Cisco Goes Green With New Data Center

Cisco opens new Texas data center to power its own operations.

Cisco isn't just a networking hardware vendor, they're also a consumer of data center technologies that power their own operations.

Today Cisco took the wraps off a new 5 megawatt, 30,000 square foot data center in Allen, Texas serving as a hub for Cisco's own internal private cloud as well as WebEx services. The new Allen data center is paired with a facility in Richardson, Texas to create a Metro Virtual Data Center (MVDC) for high-availability.

"Historically Cisco's business hasn't needed as much resilience as a financial services company but that has changed now," John Manville, vice president of IT in charge of Cisco'’s data center and cloud strategy, told "We also had to change the way that IT provides services inside of the data center, basically transform IT."

Manville added that the new direction for IT is to be an internal service provider to the business. As such, the data center is not just about providing servers, but rather it's about providing compute services.

"The new facility is built to be a multi-tenant data center," Manville said. "Cisco has various different internal businesses like WebEx or Linksys and this data center is also meant to handle the more traditional IT capabilities like ERP."

The Allen data center will -- not surprisingly -- be using Cisco's own networking equipment, including what Manville referred to as a 'large number' of Nexus 7000 and Catalyst 6500 switches. The application servers will all be running on Cisco's UCS platform. Manville noted that there will also be storage components from Cisco partners EMC and NetApp used in the Allen facility.

From a data center management perspective, Cisco is using multiple tools and is the process of building out more.

"One thing we are working on now, is we will be incorporating new acquisitions into our cloud management environment," Manville said. "Within 9 to 12 months we'll be able to say that we're running on a Cisco stack for our compute cloud environment."

Cisco is also leveraging VMware virtualization to enable service and server mobility across the data center as part of the IT transformation effort. From a power perspective, Cisco is taking advantage of energy saving features in its own hardware platforms as well as improving overall utilization, thanks to virtualization. Backup power to the facility is being provided with rotary flywheels, instead of batteries, and the facility has an innovative airflow system to keep temperatures in check.

While the new facility is a major effort for Cisco, it's not clear exactly how much Cisco is investing in the Allen data center.

"It was a reasonably large amount of money as far as data centers go," Manville said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: networking, data center, Cisco, green IT, UCS

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