Brocade is singing its own green praises, saying its storage area network directors draw a third of the power needed by Cisco gear. Numbers don't lie it states and compares its own power usage figures with ones from Cisco-published information to show that Cisco customers pollute the planet nearly three times as much as Brocade customers.

IT directors are coming under pressure to go green. Channel Five's CIO, Ken Davis, said he had consolidated 25 physical Windows servers onto three VMware servers because it made green sense as well asmaking his IT resources more flexible, reliable and agile. He has also consolidated much direct-attach storage onto four EqualLogic virtualised PS arrays for the same reasons. Davis said: "IT is on Channel Five's green group because it is a big consumer of energy."

Brocade, hoping to ride on the green bandwagon, states on its website:
- "Cisco directors are much less power-efficient than Brocade directors. According to Cisco's own documentation, the MDS 9513 draws more power per linecard and three times as much power (over 3000 watts) than the Brocade 48000. It is much less efficient, drawing up to 16 watts per port. In fact, with the energy it takes to run an MDS 9513, you can run a Brocade 48000 and power a large American home."
- "(Cisco's) MDS 9513 draws so much power and generates so much heat that many OEMs will not allow more than one in a standard rack, or require they be installed in specialized racks that take up more than one floor tile. While the side-to-side cooling is driven by fifteen fans, they are contained in a single field-replaceable unit (FRU) meaning all fans must be replaced when a single fan fails."
- "The MDS 9513 has a much higher carbon footprint than the Brocade 48000 or Mi10000. Yearly CO2 emissions can be as high as 12,280 kg, 8 metric tonnes higher than the Brocade 48000."

Brocade quotes an ESG validation report to show that changing many individual switches for a single Brocade Director results in power savings.

Well, that's it then; Cisco's green colour is thoroughly blackened. Brocade customers pour out 4.28 metric tonnes whereas Cisco's produce 12.28 metric tonnes, almost three times as much. Woe is Cisco, for it is undone. Consolidate multiple SAN switches onto a Brocade director and save the planet.

Cisco fought back against the claims. however. According to a company spokesman, "Brocade is misleading customers in the way power and cooling should be considered. It is also misrepresenting the power consumption of the MDS 9513 and is not taking into account any of many features typically
enabled in a SAN environment. SAN power consumption should be evaluated
holistically and it can be further reduced by High Density Directors with advanced power reducing capabilities; server, fabric, and storage virtualisation; or Integrated SAN Services. (The) MDS 9513 with its advanced capabilities enables more reductions ... when compared to many products, such as Brocade 48K. It is also
important to look at the power consumption over the product life-cycle rather than focusing on part of its life.

He added that the Cisco's MDS 9513 had been independently evaluated by ESG Lab as more power efficient when compared to the competition.

Er, perhaps not. A data centre is composed of servers, storage, and networking gear. The ESG report states: "the biggest consumers of power in the data center today are cooling equipment, high-end storage and servers."

The actual SAN networking proportion of a datacentre's networking gear is probably less than half. Economising on SAN director power alone will not save much of the planet at all while the rest of the datacentre burns power unabated. The ESG report states: "it should be noted that the cost of power may be relatively low in relation to the total cost of acquiring and maintaining a populated director." It's hardly worth spending £500,000 to save £50/year on energy costs.

Let ESG have the final word: "While ESG believes that the test results presented in this report are valid, we recommend that IT and facilities managers work together with their suppliers to perform their own analysis based on their specific requirements. A number of factors can influence the results, including the services to be deployed in a storage network and the servers and storage required for a total solution."

See Cisco's rebuttal of Brocade's green superiority.
See ESG statement on testing for both Cisco and Brocade independently.