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How Aruba Networks Goes Green
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How Aruba Networks Goes Green

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October 01, 2009
By Brendan B. Read
Senior Contributing Editor


Yes, going green requires commitment and resources.
 
The payback: a more livable environment greatly exceeds the expenditures through improved individual and corporate health.
 
Aruba Networks, which provides wireless LANs and secure mobility solutions, is demonstrating just that. It has developed products that enable more efficient installations, is reducing energy, water, and waste at its facilities, enabling efficient teleworking via its products, and making manufacturing and maintenance greener.

 
Here are the details of the green initiatives undertaken by Aruba Networks (News - Alert), reports Michael Tennefoss, head of strategic marketing:
 
Reducing Resource Utilization
 
There are two methods by which Aruba reduces resource utilization in contact centers: network rightsizing and virtual branch networks.
 
These are:
 
1.      Network Rightsizing
 
The wired LAN has been the source of excessive and expensive contact center infrastructure. Until recently, it was common to install 2 to 4 wired ports for every user, backed up by large multi-port switches and miles of cabling. For an organization with 1,000 users that amounts to 4,000 ports, 4,000 cable drops, multiple expensive data switches and untold maintenance fees. While spending on wired connectivity is inherently inefficient, before the availability of adaptive 802.11n wireless LANs, contact centers have lacked credible alternatives.
 
Aruba’s adaptive 802.11n Wi-Fi technology addresses this situation. A single Aruba 802.11n access point can potentially support more than 100 simultaneous users, and yet costs 1/8th as much as a typical 48-port switch at list price. Fewer ports mean fewer switches and lower operating and annual maintenance fees. Costs associated with adds, moves, and changes evaporate. In fact, Aruba’s adaptive 802.11n technology may cost just 10 percent of a comparable wired build-out and can reduce recurring costs by more than $4,500 per switch, per year. Additionally, Aruba untethers contact center users so they can work more collaboratively and roam freely.
 
Aruba has created a “rightsizing calculator” that shows projected savings from rightsizing a network. The calculator models the cost savings associated with migrating users to wireless as their primary form of network access. Since 20 percent to 60 percent of users in most organizations rely on laptops, netbooks, smart PDAs, or some other form of Wi-Fi enabled mobile computer, the transition to wireless access will deliver instant savings. An online version of the calculator can be found at here (see lower right corner) and a case study from the California State University can be found in this PDF.
 
2.      Virtual Branch Networking
 
Virtual Branch Networking does for contact center teleworking what data center virtualization did for desktop applications. PC desktop virtualization allowed users to work remotely from PCs without compromising security or access to business-critical data. These benefits have not accrued to contact center teleworkers because the VoIP phones, PDAs, smart phones, and other tools-of-the-trade are not supported by desktop virtualization systems. 
 
Aruba’s VBN solution virtualizes complex services at data center controllers (running Aruba VBN software) and delivers them to low-cost (start at $99 U.S. list) RAP-2 and RAP-5 Remote Access Points that feature both Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi connectivity. Any IP devices used in the contact center can also be used remotely, say at the workers home, by using an available Ethernet port or the high security Wi-Fi feature.  If no wide-area DSL, T1/E1, cable modem connection is available remotely a 3G USB cellular modem can be plugged into the RAP-5 to enable completely wireless connectivity.
 
The VBN solution gives contact center personnel an office-like experience from home, a satellite office, or from wherever they need/choose to work. This lowers IT infrastructure costs at the contact center (few wired ports, switches, routers) and reduces the center’s real estate expenses (smaller call centers result in lower rent/lease expenses, lower operating expenses for HVAC, gas, electricity). It also enables a completely virtual contact center to make use of the lowest-cost workers regardless of where they live.
 
 Green Facilities and IT-Related Work Practices
 
Aruba has a corporate goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 20 percent through a combination of managing facility utilities, alternatives to business travel, and telecommuting. To accomplish this goal Aruba has assessed and reduced the environmental footprint of our facilities and IT infrastructure. Our innovative network rightsizing and telecommuting initiative has had the most profound impact in CO2 emissions.
 
The heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) system in our administration building is run only from 6AM to 8PM, Monday through Friday, with a 2 hour override for weekend and after-hours use. Our engineering building has 24 /7 cooling requirements, and we use an energy-efficient chiller for cooling, with a 2 hour override for weekend and after-hours use. All temperature-sensitive electronics equipment is being consolidated into a limited number of environmentally controlled labs to reduce the overall HVACR loading. Energy-saving environmental systems are used in all buildings and regular communication with employees is held to stress the importance of reducing the company's environmental footprint. Our buildings feature white or light gray roofs to maximize sunlight reflection, lowering the HVACR cooling loading.
 
Aruba's energy supplier derives more than half of the electricity it delivers from sources that emit no CO2, and an increasing amount comes from renewable sources of electricity. The power mix provided in 2007 consisted of non-emitting nuclear generation (23 percent), large hydroelectric facilities (13 percent) and renewable resources (12 percent) such as wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydro. The remaining portion came from natural gas (47 percent), coal (4 percent), and other fossil-based resources (1 percent).
 
To reduce energy demand T8 fluorescent bulbs are used throughout our facilities, and the company's guard service turns off lights in areas that are not in use during evening walk-throughs. Aruba has completed an initiative to remove and recycle CRTs in favor of low-power LCD monitors
 
Aruba has eliminated plastic drinking water bottles in favor of filtered water dispensers; uses recycled paper plates, boxes, and napkins; uses starch-based drinking glasses and utensils in its cafeteria; employs eco-friendly cleaning supplies; separates cardboard, glass, and aluminum waste for recycling; and recycles waste electronics. Also, automatic faucets and toilets are employed to reduce water consumption.
 
Aruba has deployed high-speed 802.11n WLANs for >90 percent of our 500+ employees. A single WLAN is configured for data and voice applications for use by all Aruba employees located at our corporate headquarters, remote, branch offices, and home offices. We average roughly 15 users per wireless access point. We also provide this solution to the road warriors in our sales force, all of whom connect to the network while traveling.
 
Field personnel and traveling employees are provided with Aruba's Remote Access Point (News - Alert) (RAP) technology. RAP is a low-cost solution that combines a wireless access point with VPN security and policy enforcement firewall. RAP does not require any software to be installed on the laptop, PDA, smart phone or other devices with which it is used. RAP is also plug-and play: following initial provisioning by the IT department, no further management or configuration of the RAP is needed. Instead, the employee simply plugs the RAP into a local network (or plugs in a 3G cellular modem) and RAP automatically establishes a secure tunnel with our primary or back-up data center, establishes the corporate SSID, and initiates a secure session for both data and voice (including corporate phone extension calling).
 
These steps enable Aruba to maintain a very thin wired infrastructure with relatively few data switches. This design reduces data room power consumption, increases operating time from our back-up battery uninterruptible power supply (UPS), and reduces cooling loading on our HVACR system. We minimized wasted cabling associated with office adds, moves, and changes, e.g., in a recent network change to accommodate new employees we required 10km (6 miles) less Category 6 copper cable than would otherwise have been needed. From a sustainability perspective, our wireless deployment allows us to minimize the use of PVC, polyethylene, polypropylene, synthetic rubber, MIC, nylon, and phenol formaldehyde cable insulation, cable management/trunking systems, and wiring device accessories.
 
Overall Aruba has reduced the number of closet switches and lowered power and cooling requirements up to 20 percent. Mobile employees can now connect their laptops to the corporate LAN without local IT assistance, regardless of the county in which they're operating. This eliminates the need for local IT network administrators to travel to branch offices.
 
Aruba's rightsized network has achieved the following savings:
 
·         Number of switch ports decommissioned after Rightsizing: 675
·         Number of switches decommissioned after Rightsizing: 14
·         Estimated annual energy reduction from rightsizing: 139,000kWh
·         Estimated annual telecommuter work-at-home days: 50,000
·         Estimated telecommuter CO2 emissions savings: 275,000 metric tons
 
Efficient Product Design and Maintenance
 
Aruba has undertaken several green initiatives in product design and maintenance. These include:
 
·         Aruba's hardware products do not employ disposable parts subject to wear
 
·         Software maintenance is accomplished via updates that are centrally managed from an Aruba controller and distributed to access points and controllers over the network. This design minimizes the need for dispatching service technicians, saving considerable time and lowering petrol/diesel consumption
 
·         The upgradable design enables customers to continue using all or part of an Aruba network for a longer period than competing designs that are not upgradable
 
Also Aruba’s AirWave (News - Alert) Wireless Management Suite manages products from multiple different wireless vendors, allowing a heterogeneous network to be formed from products that would otherwise have to be discarded.
 
Aruba actively works to decrease the quantity and minimize the environmental impact of its packaging. Our company uses eco-friendly packaging or has a collection and recovery system for its packaging. We employ recycled/recyclable cardboard in product packaging, we use print-on-demand for marketing collateral to eliminate unnecessary waste, and we print our annual report on recycled paper. We reduce transportation/delivery packaging by consolidating materials into fewer but larger shipment whenever possible. We encourage our customers to recycle used packaging, and we will take back used packaging on request by our customers.
 
Our products are designed for ease of recycling by allowing them to be disassembled externally. Wherever possible products are designed with only one type of polymer or recyclable plastic blend, and molded/glued-in metal is avoided.
 
Environmental Regulations Compliance
 
Aruba Networks is committed to compliance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations in our global markets. To ensure our compliance, a company-wide team monitors the development and implementation of environmental laws and regulations which affect our business. As part of this effort, Aruba has developed specific plans and taken steps to meet the requirements of the following implemented environmental laws and regulations:
 
·         EU Directive 2002/95/EC of January 27, 2003 on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS)
·         EU Directive 2002/96/EC of January 27, 2003 on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
 
The European Union Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Directive took effect on July 1, 2006. The RoHS Directive prohibits the sale into the EU of electronic equipment containing lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs). Manufacturers are responsible for eliminating these substances from their products.
 
Aruba products comply with the RoHS Directive. We continue to work closely with our suppliers to ensure they understand and comply with the RoHS requirements.
 
The RoHS Directive allowed a lead-in-solder exemption for network system products to extend the time necessary for the network system industry to validate the reliability of lead-free solder. Aruba initially relied on the lead-in-solder exemption for our products. However, at this time more than 80 percent of our current products have transitioned to lead-free solder as we are confident this technology will ensure the product reliability and quality our customers demand.
 
Aruba is currently in compliance with the EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, Directive 2002/96/EC (WEEE). Under the EU WEEE Directive, which took effect on August 13, 2005, manufacturers of covered electronic equipment who sell directly to EU customers (whether they be businesses or private consumers) are required to take back such products at the end of their useful life. The WEEE Directive also specifies guidelines for labeling and recycling of products.
 
To comply with the WEEE Directive, Aruba has worked with its EU resellers to implement the required collection, treatment, recovery and disposal processes for all covered Aruba products they sell into the 25 EU Member States.

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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