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February 25, 2015

If You Haven't Yet Learned the Power of 'GWATT', You Will

It’s easy to see the issue. I sit here with my wireless devices attached to two power strips and several chargers in my car. Power is everything even with cheap gas, and from a power-consumption standpoint, if the Internet were a country it would be the sixth largest country in the world. Further breaking down the global issues of power consumption for the undeveloped countries, the issues of power relate to maintaining stable resources, while for the developed world powers it’s the largest recurring cost center.

Alcatel’s Bell Labs has modeled the power consumption of an end-to-end network. They call their model the Global “What If” Analyzer of neTwork energy consumpTion (G.W.A.T.T.), which is a great name for a power system (but a strained acronym).

The model is accessible at GWATT.net, and the model segments the network into the following areas:

  • Home and Enterprise
    • Home
    • Enterprise
  • Access and Aggregation
    • Wireless Access RAN
    • Mobile Backhaul
    • Fixed Wireless
    • Copper
    • Fiber
  • Metro
    • Wireless
    • IP
    • Fiber
  • Edge
  • Core
    • IP
    • Optical
  • Service Core and Data Center
    • Service Core
    • Data Center

While the Access & Aggregation section highlights the issues of migration from legacy networks to the latest opportunities with SDN and NFV, the Service Core and Data Center section represents the ability to look at applications such as Video and Data services This means that the network can be analyzed based on the expectations of usage growth or specific service offerings. Combined, these represent a great tool for understanding the impact of the services and the migration strategy.

Speaking with Thierry Klein of Alcatel Bell Labs, who also happens to be Technical Committee Chair of the GreenTouch Consortium, he pointed out that the model can be shaped to match general characteristics of countries and carriers. The end result of using the model generates a report that can be compared with other answers to the parameters.

What I found most intriguing about the model was the impact between the sections of the network.  Mr. Klein was gracious enough to run through some scenarios where the impact of the data centers section reduced the cost of metro implementation.

My expectation is that the GWATT will be a great tool for network planners to use in managing their migration strategies; product managers to better understand their cost centers; and financial managers to determine the impact of energy costs and the future skill-sets required to deliver the network of the future.


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