Ixia, Juniper Start Counting Green
The Energy Consumption Rating (ECR) is meant to provide a repeatable measure of power consumption for a given piece of equipment, producing results measured in Watts per gigabit per second. Based on set scenarios, it's an attempt at creating a standardized green metric applicable to all varieties of networking equipment. (See Juniper, Ixia Measure Green.)
"The goal is to attract other vendors and telecom service providers and make it a little bit broader, which would help force the issue a little bit with other standards," says Luc Ceuppens, a senior director of marketing at Juniper.
The idea and the corresponding ECR Initiative got introduced yesterday in a small seminar at Ixia's iSimCity lab, here.
Ixia got the itch for this idea after launching IxGreen, its energy-efficiency testing procedures, at Interop in May. "We were already getting a lot of inquiries from service providers regarding different kinds of energy efficiency tests," Ixia CEO Atul Bhatnagar says. (See Everything's Gone Green.)
The company recruited Juniper and Lawrence Berkeley into the three months of discussions that led to ECR. Juniper was the first company to try it, running the T1600 core router through the tests.
(Did Ixia try pinging Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) first? "We talk with everyone," is all Bhatnagar will say.)
ECR is derived by running the equipment through a series of scenarios. Peak power gets measured, but it's also important to see what happens during lower utilization levels, considering nearly all network ports go through inactive periods.
"If you look at even the busiest networks in the world, they still have their periods of silence," said Juniper engineer Daniel Kharitonov during his seminar presentation.
Development of the testing procedures therefore involved "looking into the switch design and the component level design to make sure the right subsystems turned on that the right time," says Anupam Sahai, Ixia vice president of marketing.
The idea here was to create one set of procedures, based on concretely measurable results, that could serve as an industrywide benchmark. To that end, it had to be crafted as something a third party would run -- Ixia, for now -- and had to give repeatable answers. ECR results have been coming out within 2.5 percent, Kharitonov says.
Ixia and Juniper intend to submit ECR to standards bodies -- whether that means the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) or something more focused, like The Green Grid, is yet to be determined. The ECR specifications could get refined before that happens; the ECR Initiative is touted as an open forum, so it's likely that more companies will want to provide some input.
The Initiative might have to fight for attention. The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) is also working on energy efficiency testing requirements, and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has come up with testing requirements of its own.
"In the area of IT, there's been a lot of interest in the last four years," said Andrew Fanara, a project development team leader who works on the Energy Star program at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) . Most of that interest has been focused on servers, however. Applying the concept to networking equipment was further down the to-do list for the agency.
The EPA expects to start that work "early next year," Fanara told Light Reading at yesterday's event. "It will be well informed by what's happening here. It looks like the industry's saved the government a lot of money."
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading