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Personal Computer (PC) Power Management solutions have proved their mettle in providing unrivalled and hard-to-overlook energy and cost benefits internationally, but South African companies are still struggling to come to terms with the simple concept of powering down PC’s in a safe and automated fashion. 

Tim James, CEO of green IT consultancy sustainableIT says the proliferation of sustainable IT practices are becoming more apparent and getting more focus on the CIO’s agenda, however tangible action needs to happen in this untapped area for energy efficiency in the enterprise.

He says IT administrators in many organisations continue to insist that PC’s should remain on 24 hours a day to allow for out of hours management such as patching updates and virus scans.

“The reality is that this is an inefficient way of delivering the IT service, both in terms of cost and energy Power management tooling exists which allows companies to automate power downs and power ups of infrastructure, ensuring cost savings as well as facilitating IT department’s requirements.” 

The findings of a recent PC Energy Report commissioned by 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy, indicated that despite spiralling energy costs globally and the environment playing an increasing role in the corporate agenda, much further action is required by both individuals and employers.

Key statistics show that the environment is the main reason why 27% of UK workers power down their computers at the end of the workday compared to only 10% who cited this reason in the US.

If the 17 million workers in the UK who regularly use a computer turned it off at night, it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approx 1.3 million tons, the equivalent of removing 245 000 cars from the road.

James that although the research was conducted in Germany, the UK and US, the findings have as much relevance, if not more so, within the South African context. “We are still in the midst of an energy crisis and we interact with organisations on a daily basis that are leaving PCs in an idle state overnight. In some organizations we are seeing in excess of 95% of machines being left on overnight.  We are certainly less aware of our environmental impacts than UK-based employees and would have a similar profile to the report’s findings on US employees,” he says.

The report indicated that if all of the worlds 1 Billion PC’s were powered down overnight, the energy saving would be enough to power the Empire State Building in New York, inside and out for 30 years.  Put another way, the same saving in energy would power the entire South African grid for 2 days.

The simple step of powering down a PC can reduce a machine’s energy use by 80%, allowing companies to save more than R260 per desktop PC per annum.

“Powering down inactive PCs can provide a simple yet effective way for businesses to reduce overhead costs and environmental impact,” says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

“The economic crisis and volatile energy prices make it even more imperative for businesses to save money by saving energy.”

A computer uses energy even when it appears to be idle. Shutting down PCs when not in use will help businesses to significantly reduce costs while preventing tons of CO2 from being emitted into our atmosphere.

“Although much focus has been placed on data centre efficiency, according to Gartner, the majority of energy is consumed in PC’s and monitors from an ICT perspective.  Organisations simply must adopt tooling to power this infrastructure down”, James concludes.

Published in Business Day,  22 July 2010

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