Cisco Making 'Green' a Company Priority
If enterprise IT organizations are going to meaningfully reduce their carbon
footprints, they're going to do so first by tackling low-hanging fruit -- e.g.,
power-hungry servers, storage and networking gear.
Cisco Systems Inc. has already made
much of its green bona-fides, at least with respect to its IronPort
appliance product line.
This week, Cisco took an even more ambitious step, pledging to reduce its carbon
footprint by 25 percent over the next four years.
"We are innovators at Cisco, and we believe that the best way to achieve
a more sustainable impact is to rely on innovation and our technology to help
us solve problems," Cisco EcoBoard co-chair Laura Ipsen told Cisco's in-house
PR organ, Cisco News. "Our No. 1 goal here is to use less energy -- and we're
going to do that by drawing on the power of technology to make things smarter."
In many cases, Cisco plans to rely on its own technology, Rx, to execute on
its ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction schedule. Not that the networking
giant won't also take concrete steps to eliminate some of the most glaring sources
of GHG emissions.
For example, officials pointed out, Cisco's labs and datacenters -- which contribute
significantly to its overall GHG emissions -- will eventually make use of several
energy-saving measures, starting first with a switch to more efficient lab or
The company also plans to invest in "smart" power distribution units that can
actually power down machines when they aren't in use. It will also make aggressive
use of virtual network storage and, of course, "greenify" its mechanical
and electrical systems.
Elsewhere, Cisco plans to increase its use of collaborative technologies (such
as Cisco TelePresence and Cisco WebEx) to help reduce business travel, which
officials say accounts for more than a quarter of its overall GHG footprint.
(On that note, Cisco claimed it has already decreased air travel-related emissions
by "at least 10 percent per employee.")
Cisco also plans to deploy its Cisco Connected Workspace technology -- which
Cisco said helps create a "hybrid" office environment -- at additional sites
around the world. At Cisco's San Jose, Calif. headquarters, officials claimed,
Cisco Connected Workspace has "significantly" cut back on per-employee electrical
"Every corporation has a responsibility to help address climate change and
to minimize the impact of its operations on the environment," said Cisco
CEO John Chambers in a statement.
Chambers outlined Cisco's ambitious vision at his company's Cisco Live! Confab,
held this week in Orlando.
"Cisco is approaching this challenge not only by curbing our own company's
greenhouse gas emissions but also by taking advantage of the power of networking
technology to better manage our environmental concerns," he said.
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.