Ten Ways to Reduce the Energy Consumption of IT

23/10/2013 15:19 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

Passionate about identifying waste and eliminating it, Sumir Karayi, chief executive of 1E shares his thoughts on strategies to reduce the energy consumption of IT

With soaring energy costs, companies are looking at ways of actively managing energy consumption within the enterprise and many have turned to the IT department to see what savings can be made. Computers are power hungry and although anyone can switch off a computer, the complex part is ensuring a user can use it whenever they need to, that IT can patch it as needed, that it remains healthy and that the energy savings are reported accurately.

In general users don't take personal responsibility to power down computers so it's up to the IT department to deploy the right solution without negatively impacting user productivity. For example, productivity can be affected if users have to wait to boot up their workstations at the beginning of the day or if update and new software have to be installed during workings hours.

Here's how you can significantly lower energy costs without impacting user productivity:

1. Manage the IT environment collectively

The most significant energy savings are made when the whole IT environment - including different locations, departments and hardware - is considered. Tools which map PC utilization and report on efficiency across the whole IT infrastructure are vital to eliminate equipment currently sitting idle or consuming energy unnecessarily, either in data centers or offices.

2. Switch off PCs that are not being used

PCs are the single biggest user of power in IT, so it's no surprise that organizations are adopting PC power management tools. However, a blanket approach to switching off devices is completely impractical. With user-centric software that allows employees to override policies if they have urgent work to do, or allows IT administrators to apply patches out of hours, convenience and a reduction in carbon consumption is offered in equal measure.

3. Measure software usage on servers

Data centers are becoming more efficient but servers still account for 25 percent of IT energy consumption and, in our experience, 15 percent of servers are not doing anything useful. Many companies have looked to virtualization to support growth, however server sprawl brings license sprawl. With the ability to monitor the efficiency of servers through software usage we can ascertain the usefulness of a server and evaluate whether it should continue to be connected to the network and consuming power.

4. Consider PC peripherals

Companies need to evaluate the number of printers, scanners, routers and other peripherals that are actually needed, as well as ensure that any new equipment replaces - rather than adds to - older technology.

5. Deploy updates and patches in an energy-conscious way

Many companies leave PCs switched on overnight in order to install updates and patches, but by better integrating systems management tools with power management software, businesses can ensure the power status automatically reflects the activity required of the machine.

6. Create a sustainable infrastructure

Using 'what if' scenarios ensures efficient hardware usage now and in the future and lengthens the life-span of the existing IT infrastructure, creating a more sustainable, less carbon-intensive environment.

7. Measure accurately

Companies need to utilize cloud-based databases that provide the most up-to-date information on the energy consumption of their hardware. This can then be used to deliver reports which not only map consumption but also savings.

8. Reduce the hardware footprint by allocating resources more effectively

The ability to monitor and report hardware utilization of all PCs across your estate enables key stakeholders to make informed business decisions. Companies can track hardware to ensure resources are allocated where they are needed and reduce waste and the energy footprint from IT.

9. Create a demand for green products

For the energy consuming hardware that can't be eliminated, businesses should look for green alternatives and encourage existing manufacturers to improve green credentials.

10. Consult the experts

Companies should utilize experts and partners who have the experience on similar projects who can provide strategic, targeted and technical end-to-end guidance to help organizations maximize success and minimize risk.

Leveraging the right IT energy management solution will reap many benefits. In addition to keeping your utility bills in check, there'll be zero impact on user productivity with all patches, scanning and software installations performed during non-business hours and you'll also improve your green credentials with a lower carbon footprint.