The promise of energy cost cutting opens the door into virtualized data centers for cable companies, according to a panel of experts.
Virtualizing the data center empowers cable operators to slash energy costs and simultaneously improve revenue through enhanced service capabilities, creating a one-two punch that standards and open source have made increasingly difficult to resist. Liberty Global alone spent $180 million on electricity, said Dean Stoneback, senior director of Engineering and Standards at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) during a webinar on September 21, sponsored by SCTE's Energy 2020 initiative, Nokia and Cisco, with presenters from Heavy Reading and Comcast.
The goals of industry initiative Energy2020 include reducing power consumption per unit by 20%; slashing energy costs by a quarter; cutting grid dependency by one-tenth and optimizing technical facilities and data centers by 20%, he said. Add in the other benefits of SDN and NFV -- including automated operations, centralized and distributed infrastructure for improved scalability, and increased agility for enhanced services and creativity -- and cable operators have multiple reasons for adopting these technologies, according to panelists.
A Panel of Pundits
Cable companies need ways to rein in skyrocketing energy costs -- and NFV/SDN can do this, plus a whole lot more, according to participants in a recent webinar (Source: Light Reading)
Because electricity payments and data center operations typically fall under different corporate jurisdictions, the SCTE recommends data center operations gain the support of the chief financial officer, a powerful ally who typically helps propel investment in virtualization technologies for readily apparent energy cost-cutting, plus its other benefits, Stoneback said.
Added Samir Parikh, vice president of product management at Nokia: "The facility's footprint is just large. When you look at the impact of traditional physical devices … they consume a lot of power, a lot of space [and] they're very limited from a scale standpoint. As operators are dealing with the explosion of IP demand on the network, they're starting with how they can evolve the network in a cost-effective way and keep up with demand."
Plug in to benefits
While the opportunity to cut energy costs first opens corporate eyes to the benefits of virtualization, data center executives then should advance the technology's other positive impact on corporate initiatives, said Nagesh Nandiraju, director of Network Architecture at Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK).
As cable companies increase services -- now often looking to NFV and SDN as conduits for agility and flexibility -- pipe size grows and so does the amount of heat generated, causing a simultaneous rise in air conditioning needs, he said.
"The heat generated by that has to be cooled," said Nandiraju, noting that the transition to SDN helps Comcast manage and decrease heat-generation and subsequent cooling needs, reducing its related electricity costs.
In part that's due to development work done by vendors such as Cisco and Nokia, which seek to drive energy efficiencies within their products and the ways in which they interoperate with legacy systems, said Greg Smith, senior marketing manager of service provider marketing at Cisco.
"This transformation to virtualization actually comes with a big opportunity to transform resources we never had before," he said, noting that cable companies should consider this an opportunity to virtualize entire swaths of operations in order to reduce more energy costs, enhance new capabilities and add innovative services.
— Alison Diana, Editor, The New IP Agency. Follow her on Twitter @alisoncdiana or @The_New_IP.