Networks go green and save you money

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For example, Cosgro claims that HP's current ProCurve equipment can run safely at temperatures up to 130 degrees -- higher than the specifications for most other data center equipment. "That's driven by requirements of IT managers who want to run data centers at higher temperatures," he says.

Higher operating temperatures may work in a single-vendor wiring closet, but network equipment vendors will need to do a better job of testing in mixed environments before temperatures approaching 130 degrees can be sustained -- especially within racks in the data center. "No one knows how networking and other types of equipment will react when sitting next to servers that displace more BTUs," says Drue Reeves, an analyst at Burton Group.

Today, each vendor tests with only its own equipment.

Another focus: improvements in power monitoring, and management with more granular controls. Real-time power and temperature monitoring is key to any data center and is essential for managing growth. "If something is not right, you want to know about it before a catastrophe happens," says Rockwell Bonecutter, global lead of Accenture's green IT practice.

Management software could be configured to identify specific network equipment, such as voice-over-IP phones, by using the Link Layer Discovery Protocol. The software could then automatically shut off Power-over-Ethernet current for those VoIP handsets at a specific time of day or when the associated PC on each desktop is turned off at day's end.

Another example: Edge switches are typically connected to two routers for redundancy during the daytime, but the network could be configured such that one router goes into a low-power sleep mode at night. The second router would "wake up" only if and when it was needed.

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