Going Green: Tips and Tricks for a More Sustainable Network

The adoption of green networking practices offers enterprises a rare opportunity to make a business decision that improves both the bottom line and the world.

In many ways the internet has made the world a better place, but it has also exponentially increased the amount of electricity it needs to function. Data centers alone consumed 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014, amounting to a full 2% of the country’s entire energy consumption.

To stop the problem of IT electricity consumption before it grows exponentially worse, organizations of all kinds must learn to conduct their computing and networking operations in a more efficient, more mindful manner. The upside of this imperative, however, is that green IT can put a significant dent in an enterprise’s energy bill — not just in the long term, but almost immediately after adoption.

The Importance of Energy-Efficient Hardware

There are a number of steps that IT administrators can take to reduce their enterprise’s energy consumption and shrink its carbon footprint. Most intuitively, enterprises can invest in energy-efficient hardware.

Just as things like LED light bulbs have become increasingly popular among consumers, things like green networking switches have begun to pop up more and more in enterprise IT. Not only do these switches require less energy to function, but they also generate less heat than a standard switch, meaning networking centers can scale back the use of cooling devices like fans that themselves consume energy.

Because the vast majority of green hardware has been designed and manufactured very recently, these networking components tend to include state-of-the-art management capabilities. When paired with cutting-edge energy management software, green hardware can be programmed to immediately “go to sleep” as soon as it isn’t in use. This saves remarkable amounts of energy, as hardware downtime typically accounts for just as much energy use as uptime does.

As important as energy-efficient hardware ultimately is, enterprises shouldn’t immediately replace each and every piece of their existing networking infrastructure. Doing so is itself wasteful, especially if the enterprise’s system is fairly new. What’s important is that enterprises begin to educate themselves on the benefits of green hardware and make concrete plans to phase in energy-efficient infrastructure as their current infrastructure becomes outdated.

Using Green Hardware Efficiently

While energy-efficient hardware is a vital first step toward a more sustainable network, its value will largely depend on how it’s used.

Enterprises can reduce their energy use significantly by consolidating their network activity, which can happen in a number of ways. For instance, large amounts of unnecessary data clog an enterprise’s network and force it to work harder than it needs to in order to deliver consistent performance. By compressing and de-duplicating data compression and by offloading unused server storage, an enterprise IT team can ensure that it isn’t gobbling up electricity to manage redundant or useless information.

Partners in Preservation

Ultimately, sustainable IT largely comes down to minimizing waste by right-sizing one’s networking infrastructure. That being said, poor network design isn’t always an enterprise’s fault. Today’s wireless networks are expected to cope with an ever-growing list of demands, including numerous sources of interference, high user and device density, and high-bandwidth applications. As such, it’s perfectly normal for even the most experienced of enterprise IT teams to struggle with gauging the most efficient configuration for their network.

Fortunately, Turn-key Technologies has decades of experience conducting wireless site surveys and administering in-depth network assessments, and we’ve developed the expertise necessary to help any enterprise right-size their networking infrastructure.

By Craig Badrick

October 25, 2017

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