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Power management solutions in the desktop computing environment are yet to be fully embraced by South African corporates; largely due to a lack of knowledge around toolset requirements and failed implementations using windows power schemes and Active Directory alone.

For many companies that are supposedly “going green”, changing the light bulbs is where it starts and ends and this lack of continuous commitment leads to significant energy waste and unnecessary costs.

Powering off PC’s overnight remains the number one priority for ICT departments when it comes to sustainable IT, the challenge is to make sure that the solution is enterprise ready and meets the needs of the business concerned.

Tim James, CEO of local consultancy sustainableIT, highlights that the failures of power management strategies are a direct result of the lack of understanding around the complexities and requirements of an enterprise power management solution.  “Most tools, including Active Directory, rely on operating system inactivity to place workstations into a lower power state.  The reality is that power management is not a one size fits all and a successful power management strategy relies on a combination of standby, shutdown and hibernate policies”, James states.

“We see many customers that have tried standby and hibernate strategies, using either group policy or other toolsets.  The result in that certain applications do not transition effectively into standby which often leads to issues elsewhere in the infrastructure such as application failures and database corruptions.  When IT departments realise these issues, the standby policies are immediately removed and are never revisited”, James elaborates.

Building blocks to success

A successful solution is one that requires little administrative overhead and enhances the delivery of the IT service, whilst delivering measurable savings at the same time.  James points to 5 key ingredients for a successful enterprise solution; namely accurate reporting, flexibility in shutdown approach, no end user impact, the ability to resolve PC Insomnia as well as secure wake-on-lan.

PC Insomnia

A fundamental problem with standby based solutions is that as much as 25% of the estate may not transition to a lower power state due to a phenomenon known as PC insomnia.  What happens under the covers is that certain processes keep the operating system ‘awake’ despite the fact that the machine is idle, resulting in no sleep or hibernate and wasted energy; classic insomnia.  Any PC power management solution must have the ability to address and resolve this issue or an organisation is just leaving money on the table.


James believes the failures of wake on lan in a secure network is often mistakenly the main reason why power management is not adopted.  Without the ability to wake machines for out of hour’s maintenance, IT departments will simply not power off.  “An enterprise power management solution should provide wake on lan out of the box with no network changes required, if it doesn’t it is not worth the investment” James concludes.

As the pain of energy increases becomes more apparent, coupled with a growing requirement to reduce CO2 emissions, it remains to be seen whether IT departments start to manage their device up time in the appropriate manner.

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