Power-saving innovations could spread from desktop to data centres

In many companies, users leave their PCs on overnight, consuming data centre electricity unnecessarily. But new products aim to flick the switch on this problem.

With CIOs and data centre managers under constant pressure to prove an immediate return on investment for IT purchases, desktop management companies have launched simple products to provide an easy win.

London based Modus Interactive launched its energy-saving Powerwise Software, which it claims can halve energy consumption on every desktop or laptop machine by automatically choosing the lowest possible power state.

"In many big companies, people leave their PCs on all day and all night," said Modus Interactive's sales and marketing manager Mark Taylor. "Sometimes they're told to by the IT department, as it's the only way they can manage the machines. Our software allows them to switch machines off and on when they want."

Powerwise could pay for itself within a year, argued Taylor, just by reducing the electricity bill. But he hinted that power-optimising products for servers are in production. "That's what the data centre managers will be interested in," he said. No details on Modus Interactive's products are available yet.

Reducing hardware costs 
The majority of PC and even server replacements are unnecessary, says new research from Iolo Technologies LLc. Small businesses' desktop purchases are simply replacements of existing units – often needlessly disposed of.

"According to our research, around 98% of all computer slowdowns are caused by faulty settings, clutter and fragmentation resulting from normal, everyday use," said J.J. Schoch, the VP of marketing at Iolo.

The company claims its System Mechanic product can tune up an average computer that's seen several years of service and make it handle all the latest applications and be as good as new. It has also been designed to enable a new Windows 7 machine from accumulating clutter. "This saves money on needless hardware purchases and energy costs, and is the work of a few minutes," said Schoch.

Reducing Windows boot-up time 
Meanwhile, another vendor claimed that Windows is now so complicated that it's making companies run up needlessly high electricity bills. Studies by efficiency experts at Diskeeper revealed that many users are so impatient with waiting for Windows machines to boot that they never switch their computers off. The end result is wasted money on electricity bills, and an increasing IT footprint.

Windows 7 will augment the problem, according to Modesto Rodriguez, executive vice president of business strategy at Diskeeper.

A third of business computers in the U.K. are left switched on overnight, costing British businesses more than £300 million a year in extra electricity bills, according to Diskeeper's estimation. In the U.S., the situation is even worse, it argues. Its own figures suggest that half of all corporate computers are left on overnight. This costs U.S. firms some $2.8 billion a year.

Diskeeper claims it has tackled the problem with software that can speed the Windows boot-up process by up to 30%.

Boot-Time Breakthrough, which will be available in September, will reduce boot-up time by between 15% and 26% on Windows 7 machines and by 30% on Windows XP, the vendor claimed.

"Our research showed that most employees leave their computers on overnight," said Diskeeper's director of product management Michael Materie. "They didn't want to wait 10 minutes in the morning for their PC to boot up."

Tests on Windows XP software using hardware from a variety of manufacturers showed significant boot-time improvements on every system tested, claimed Diskeeper. There were even cases where the boot process completed 10 seconds faster. Tests on the Windows 7 Release Candidate demonstrated similar results.

Research company Gartner estimates the IT and telecom industry generates 2% of world carbon emissions and PCs and monitors account for 39% of that total.

Nick Booth is a contributor to VirtualDataCentre.co.uk. 

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