Cisco CEO: Sustainability Has Taken On A ‘New Level Of Prioritization’

‘I think what we’ve seen is the realization that it’s actually not just a responsible thing to do, it’s actually a commercially-savvy decision. We’re winning customers and projects because of the sustainability angle that we deliver on top of what everyone else does in networking or whatever,’ says Toby Alcock, CTO at Cisco partner Logicalis.

Cisco Systems is working alongside the channel to make environmental sustainability more measurable and to help end customers and partners alike reach their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals through tools, features and programs as the company works towards its own objective of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain.

The company has spent the last several years baking different insights into some of its tools and making those insights visible to partners and end customers, such as energy usage stats. Now, the company is working to pull that all together under an “umbrella strategy” around sustainability, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins told CRN last month.

“An umbrella platform will emerge where you can actually look at this stuff holistically across your entire infrastructure, and it’s all via APIs,” he said.

And customers and partners are viewing this work in a favorable light, Robbins said.

“Thirty-seven percent of emissions are coming from buildings, so if I can make my buildings more efficient, the data centers and the technology, there’s just so much low hanging fruit on this. And candidly, technology — infrastructure has been sitting out there for eight or nine years — is not your friend when it comes to sustainability. We’ve always tried to build lower power consumption, higher performance, but it’s taken on a new level of prioritization over the last three to five years.”ADVERTISEMENT

The tech giant last month at Partner Summit 2023 unveiled a Sustainability Partner Journey, which outlines how partners can operate a successful sustainability practice. The Cisco Partner Journey is a learning track that partners can find within the recently revamped Partner Experience Platform (PXP), that arm them with the tools, services, programs and portfolio offerings they need to accelerate sales, build a specific practice and enhance profitability from incubation to revenue production, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based company.

Cisco last month at Partner Summit 2023 also introduced the Sustainability Estimator, a feature that launched in late November that gives partners insights into the estimated energy savings, emissions reduction, cost reduction, and environmental impact customers can realize when modernizing their IT infrastructure.

Executives at Cisco partner Trace3 are happy to hear about Cisco’s continued focus on sustainability. The Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider giant in 2022 acquired Lasalle Solutions for its infrastructure lifecycle management platform (LAMP), which was recognized as an industry-leading asset management tool designed to help clients optimize IT management. Trace3 has continued to build out the LAMP tool and a piece of that offering is centered on sustainability, said Steve Wylie, senior vice president and general manager, East Majors, for Trace3.

“Clients are being pressured by regulators, by their executive teams. It’s almost like every RFP we get is about: ‘OK. How do we quantify the impact of this year related to ESG initiatives?’ Being able to build in some of the sustainability metrics to the different Cisco portfolio items helps,” Wylie said.

Trace3 has been working “on the side” with Cisco on its own sustainability efforts because ultimately, the firm would like to be able to ingest Cisco’s info into its LAMP tool. “I’m excited to see that Cisco is making [that data], like energy consumption, more readily available in their tools,” Wylie said.

London-based Logicalis, a longtime Cisco partner in November was named Sustainability Partner of the Year, one of Cisco’s Partner Summit Global Awards that recognize top-performing partners. The award shined a light on the firm’s sustainability performance and success in helping customers reduce the environmental impact of their IT infrastructure across the globe and is “validating” Logicalis’ progress it’s made in the last 24 months, said Logicalis CTO Toby Alcock.

“It’s something that we’re very passionate about,” Alcock said. “We started out with our own internal journey … and now we’re helping our customers on their journey to see what they’re doing with their carbon footprint and how they can reduce that. The whole topic of sustainability and carbon is maturing so quickly and becoming very relevant for all of our customers in all of our markets.”

Logicalis, in partnership with Cisco, is helping its customers reach their sustainability goals through Cisco-powered services such as responsible recycling and repurposing of end-of-use equipment, smart building solutions that maximize energy and resource efficiency and through the firm’s suite of managed services, including the Cisco-powered Intelligent Connectivity solution, which is underpinned by Logicalis’ Digital Fabric Platform.

Sustainability, said Alcock, is becoming increasingly important to Logicalis clients who may also have their own end customers that are looking to work with companies who share their values and commitments to sustainability.

“I think what we’ve seen is the realization that it’s actually not just a responsible thing to do, it’s actually a commercially-savvy decision,” he said. “We’re winning customers and projects because of the sustainability angle that we deliver on top of what everyone else does in networking or whatever. Study after study so that if you have the ESG policy, you’re a more profitable organization. It affects the bottom line.”

Cisco’s Robbins, for his part, said that he’s proud of the work his team has done so far in sustainability with partners.

“Over the next 6, 12, 18, 24 months, you’re going to see that [work] just come together more and more,” he added.

Internally, the company’s near-term target goal is to reduce absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 90 percent by fiscal 2025 and to reduce absolute Scope 3 emissions from purchased goods and services, upstream transportation and distribution, and use of sold products by 30 percent by fiscal 2030.

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