Paul Marcoux Will Drive Cisco's Environmental Development Efforts
New VP of Engineering, CDO Operations, to help establish balance between technology innovation and environmental strategy
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Since joining Cisco in November 2007, Paul Marcoux, vice president of Green Engineering, Cisco Development Organization (CDO) Operations, says he feels "like a kid in a candy shop."
"I'm so thrilled to be at Cisco," he enthuses. "Over the years, I've been able to design and build some of the world's largest data centers. And now, for the first time, I get to blend my two passions - technology and green awareness - into a single role.
"What really excites me about Cisco, and one of the principal reasons I decided to become part of the team, is that essentially all energy - whether we're talking about using it as a function, or monitoring and managing - goes through the network," continues Marcoux. "Because of this, Cisco has a tremendous opportunity to be at the forefront of influencing green initiatives - both by setting the trend and by being part of the evolution of that trend."
The Network's Role
The network has a central role to play in monitoring, managing and reducing energy use, according to Marcoux.
"And if you can't monitor and manage, you can't reduce," he says.
Take kitchen appliances. Today, we can manually set our dishwashers to run at 2 a.m. to save energy and cut our energy bills. But soon, these machines will talk to the network, which can help determine the most appropriate time for them to run.
"If your freezer needs to go through a defrost cycle, the network will be able to select a time when not only is the energy cheaper but the utilities are looking to balance the energy load," Marcoux explains.
This concept can be applied to networks throughout the home, in the enterprise and even within entire cities, potentially transforming how we as a society address climate change.
New Green Leadership
Marcoux has an extensive background both in technology and environmental issues. He is one of the founders of The Green Grid, a nonprofit consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems. He joins Cisco from American Power Conversion Corporation (APC), where he held an executive position reporting to the CTO and founder.
Over his 30-year career, Marcoux has also held executive positions in the financial, healthcare and technology industries. He has provided consulting, design, engineering and management services for more than 3 million square feet of domestic and international data centers, ranging from small local-area network (LAN) rooms to state-of-the-art data centers requiring dual redundancy.
"Paul has proven himself to be an environmental visionary, and he has a tremendous understanding of the potential of a green network," says Tony Bates, senior vice president and general manager, Service Provider Group (SPG). "As a result, I expect him to be a strong leader in driving green engineering throughout CDO."
Establishing a Green Vocabulary
One of the first steps Marcoux plans is to establish a common green vocabulary.
"With no common language, trial and error becomes the only communication tool," he explains. "Engineering, for example, often sees green as a technical problem and has a tendency to use its technical language to develop solutions.
"The reality, however, is that protecting our environment is a social problem first and foremost," he continues. "As a result, we need a common social language to share across Cisco as well as beyond our doors."
To help with this transition to a common green vocabulary, Marcoux is developing an engineering roadmap that has four phases, and includes an evaluation tool to rate internal engineering initiatives along a green continuum. This methodology will enable engineers to evaluate products, services and organizations consistently.
The Social Context
Cisco is already working with global government, business and academic leaders on the social aspects of today's environmental challenges - investigating how networking technology can promote innovative practices for reducing carbon emissions while fostering economic growth, for example.
"We're looking at the social side through Connected Urban Development (one of two initiatives to which Cisco committed as part of its participation in the Clinton Global Initiative) and other programs," Marcoux points out. "These are far-reaching programs that focus on how entire societies interact with themselves, others and their technological world."
"If we try to solve environmental challenges purely on a technological basis, I am fairly confident that we'll fail," he adds. "But if we recognize it as a social issue first, we can have an understanding that, although we'll be supported by technology, it has to work in a social context."
Marcoux is confidently moving forward with this approach - working to define and then implement technology-based green standards that can serve Cisco as well as the wider industry and society at large.
"And Paul is just the person to accelerate our efforts internally and externally, says Bates."