Green networking – a marketing buzzphrase?

Emir Halilovic, programme manager, Networking and Infrastructure EMEA for IDC says that lower energy consumption is a natural progression in hardware development

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Green networking – a marketing buzzphrase? Emir Halilovic of IDC says that green networking is primarily defined by lower energy consumption.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  May 16, 2012

Emir Halilovic, programme manager, Networking and Infrastructure EMEA for IDC says that lower energy consumption is a natural progression in hardware development

How do you define ‘green networking’?

It’s hard to define “green networking” - it’s a catch-all phrase used to describe primarily the trend of lower energy consumption and ecological footprint of the networking equipment. By and large, the biggest part of this is the lower energy consumption.

Green networking has become somewhat of a buzzword, it is a genuine trend in the industry, or is it a marketing ploy?

The semiconductor elements, used to build all IT hardware, including the networking elements, are getting more energy efficient. That means that the silicon used in the devices processes more with lower energy consumption, and thus dissipates less heat. Taken all together, all this naturally lowers the energy consumption. By using different software techniques, the energy consumption can be lowered further yet. It’s interesting to note that the progress in energy efficiency is not primarily driven by the desire to be “green”, but by the necessity of packing more processing power into the finite space of a rack or a data centre, all that while reducing the heat dissipation so that the cooling of the equipment can be achieved by the usual means. The fact that the new, efficient hardware also consumes less energy is an added bonus. In my opinion, rather than reducing power consumption for the sake of the environment, networking equipment vendors are reducing it because it’s a necessity of driving the innovation in their core business. The energy savings are palpable and real. How you spin it in the marketing message is secondary.

What recent trends/innovations have you seen in the green networking field?

I can’t say anything in particular, other than the fact that the silicon used nowadays is more efficient than the semiconductor elements used before. I’ve seen different figures from different vendors, claiming significant savings in the networking equipment power consumption. But in the perspective of the overall data centre, or IT infrastructure energy bill, networking is usually not the biggest part of the equation.

Has there been any real innovation in terms of green trends, or are the advancements, such as lower power consumption merely a natural advancement in the technologies?

The advancements are real, but in my opinion energy efficiency is not the first priority in designing networking equipment. It is in many cases a necessity that has to be built into the design, not with a mission of producing fuzzy feelings in the hearts of C-level execs that make buying decisions, but with a mission of reducing energy and cooling bills, and increasing the efficiency of the networking elements.

Do you think green networking will catch on as a major trend, for example like the cloud has?

As we progress into the near future where some data centres will grow to consume up to 65 MW (this is an example of a US government data centre, a bit extreme I admit), reducing energy consumption of all IT infrastructure, not just networking, will increase in importance simply because powering these facilities is becoming complicated and costly. It may not necessarily lead to nominal energy savings - in many cases it will just let IT managers shoehorn more processing powers into the power supply brackets they need to adhere to.

What are your predictions for the future of green networking?

New equipment will be more energy efficient inevitably - it’s either that or expensive cooling solutions and high energy bills.

Is green networking hardware more expensive than its less energy efficient counterparts?

It is hard to measure, because we don’t have a binary metering device that lets us easily segment the market into two parts - one ‘green’ and one ‘not green’. IDC doesn’t do testing nor are we able to check vendor power efficiency claims. Right now we don’t see energy efficiency as a major factor in pricing. It is a part of the TCO calculations, certainly, but I don’t think it’s very big in most cases.

2258 days ago
Jason Sutherland

Perfect PUE is also essential to green networking. In the mean-time our process here at, is committed to making sure that legacy IT network equipment is not only disposed, refurbished or recycled in an efficient manner, but can also bring value back to the data center as trade-in credit or sometimes even cash. Longevity is one of the optimal forms of being green.

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