I wrote on the LowerFootprint blog last week about how Nortel are putting it up to Cisco on the energy efficiency of their devices.
Nortel have taken it even further since then. They have just launched their Energy Efficiency Calculator. This calculator is supposed to take inputs based on the industry sector you are in, the number of employees or your location and report your potential energy or $ savings were you to choose Nortel equipment over Cisco.
However the number of possible inputs are way too limited (only 6 options for each). I’m a director of CIX, a data center based in Cork, Ireland. An ideal target for this kind of campaign, you would have thought. But the lowest number of employees I can select in the calculator is 500!!!, the industry sectors are limited to public sector, financial services or retail, and the location is limited to North America.
Worse there are only six possible outcomes no matter what input you choose! Guys, come on, you are doing yourselves no favours with this ‘calculator’.
And Cisco are pushing back too. Omar Sultan makes the valid point on the Cisco blog that Nortel’s figures are for routers and switches idling (i.e. not routing and switching). These figures typically bear no resemblance to the numbers for the devices when they are in use.
As he says himself:
a note to those of you with data centers: if you have switches in your data center that are plugged in and not doing anything, please unplug them now–it will help you with power/cooling and the polar bears will thank you too
Obviously idle time power consumption is a factor in a devices power rating but so too is power requirements during usage.
The upside is that both these companies are thinking about the carbon footprint of their devices and making quite a bit of noise about it which will have a trickle down effect on other vendors in the space.
All this goes to the point that we need industry agreed standards around how we measure energy efficiency. These then need to be converted to the likes of Energy Star ratings (1-5 where 1 is poor and 5 is super-eco, or similar).
As energy prices climb, these efficiency ratings will increasingly be the primary consideration in IT purchasing decisions.