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August 4, 2008

Nortel takes aim at Cisco with energy efficiency calculator

Nortel has launched a new tool, called the energy efficiency calculator, aiming to inform customers of potential savings by using its products ahead of Cisco's.

By Steve Evans

The system judges the network efficiency of a company using Cisco equipment and compares it to any potential savings, both efficiency and financial, a company could achieve using Nortel products.

The product began life in the government sales team in Nortel’s US office, as US governmental bodies are mandated to make environmentally-conscious decisions when signing contracts, according to Simon Wilson, portfolio leader, converged data networks at Nortel. He told CBR: The product was popular with the sales team, as it can display energy usage, financial savings compared to Cisco, and the carbon footprint.

The energy efficiency calculator was displayed at the Interop show in Las Vegas in May 2008. Wilson says that the popularity of the show forced Nortel to accelerate the development of certain components within the calculator ahead of the launch of the public web-based version. Wilson estimates that 6-8 weeks of development time went in to the product.

With the new web-based version, users can choose a basic test, using just the location of the company and the number of employees. This will calculate potential savings using average settings for each option.

Users then have the opportunity to customise individual settings, such as network location, energy rates, cooling efficiency and operational usage within the Business Environment section and more technical information such as quantity and make of server modules within the data centre, PoE and Non-PoE switches, and WAN router configuration within the organisation. This will provide a more detailed breakdown of any potential savings.

According to Wilson, all the information is independently validated. He said: We very keen for people to know that all the information is verified by a company called the Tolly Group. We realised that because of our position within the market, we need to justify what we said more than perhaps the market leader would. So we can absolutely back everything up.

The product is initially aimed at challenging Cisco’s dominance of the market, but Wilson says Nortel has plans to introduce other competitors to the comparison. The plan was to go out specifically against Cisco to begin with. They have between 65% and 75% of the market, depending on whose stats you look at, so for speed purposes we wanted to make sure we got the biggest hit to start with, said Wilson.

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He added that Nortel plans to add Alcatel-Lucent, HP and other vendors at a later date.

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