Industry Market Trends

Energy Management Offerings Get More Robust

Nov 22, 2013

ID-100104791In a world where everything is increasingly connected, connectivity providers like Cisco Systems are touting the advantages of linking various elements of an enterprise (such as people to people, machines to people, machines to machines) through the Internet of Everything (IoE). One significant benefit of such linkage is energy savings.

Cisco had already taken a deep dive exploring the opportunities in the energy management space with its EnergyWise software, but now it has taken a further step with the acquisition of Joulex, an enterprise energy management specialist. The highly regarded Joulex toolset has been incorporated into an expanded EnergyWise Suite.

Think about all the equipment that is running all the time in the millions of buildings around the world. Is it possible to operate them in standby mode or turn them off? No one can afford to have little energy genies running around and turning off lights and equipment that have been left on unnecessarily. But with today's technology, we don't have to.

Many enterprises, large and small, really don't know how much equipment is running at any given time or how much power is being consumed. Discovery services, like those that are part of Cisco's new EnergyWise Suite, identify energy use, providing a comprehensive benchmark for IT assets. In many cases, this step alone has led to the development of an informed, cost-saving energy management strategy.

Depending on the industry, IT can be a significant portion of the energy expense. Telecoms, for example, spend as much as 80 percent of their energy budgets on IT. Savings can be enhanced with the use of energy optimization services, which offer visibility into data center energy use for all physical and virtual devices.

In a series of webinars designed to roll out the new acquisition, Cisco featured representatives from various institutions that have benefited from the use of this technology, including a school district in Indiana, a hospital in the Netherlands, and a bank in Germany.

Steffen Schmidt of the German savings bank Sparkasse said the application of energy management tools helped them to identify and exploit opportunities to save energy in the company's network of energy-hungry ATM machines. For example, they now leverage redundancy when there are multiple machines in one branch. They have the option to turn one machine off to save energy during periods of low usage.

Schmidt said that this approach has saved $250 per machine per year. Considering that the company maintains 7,000 ATMs, that represents a savings of $1.75 million.

"You can see what kind of impact you can have, not only through your bottom line," he says in the webinar, "but more importantly you can use this to make your customers understand that you are really focusing on and caring about the environment."

This same technology and know-how can also be applied to network-connected vending machines and kiosks where one can expect similar results.

But it is probably in the workplace where the opportunity is greatest, Cisco marketers say. Studies have shown that a typical workplace device is left on for an average of 8,000 hours over its life, but generally only used 25 to 50 percent of the time.

Cisco's EnergyWise Management for Distributed Office software can automatically discover idle computers and printers on the network and provide real-time energy consumption without the need for hardware metering or client side software. This allows energy managers to automate policies that can actively change the power states of office equipment based on their utilization and energy consumption.

Cisco is partnering with Schneider Electric, Johnson Controls, and Honeywell to go beyond network devices and into building energy management.

"To us, a watt of wasted energy is a watt that is being consumed by an IT system that is not being used productively," said Tom  Noonan, general manager of the EnergyWise business. "Whether that is a printer, a copier, a router, a switch, a PC, or a wireless access point that's on all weekend with nobody connecting to it, is waste. What about a telephone that is left on all weekend? This is a very large scale system problem which is why we use the network to solve it, because the network gives us the ability to scale."