Thanks to the Energy Star program and related power-saving certification processes, desktops can do more work while using less power. However, most of these efficiency enhancements go unused because desktops are not set up to maximize their use of power. Enterprises that take full advantage of what's already in place can accelerate overall savings.
The first step toward a more efficient desktop environment is to gain a basic understanding of what hardware you have and what is due for replacement. This can be done with a comprehensive inventory of enterprise desktops and their configurations.
For some organizations, a detailed inventory may require purchasing an enterprise asset management (EAM) program from vendors such as Kace, ScriptLogic or Systemhound. Others might get by with a free inventory program, such as Belarc Advisor, WinAudit, Lansweeper and Newt.
If desktops need to be replaced because of age or lack of capabilities, companies can maximize value by selecting machines that have Energy Star ratings and highly efficient power supplies that exceed the basic 80 Plus level of certification. Other green features to look for include recycling programs, environmentally friendly construction processes and EPEAT gold ratings on hardware.
Once inventory has been completed, administrators can determine which desktops already boast power-saving features. In most cases, any desktop newer than four or five years old will be equipped with green technology.
Ensuring a green environment in the enterprise
So how do you make sure that desktops are being used efficiently? It all comes down to identifying wasteful practices. For most organizations, these practices can be narrowed down to a relatively short list. Desktops left running 24/7 are the primary culprit, as well as disabled hibernation and sleep modes.
Surprisingly, it can be rather difficult to overcome wasteful practices. Many end users can't be bothered to turn on power-saving features, much less shut down systems at the end of the day. Therefore, policies that rely on user interaction are difficult to enforce, but thanks to asset management software, there is another way.
There are several applications on the market specifically designed for desktop power management schemes. These products work by pushing settings down to desktops via green-based policies. One notable package is Verdiem's Surveyor, a utility that enforces power policies across a network. Once an administrator sets up the policies, features such as sleep, hibernate, low-power states or even automated shutdowns are then distributed to the desktops on the network. The policies are tamper-resistant and ensure power conservation.
Vendors such as Verdiem, Faronics, Absolute Software and Landesk make it simple to hop on the green bandwagon and can bring substantial savings to the enterprise. For instance, moving from an environment where desktops are left on around the clock to one where they are on only during working hours can reduce power usage by 66% or more. It all comes down to pairing green technology with management software to activate your potential for green savings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frank Ohlhorst is an IT journalist who has also served as a network administrator and applications programmer before forming his own computer consulting firm.