Going Green, from Desktop to Data Center

The plunge in oil prices couching the ongoing economic downturn could foster
complacency about going green, but IT vendors are doing their best to prevent
that.

From the desktop to the data center, vendors are pushing technology and
services that reduce power consumption and boost technology performance. It may
be cheaper to drive than it was two months ago, but energy costs overall remain
a big drain on business budgets. For vendors and their channel partners, there
is significant profit potential in helping ease that burden on their clients’
budgets.

In some cases lifting the burden may involve simply changing bad habits, such
as leaving computers on after hours, while in other cases investments in new
power-stingy technology may be the ticket.

Hewlett-Packard, for instance, is prodding customers to make data centers more
efficient, while managed services platform vendor Kaseya focuses on the desktop
by encouraging users to power down idle computers.

Be it through the desktop or data center, going green can generate significant
cost savings. And as the mood of governments around the world turns to
regulating power management and reducing carbon emissions, more and more
customers are looking for efficiency, according to Mark Linesch, HP vice president
of marketing for infrastructure software, enterprise storage and servers.

In the data center, Linesch says, companies can cut millions of dollars in
energy-related expenses simply by harnessing and redirecting power that
otherwise goes to waste.

At the desktop, says Dan Shapero, Kaseya’s vice president of marketing, turning
off workstations after work hours translates to a potential electricity savings
of about $70 yearly per machine. The EPA estimates a workstation costs around
$150 a year to run.

For companies with hundreds or thousands of machines, the savings can easily
add up to thousands of dollars. And for a company with 10,000 workstations,
you’re looking at a savings of $1.26 million a year or more, according to
estimates by Enterprise Management Associates, which recently conducted a
survey on desktop habits for Kaseya.

Fewer than half of workstation users take advantage of power management
settings on their computers, the survey found. Since workstations account for
about 90 percent of the computing environment, the impact is substantial,
Shapero says.

“The machines are left on almost twice as long as they need to be,” he says.
“When you look at power costs, it’s almost double what it needs to be.”

Kaseya is tackling the waste by pitching the power management capabilities of
its RMM (remote monitoring and management) platform, which its MSP (managed
services provider) partners use to monitor, maintain and update the IT
environments of their clients.

MSPs using Kaseya’s platform have the ability to set policies to turn off
machines after work hours. For environments with machines running on Intel’s
vPro chips, MSPs also have the ability to turn them on remotely for routine
after-hours maintenance.

“What we’re hoping is by making it really easy to set power management
policies, it doesn’t turn into a chore for users,” Shapero says.

Kaseya this year has been pushing the green angle as it pitches its managed
services offerings to customers and recruits MSP partners. Shapero says the
message is resonating, and the vendor has picked up some business as a result
of it.

HP’s Linesch, too, believes businesses have become more attuned to the green
message. The motivators are cost savings, protecting the environment and the
anticipation of government regulations to control corporate carbon footprints.

To help them on all fronts, HP is pushing a comprehensive approach to
sustainable business practices energy efficiency. The vendor’s Green Business
Technology initiative aims to extend the life of data centers and make them
more efficient by capping and reallocating the power drawn by servers.

HP estimates that through the use of its Dynamic Power Capping and Thermal
Logic technologies, a data center can triple its servers without having to
increase power or air conditioning. Thermal Logic technology measures the use
of power and cooling to determine how to redistribute data center resources.

A 1-megawatt data center, says Linesch, can recover up to $16 million in
trapped power by implementing the technology. Electricity alone adds up to at
least 40 percent of the cost to run a data center.

In addition to the technology, HP has introduced consulting services to assess
the energy efficiency of data centers and use information gathered through
analysis for improvement and investment payback scenarios. The services also
include designing efficient data centers and retrofitting existing facilities
to comply with environmentally sound practices.

The return on investment from going green in the data center, Linesch says, is
relatively quick, with businesses seeing results in as little as nine to 12
months.

“I just think of it as really good business,” he says.

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