Lights Out

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2008-10-22 Print this article Print

The single most effective energy-saving strategy for user devices is to turn them off when they are not in use.

According to the EMA study referenced earlier, desktop systems are left on when not in use over evenings and weekends 43 percent of the time. The wasted energy of this practice costs about $150 per system per year.

Conversely, laptops are much less likely to be left on unnecessarily, and when they are on they typically consume less energy than a desktop. The study showed that 36 percent of enterprise workers have more than one system at their desk, the vast majority being desktop/laptop combinations. It would seem that another easy fix for IT managers would be to simply eliminate desktop systems for workers who have laptops by using docking stations and a second monitor.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The familiar recycling triangle can help guide IT managers to greater cost savings and a greener profile. Not all corners of the triangle are equally important. By far, the most effective practice for greener IT is to reduce. Server virtualization shines here as the most important way to right-size capacity to business needs.

To preserve virtualization's hardware and power-conserving properties, though, IT managers must take the next step and manage VMs. Ruthlessly pursue unused VMs in your environment and mandate stringent VM life-cycle management requirements. There are few motivators more effective than a monthly chargeback bill. An effective green IT strategy, therefore, must include a means to accurately measure resource usage and to ensure that users pay for all the computing power they consume.

Many power companies across the country provide rebates for companies that implement power-saving technologies, including power throttling on servers and scheduled shutdown for end-user systems.

In addition, there are patching and configuration management tools that implement wake-on-LAN and remote shutdown to enable machine patching off hours while still turning machines off when they are up-to-date. Working together, these management tools can help IT managers save their business cash while reducing the load of computing on the environment.

Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

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