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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 testing equipment.

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 demands.

"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.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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