Putting the 3R’s Into Action With ‘Reduce’

by | Dec 14, 2009

jack-pouchetCorporate sustainability professionals focus on the triple bottom line also known as the three P’s – People, Planet, Profit. In the data center world, where we prefer action, the Three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – emote a much stronger call to action. Being goal- and metric-driven individuals, we can visualize the 3R’s in action and anticipate the results.

In coming months, I’ll offer my perspectives on how IT professionals can put the 3 R’s into action to protect the environment and reduce costs. Today we will start with ways to reduce energy consumption, taking a somewhat different business perspective: that of the enterprise network outside the traditional data center.

One study suggests that over two-thirds of enterprise compute power may be consumed outside the data center. There are many paths to reducing the power load in this area, including eliminating devices, desktop virtualization, and simply turning idle assets off when not in use with a power strip.

IT and facility managers generally agree that the office computer and network environment has a high degree of time dependence. That means we know when these devices will be used, how long, and how much power is required to support them. And like the lights in our teenagers’ rooms, we want them off when not in use. Turning idle IT assets off is a surefire way to reduce energy consumption.

At the building level, facilities managers have embraced automatic motion-detector light switches for years to reduce wasted energy consumption. Desktop and laptop computers have been more difficult to address.

Now IT professionals have gained access to software tools that can achieve similar results while enabling those network/security patches to run as needed. These tools go way beyond the simple user-defined OS-based power management settings to allow centralized control, such as activating sleep settings on computers and monitors.

In fact the documented energy savings for these new software tools are so significant, often producing a simple payback of less than one year, that the US EPA has created two portals for information and downloads of these tools including open-source and commercial offerings. (Disclaimer: I have friends at 1e, Lakeside Software, and Verdium and Emerson recently acquired Avocent.) They all work, so do a little homework, read the case studies, talk to your IT suppliers then pick and deploy one to start reducing your enterprise power demand.

The control of desktops, laptops and network-connected IT devices outside the data center is easily regulated through IT, HR, and corporate policies. If all else fails have facilities tie the power outlet to the automatic motion-detector light switch and shut everything down at night.

Me? I use a power strip!

Jack Pouchet is director of energy initiatives for Emerson Network Power.

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