Green Networking: Parsing the Facts from the Marketing
This begs the question: how should network managers respond to such claims? If green networking is not desirable, then the answer is very short -- it is an irrelevant waste of everyone's time. So let us examine the more complicated scenario, where green networking is desirable.
If green networking is desirable, then surely the marketing points should go to those that are doing the most they can, or at least doing something other than what they would have done anyway?
A vendor simply going to the next smallest silicon process, in an orderly manner, is, I would argue, doing what they would have done anyway. So to call this "green" is to raise the question of what it means to be "green." On the other hand, an equipment vendor skipping a generation of silicon process, moving between silicon processes on an accelerated schedule, doing something about the fundamental power source, or power properties, has enough authenticity to pull off the green angle.
The goal of marketing is to sell, so whatever works is its own reward, and has merit with respect to that goal. However, sometimes marketing messages have to have a base of authenticity to work over the long run. Simply going to the next lower silicon process is always going to be authentic in the context of typical metrics such as price / performance and operating costs, and I have no argument with that. However, I think those people who really believe in green are not going to be so forgiving of "light green" marketing messages, they likely are going to want to see a tropical lush dark green message, or none at all.
It is a tricky issue. Obviously networking equipment becomes greener every year on a watts per bit basis, because equipment vendors ride a natural technology evolution curve. So there is a legitimate claim to "green." At the same time, how differentiating is it to be marketing a green message when an equipment vendor is simply riding the same technology curve as everyone else? Perhaps it could be argued that each subsequent generation of technology is enough to spur a new buying cycle simply on the basis of power and cooling savings?
What is your take? Will "green marketing" get the attention of network managers and will it make a difference to purchasing decisions? What does an equipment vendor have to do to look authentic with a "green" message?
Mark Seery has more than 25 years experience working in ICT including 10 years in network operations, 10 years in product management/marketing for networking equipment companies, and five years in market research and consulting. He is a guest columnist for GreenerComputing News, and he maintains a blog at interflect.com.
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