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Issue 8, Feb/Mar 10


The telecoms industry seems keen to climb on the green bandwagon at last with the announcement of an industry-wide initiative to look for ways to slash the energy consumption of telecoms networks, with such luminaries as Bell Labs, Telefonica, Freescale Semiconductor and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) all leading lights in the so-called ‘Green Touch Initiative’.

By 2015 the Green Touch Initiative aims to create new network architectures and components to make communications networks ‘1,000 times’ more energy efficient.

Bell Labs (the research wing of telecoms equipment manufacturer Alcatel Lucent) will effectively lead the Green Touch consortium, aiming to produce ‘a new reference network architecture and demonstrations of the key components required to realise this improvement’ by 2015 at the latest. “This is an opportunity to reshape the way we think about the network,” notes Bell Labs research chief Gee Rittenhouse.

Such a move would have an impact not just on communications inside the data center and potentially impact how they are built, but all networks that transmit data. Key to the project’s plans seems to be a theoretical goal that ICT networks could run on a minimum energy level 10,000 times smaller than that needed today – although achieving that level of energy reduction was “impractical”. 


The Italian region of Lombardy is financing an experimental data center, set up by a group of public and private organisations, to research solutions and practices that increase data center energy efficiency.

The project, Energ-IT, has as its main goal the identification of a set of green re-engineering actions to be applied to legacy systems so that they don’t necessarily have to be replaced, objectively assessing related energy savings and comparing savings with current best-of-breed market solutions via the new test data center, which has been constructed to allegedly represent current state-of-the-art energy saving technology.

Energ-IT’s participants, apart from Regione Lombardia, include elements of Milan universities, systems integrator Beta80 Group, and Neptuny, provider of IT optimisation and resource planning tools.

Intriguingly, the Energ-IT idea of seeing how ‘green’ legacy system environments can be made, as opposed to replacing them with potentially more consumption-efficient kit, contradicts the November suggestions from IT industry research giant Gartner on the best way to save data center power.

In a November study the research group recommended replacing old technology with new, as modern equipment, such as servers, is built to be much more energy efficient than old legacy systems – as well as other moves such as boosting the use of air-side economisation, separation of hot and cold aisles and using server-based power management software to manage workloads based on power consumption. 



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