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Corporate PC Power management solutions are the norm in many of the largest organisations on the planet, including one or two in South Africa.  Wallmart, ABSA, Boeing, AT&T and Citbank would be to name but a few.  It is still staggering however, how many large organisations are still failing to recognise this opportunity for a quick win with significant costs savings and a tick in the box for ‘green initiatives’ for the IT department.

The case for PC Power Management is pretty straightforward, power off unused devices which are typically kept on in corporate networks and save a load of money.  Sounds simple at first glance but there are a lot of catches which is why we still have procrastination in many organisations.  The procrastination comes from valid concerns around manageability, security and general health of the environment.  However, what corporate IT architects fail to recognise is that with the correct tooling in place, all of these concerns can be overcome and in fact enterprise power management tools will enhance and improve the overall health of the estate and ultimately the service that is delivered.

There are two major stumbling blocks with power management technology taking root.  The first is that we can ‘do it ourselves’ with Group Policy or user education, the second is that ‘we will not power off’ due to patching requirement and network security.  Let us examine each of these

Group policy simply does not work very well and anybody who has managed an AD will attest to this.  A study conducted by 1E found that as many as 80% of PC’s using sleep timers (OS timers typically configured through GPO) failed to go to sleep at all (sleeplessness) or failed to remain in a ‘sleep state.’  This is largely caused through ‘sleepless processes’ which tell the OS that it is busy when it isn’t actually doing anything.  Intelligent tooling overcomes these issues and can ensure that devices are managed in a correct fashion; something that GPO and Win 7 is not able to achieve on their own.

Secondly, user education, unless it is drummed in daily will not have the desired effect and if it does, one still needs to overcome the management requirements once a machine is in a lower power state or even powered off.

So are you able to still manage your estate if it is turned off?  The short answer is yes, but again, only with the correct tools.  Years ago, when wake-on-lan (WOL) was developed it was expected that the days of leaving PC’s on would be a thing of the past.  The reality proved different.  WOL required magic packet broadcasts and network administrators were rightly loath to put ‘holes’ in their network security to allow this.  The intelligent power management tools out there overcome this with some neat tricks and ensure that you can wake machines up with no network changes, and put them back to sleep again.

An important point is to be aware of how a vendor wakes a machine.  It is pointless waking a machine through an OS clock timer as the minute it goes to ‘sleep it is unmanaged.  Any tooling you choose should have the ability to wake machines when you want them awake.  In an ideal scenario, you should also power machines down, rather than place them in sleep or hibernate.  This is largely for patching reasons and ensures that patching happens on a fresh install which always increases the patching success rate.

In conclusion, if you are a corporate, you should be looking at this technology within your architecture and the analysts attest to this as well.  According to Gartner, Inc., in its report as far back as March 2009, “When to Consider Commercial PC Power Management Tools,” PCs and peripherals consume more energy than any other information and communications technology group and by 2012, more than 50% of midsize and large organizations will centrally manage desktop power states, up from less than 10% today.

I suggest that in SA the 50% falls far short of the mark and businesses should be embracing these solutions as mainstream building blocks within their architectures.

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