I was amongst those early risers fortunate enough to catch Chris Davis’s dawn slot “Connecting the Dots!” at Cisco Live Europe 2012. In his presentation, Chris laid out the market conditions which lie behind the announcements made at the event regarding the integration of Cisco Networks and Schneider Electric Energy Management solutions.
Published by Energy Star, “Fast Facts on Energy Use” (available for download from the Energy Star website) estimates that the United States’ 5 million commercial buildings and industrial sites have a combined energy cost of $203 billion. Staggeringly, Energy Star also estimate that 30% of “energy in buildings (is) used inefficiently or unnecessarily”. No doubt the picture in Europe makes equally depressing reading.
Cisco and Schneider Electric have overlaid this number with Gartner Dataquest’s “Forecast of IT hardware energy consumption, worldwide, 2005-2012” (you need to be one of Gartner’s paying guests to download this from the Gartner website, but their figures are widely reported). In doing so they’ve figured out that globally, 69 percent of buildings energy use is consumed by HVAC and lighting, while 25 percent is consumed by IT.
It’s a compelling case for two companies which are already trusted for so much of the world’s network, data center, power and building infrastructure, to design-in solutions which make it easy for customers to identify and eliminate a big chunk of wasted energy, and start saving cost and carbon emissions. So, is this high minded stuff or good CSR? Or is it a potentially pragmatic response to squeeze on operating costs which many organisations (and countries) are feeling at the moment?
One question is, what evidence is there that the integrated solutions offered by Cisco and Schneider Electric can really deliver on their promises? By way of response, Chris Davis’s presentation offered outputs gathered from a pilot being run in Portugal by the Ministry of Education. Here, the educational establishment under test had made 30% savings on IT energy, together with 6% OpEx savings from its total energy bill.
Here’s the rub, to really capitalise on the savings opportunities which these new solutions present is going to take an integrated approach to management and a step away from siloed departmental concerns. But this seems to be easier said than done. In the data center world we’re still talking about bridging the gap between IT and Facilities ten years after everyone agreed that this conversation was critical to ensure that IT services could be provided as required, when required and as efficiently as possible.
In this respect, integrating technologies will not provide the savings that could be achieved unless it is accompanied by some seriously integrated thinking between the gatekeepers of IT services, physical infrastructure and the buildings they are housed in. Chris Davis says that the companies that understand this need for integrated thinking are also the ones that stand to benefit the most from integrated energy management solutions such as those announced at Cisco Live Europe. Now these solutions are available, another question is, how does your business drive integration between those departments responsible for significant energy use in your organisation?