5 Key Steps for Building a Sustainable Network

5 Key Steps for Building a Sustainable Network

Written by Nathan Ashby,
Solutions Architect, Cisilion

Sustainability is a key consideration for us all and is frequently discussed by all business leaders, governments, and the media. This is vital for the benefit of the environment and the future health of our planet. While we all can make small changes in our own personal daily lives, it is important we hold ourselves accountable within our work as well.

Businesses are already making important changes to account for this and our role in IT is to provide thought leadership to nontechnical teams on further changes we can make to reduce our carbon footprint. This is something even more important than ever with changes such as the EU corporate sustainability reporting directive which will be enforced on some companies from 2024.


What can we do in IT to help businesses achieve this? 

Ultimately the first goal before starting any design is to focus on requirements. We should be ensuring sustainability is in our mind from the get-go by making it an explicit requirement. This could be as simple as reducing power consumption or ensuring all suppliers are using sustainable manufacturing practices. Starting by defining clear goals, ensures that we can measure the success of this based on our solution designs. Alongside this, we can innovate with technology to further achieve green goals. 

Your starting points can be as simple as these five key areas:

1 | UPOE+

Power over Ethernet is a simple and common standard which has been used in IT for around 20 years now. This is not new but has advanced dramatically since its early revisions. Newer revisions enable the ability for switches to provide up to 90W per port. With the ability to provide higher wattage, there are some innovative ways to make use of this elsewhere, reducing the potential power consumption of the overall IT footprint. USB-C to Ethernet Adapters provide the ability to charge modern laptops via the switches or by powering IoT services.

Many modern smart buildings have gone as far as having full PoE LED lighting, providing multiple levels of efficiency, from cost savings of reduced materials to install lights to power savings from powering them from the switches.


2 | Being efficient with UPOE+

While PoE will reduce your power costs from the perspective of having them run from the more energy-efficient switch, the more PoE draw required from a switch the higher energy consumption will be required. IT can help drive further efficiency by disabling this when not in use. Taking a simple scenario of powering down access points outside of business hours, can reduce energy consumption and further reduce carbon footprints.

This can be as easy as a policy to disable switch ports outside of working office hours or by using cameras to automate this based on the detection of an empty office.


3 | Sensors

Sensors can provide clear visibility into the environment of your working space, providing clear data such as detection for water leaks, air quality, temperature, and humidity. Gathering this data can enable us to make efficient changes, such as reducing heating or aircon usage and ensuring we have suitable controls in place to proactively control our environments.

These can be explicit IoT sensors or sensors built into the access points or within your video conference equipment! As such, it can be a case of enabling functions as opposed to explicitly procuring new ones.


4 | Utilise the Cloud

While strictly speaking the cloud is still consuming someone else’s power in their data centres, it can be a highly efficient move for businesses in their goals to reduce their carbon footprint. Infrastructure demands, Sservers, storage solutions, firewalls, and cooling, all add up quickly for any business hosting their own mini data centres in their offices or in their central rack spaces. Combine this with modern hybrid work, you may already be providing potential sup-optimal connectivity to these key business applications.

Likewise, many of these services enable the ability to easily scale based on demands. Many key cloud services now exist to replace your core firewalls or application demands, while providing a direct green impact to the business, such as using secure internet gateways as opposed to traditional firewalls in a central location to trombone all traffic outbound. 


5 | Energy Efficient Replacements

This may not be too shocking, modern IT infrastructure has proceeded to evolve to increase in compute, memory, or throughput capabilities but what is commonly overlooked is the power savings and reduction in hardware sizing to achieve these goals. New evolvements in standards such as WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E, provide more power efficiency than earlier standards along with a multitude of additional end-user benefits.

Likewise, recent routers and switches provide much higher performance and software benefits while reducing their heat outputs and power usage.


Your Next Steps

I am more than happy to discuss this with anyone interested or if you would like to understand how we can help you further please do reach out. In many cases, large amounts of these features and functions are built into the existing kit and need enabling as opposed to explicit procurement of new solutions. 

In the meantime, I will be hosting our “Revolutionising your Network” webinar on Thursday 14th September 2023 featuring Cisco’s Partner Systems Engineer which will provide invaluable insights, strategies, and best practices to help navigate the dynamic networking landscape with confidence. Fill in the form below to register: