Getting Green Out of the Data Center

Getting Green Out of the Data Center

Five tips on increasing the efficiency of front-office equipment

Concerned about energy costs, IT organizations have begun to make significant changes to how their data centers are powered and cooled. But many IT departments haven't yet looked at saving energy throughout the rest of their companies' IT infrastructures. That's shortsighted. Although data centers may use more power per square foot, as a percentage of total power consumption, office equipment is the big kahuna.

"Office equipment has become more highly featured and powerful than ever before, but there's an energy cost to that," says Katherine Kaplan, who manages the US Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star consumer electronics and IT initiatives.

"If you look at overall power consumption, you're seeing almost double for computers and monitors than for data centers," says Jon Weisblatt, senior product manager of the power and cooling initiative at Dell.

Verizon Wireless is one company that's saving plenty of green by going green. Earlier this year, the wireless carrier deployed 1E's NightWatchman power management software, which is designed to put desktop computers and monitors in offices, stores and call centers into power-saving mode after a period of inactivity, overriding any personal settings.

Another 1E product, SMSWakeUp, can 'wake up' those machines to deliver patches and updates after-hours and then shut them down again when the process is complete. "It saved us [money] just turning computers on and off on demand," says CIO Ajay Waghray. He also replaced 7,000 PCs in 10 Verizon call centers with power-sipping Sun Ray thin clients from Sun Microsystems and began a companywide migration to LCD monitors. The managed thin clients use 30 per cent less energy than the non-managed PCs, says Waghray. He estimates that the power management and thin client initiatives combined have decreased the cost of front-office power needs annually.

To Waghray, going green is good business. The projects were good for customer service -- off-hours patching and the more reliable thin clients improved uptime and reduced trouble-ticket volumes by 50 per cent. "To make things more efficient, simple and customer-focused, green becomes a very important factor," he says.

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