Cisco energy management can now span enterprise

A central management server can work across thousands of buildings and all energy-using systems

Cisco Systems on Tuesday announced the Cisco Network Building Mediator Manager 6300, a platform to manage all the systems in an enterprise that consume energy, across all the organization's facilities.

"Think of this as an energy router," said Marthin De Beer, speaking in a session at the Cisco Live user conference in Las Vegas, monitored via webcast. He compared the current world of lighting, appliances and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems to the early days of the Internet, when Cisco made its mark with routers that could speak a host of proprietary data networking protocols. Over time, Cisco has helped networking converge on IP (Internet Protocol).

The Mediator Manager is designed to link together multiple units of the Cisco Network Building Mediator, which monitors and manages the various energy-consuming systems in a particular facility. The Building Mediator was introduced last year after Cisco acquired building management vendor Richards-Zeta, which developed the technology on which it is based. On Tuesday, Cisco also announced the latest version of that platform, the Network Building Mediator 3.1.

De Beer introduced the Mediator Manager as part of a broad energy-management initiative for both enterprises and homes that Cisco unveiled on Tuesday. The company wants to help both companies and consumers monitor their energy use in detail, manage it for both cost savings and environmental goals, and use policies to automatically modify consumption under special circumstances.

With the Mediator Manager, a server-based platform, enterprises will be able to link multiple Mediator units to manage the energy use of all their facilities from a central enterprise portal. The combined system will be able to manage hundreds or thousands of buildings, De Beer said. From the management portal, administrators will be able to see graphical representations of the conditions of specific systems. Global maintenance schedules and alarm monitoring will be part of the platform. The Mediator will work in conjunction with Cisco's EnergyWise technology, which is already available on the company's switches and routers for managing IT energy use.

NetApp, the data storage vendor in Sunnyvale, California, has been using the Mediator products in its main facility and is saving about 30 percent per year on energy consumption, said Dave Shroyer, senior controls manager at NetApp, who spoke at the Cisco Live session. NetApp is able to receive alerts from its electric utility that automatically trigger energy-saving changes in its building systems whenever the utility is experiencing a heavy load. The utility reimburses NetApp for having this capability, Shroyer said.

The Cisco Network Building Mediator 3.1 carries a starting list price of US$4,995, and the Mediator Manager starts at $14,995. They are available now in the U.S. and Canada and will be rolled out in other markets over time.

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