Most of us are accustomed to using PoE, or Power over Ethernet, for delivering electrons to wireless access points, IP telephones and other small network devices. But in a demonstration at Cisco Live 2015 we saw it do a little more.
Cisco is using PoE to deliver electrons to LED lighting systems and to deliver control to building managers.
On one hand, we like the idea of simplifying equipment deployments. When fitting out a new building, life gets easier if you only need to install one type of cable to look after more functions. It will also allow more control as moving physical infrastructure is easier. For example, having a bunch of Ethernet cables in the ceiling makes it easy to move WAPs and lights around when office get reorganised.
It also enables new ways to control lighting. We saw basic brightness and timing controls but can imagine a control system that works with other control systems.
However, network administrators are going to see yet another device added to an increasingly complex environment. Back when I first dragged network cables around the office, all I had to worry about was connecting computers. Now, there are more devices, in more locations than ever before. And lighting is about to become a part of that.
Cisco says the lighting control system will work with any Cisco PoE switch. They suggest deploying this solution would be part of a planned lighting replacement or deployment as it wouldn't be cost effective to replace an operating lighting system.
Disclosure: Anthony Caruana travelled to San Diego as a guest of Cisco.