ESnet Contributes Ideas for Energy-Efficient Networking at International Roundtable at UCSB

Experts from government networks, academia and industry look to more energy efficiency

February 15, 2013

Contact: Jon Bashor, 510-486-5849,

ICT Roundtable Hi Res

Since he joined ESnet in 2009, Inder Monga has been advocating approaches to assess and improve the energy efficiency of the national network. So when 27 of the world’s leading thinkers in energy-efficient networking gathered Feb. 7-8 in Santa Barbara, it wasn’t surprising that ESnet’s Chief Technologist Monga was among those invited to share their ideas.

 The day-and-a-half discussion on “ICT core networks: towards a scalable, energy-efficient future” was an invitation-only meeting, convened by UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency, and was facilitated by Rod Alferness, Dean of the College of Engineering at UCSB. Attendees included representatives from network operators, equipment vendors, academia, research labs and government networks. ESnet was also one of the sponsors supporting the workshop.

 A broad range of perspectives is important to address the problem because the dispersed nature of networking equipment and a lack of standardized metrics makes it difficult to measure and compare the efficiency of a network. As a step in this direction, ESnet is monitoring the power use of routers, switches and optical equipment across its new 100 gigabit-per-second infrastructure.

Typically, network innovations have focused on improving the data transfer performance rather than energy efficiency, said Monga, who is also the ESnet Area Lead of Network Engineering, Tools and Research. But with the rapid, exponential growth in network traffic, the industry is slowly turning its attention to reducing energy consumption and associated costs.

 While the workshop organizers will prepare a formal report with detailed recommendations, Monga said three general approaches aligned with work ESnet has been pursuing. They are:

  • Use software defined networking (SDN) at all network layers to dynamically optimize the network utilization and maximize efficiency. (Read about ESnet’s work with Infinera in this area.)
  • Expand power monitoring, analytics and control to all network components to enable maximize end-to-end network efficiency, recognizing traffic flow and history. Create metrics to compare efficiencies.
  • Explore making network systems that use energy proportional to traffic load. Today, many routers and switches use full power whether moving 100 kilobits or 100 gigabits.

“I consider myself fortunate to have been part of this group,” Monga said, adding that he knew a number of other participants from his prior industry experience at Nortel. “From ESnet's perspective, the meeting was a success since a lot of approaches that we are pursuing and advocating resonated with the group.”

Read the IEE meeting announcement.

About ESnet
ESnet provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at national laboratories, universities and other research institutions, enabling them to collaborate on some of the world's most important scientific challenges including energy, climate science, and the origins of the universe. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science and located within the Scientific Networking Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet provides scientists with access to unique DOE research facilities and computing resources.