Gigabit Ethernet deployment to end points, is this of any value in the majority of business environments of today? If it is not, why is it being specified regularily as a general requirement?
By John O'Grady Independent comms and energy management specialist.
Going back nearly 4 years ago, I can remember challenging the IP Phone vendors on their power performance, highlighting that the majority had no power off or power reduction capabilities. No one seemed to consider that deploying large volumes of IP phones in the always on mode was of any significance or concern. Inevitably, with focus on the environmental and energy consumption, the industry has taken action and changes have been made. Power performance is much more of an issue today, or so I thought....
All vendors declare their green credentials, but as we all know declaring and delivering are two different things, and I for one feel the jury is still out on many aspects of these “green credential” claims.
I would expect that today, when specifying a VoiP solution that requires a volume of IP desk phones, power would be a significant factor for consideration. With this in mind, I struggle to understand the growing trend for Gigabit Ethernet being specified for IP phones. As far as I am aware (I am waiting for someone to tell me different) this is not a general IP phone requirement and is nothing to do with VoiP so clearly it must be a 'Data' requirement. I do appreciate there are always niche requirements for high bandwidth utilisation from endpoints but these are usually specialist needs and not the norm (medical facilities, R&D groups, Design departments, etc).
Why the real concern?
Gigabit Ethernet consumes more power per device so you will use up to 20% more energy for a function that in most cases adds no benefit for the client, it is my suspicion that it also costs more to purchase, so why do it, isn't this an example of the 'herd' mentality prevalent in the IT industry? All vendors are forced into providing Gigabit options for their phones across the range because the dominant suppliers, supported by analysts chatter and consultants following blindly along specifying it as the 'must have capability'. If a vendor does not follow the trend, they run the risk of missing the boat when it comes to participating at the tender stages of a project.
Analysts talk about it, Consultants specify it, and customers think they need it so vendors produce gigabit enabled IP phones. The irony is that a requirement specification may demand Gigabit, but it is difficult to find evidence of actual deployment to endpoints, despite this, Gigabit switches are being specified as a requirement and implemented whether or not the end points will eventually use it.
A relatively modern standard structured cabling system is able to carry Gigabit Ethernet (Cat 5 and 6) to the endpoint but as I stated previously PoE requires approximately 20% more power than 10/100 Ethernet.
Maybe this is just technology progression demand growing for speed and greater capacity hence becoming standardized around Gigabit at a desktop level. If that is the case, the prices should come down, but I suspect that is not going to be the case.
We all know that energy cost will continue to increase so operationally the more power you consume the greater the cost to the business.
Guilty or innocent?
Are we right-sizing or max-sizing our IT requirements as users?
Are vendors pushing the technology to sell more, to churn more switches and end points without any real business benefit other than to add to the e-waste they like to produce?
Does energy efficiency really hold any significance to IT professionals; are they held to account for their energy appetite?
Tell me I am wrong, but I think the current verdict is guilty, I wait to be persuaded otherwise.
|APC PoE power calculations white paper.|
More demand for power to end devices now possible using PoE. Increase from 15.4W up to 60W using the new connection standards. (article)
A webinar from VoiceCon 2010 on the subject of 'How many phones do you need'. This discussion highlights the choices that we will be making when it comes to the 'phone'. (webinar link).
It is an hour long but worth listenning to in the background.