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"Greening" your Unified Communications Environment


The topic of Green UC in the Enterprise IT space has waxed and waned over the last couple years, primarily due to 2 factors: 1.) The viability of Green technology as it applies to Enterprise UC requirements ("fit for use") and 2.) Perceived and real economic advantages - ROI/Payback of the solution. I believe this approach to improving the sustainability of ones Green UC footprint is constrained by efforts to measure UC and accompanying Endpoints as standalone elements unto themselves, as opposed to its existence within a much larger Enterprise IT and Building Operations ecosystem.

To begin - the need for greater applications, speed and flexibility is pushing UC endpoints  to be more power hungry as opposed to less. Competing interests are at play: ie Feature Rich vs. Clean. This makes perfect sense as USB interfaces, Bluetooth compatibility, Imbedded Video (Tandberg) all require a higher amount of power (Class 4 power rated as opposed to legacy Class 3). If measured solely on this basis it would appear that there is negative movement on UC's ability to reduce its power consumption requirements.

A marriage of industry trends and practices, vertical and competitive norms and client specific design will allow for the most effective approach to your UC Green effort.

Cisco UC has ROI Calculators developed and certified by a Domani (An industry leading environmental consulting firm). The UC investment payback period for most customers is very rapid (many are less than one year). As competitors still work to paint Cisco as inefficient be aware of the inaccuracy in most product comparisons:

  Generic power consumption figures (15.4Wat idle instead of 3W at idle)

  Inaccurate power consumption costs

  Testing results/test figures

So - how do you create an environment which marries the best of breed concepts in Green that will allow for the application/productivity support required while at the same time maximizing your green potential? In short - The Network. By realizing that UC is a component of the overall network AND Cisco has developed applications to maximize its efficiency you can best approach your Green Unified Communications Goals. Examples of the Network Lead Approach include:

IP Phone Features - Cisco has multiple features imbedded in Communications Manager (Call Manager) and its various endpoints to maximize their energy efficiency including:
  • Cisco Unified IP Phones leveraging CDP: with CDP Cisco enpoints can more accurately negotiate switch power requirements
  • Power Save Plus: Allows the Energy Wise domain to track and control of power within the customer premise
  • Display Idle Timeout Setting: CUCM has the ability to instruct color phones to shut down their screens - saving .5 W per device

Cisco EnergyWise - Can power off devices that are powered via Power Over Ethernet (PoE)
Supported devices include:

Cisco Unified IP Phones, Cisco Aironet Access Points, Cisco Video Surveillance IP Cameras, desktop PCs, laptops, and other PoE-compatible devices

  • Allows selective power shutdown to switch ports based on a predetermined schedule
  • Shutdown event is indistinguishable from an unplanned event from the device perspective
  • Devices recover via the normal processes that are in place today
  • High-priority devices do not shed load, while lower priority devices can shut down or reduce power

EEM Script - Cisco switches and the Cisco IOS® Embedded Event Management (EEM) system will allow ports to deny power to Cisco Unified IP Phones

  • The EEM scripts are activated at a predefined time, typically after all users have left for the day
  • The script identifies all inline-powered line cards and shuts down inline power for all ports on that module
  • The script identifies all inline-powered line cards and shuts down inline power for all ports on that module

Example ROI:

  8.3W x 5,000 off hrs x $.11/kWhr = Savings of $46K per year for 10,000 phones


Cisco EnergyWise Business Value Calculator 

LMS Discovery for EnergyWise and EnergyWise Readiness Reports                                                                                                                     

Webex Carbon Calculator                      

In addition to the tools and software the appropriate network design and hardware component should be leveraged:

Building Control and Power Consumption: Cisco Network Building Mediator is the industry's first solution that extends the network as a platform to transform the way buildings are built, operated, and experienced. The Mediator provides a network-based framework that interconnects four key systems: building, IT, energy supply, and energy demand. The integration of these disparate systems onto an IP network leads to a truly converged, energy-efficient building.

Integrated Router and Switching Platform:

  • ISR platform can consolidate several disparate devices (router, switch, application acceleration device, and wireless access point, etc.) into a single platform, reducing the physical space requirements
  • Individual modules can be powered off when not in use
  • Reduces overall management expense through the elimination of support for several network devices vs. 1
  • Ideally suited for branch office deployments and should be leveraged for UC design where possible

The ability to drive energy efficiency within the Unified Communications space requires a seamless integration of endpoint needs, network architecture, building operations and operational efficiency/auditing. The overall design and delivery needs to drive towards a Network centric architecture in order to drive the highest degree of "Green". This space continues to grow and evolve which will require the practitioner to grow and evolve their understanding of Green and its ability to interact with UC and the Network.


The ROI calculator link is a wwwin URL, which isn't accessible externally.  Can you update this link?  Thanks!


Thanks for catching that - I removed that link as the updated information is available in the EnergyWise Business Value Calculator mentioned directly below the other URL

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