong ROI stories I see in proposals like this. Imagine the resource cost of hours that will be spent studying this problem while in parallel bandwidth prices continue to decline thus inviting larger and larger purchases. In the end, the large consortium of American enterprise will look at this business case that saves $450M and respond with great conviction that we need a more compelling statement to buy-in.

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