Gartner Estimates Energy Savings from PC Power Management

The next front in the struggle to make IT “greener” will unfold at your fingertips -- on the ubiquitous end-user desktop

The next front in the struggle to make IT greener will unfold at your fingertips -- on the ubiquitous end-user desktop. So says a new survey from market-watcher Gartner Inc., which finds that the use of PC power management technology can save organizations tens of thousands of dollars every year.

Gartner's numbers, based on an in-house model, aren't surprising. Cisco Systems Inc. signaled its own intentions on the PC power management tip last month, for example, when it announced EnergyWise, a total enterprise power-saving initiative that involves greening-up both hardware and the physical plant. One phase of Cisco's multi-phased EnergyWise program focuses on enhanced PC power management, chiefly by partnering with Verdiem and other established PC power consumption specialists.

Gartner estimates how much a large organization could save by practicing PC power management: in a shop of 2,500 unmanaged PCs, for example, the firm projects annual savings of $43,300 -- with even more ($6,500) by turning off and unplugging machines. (The latter measure can backfire on organizations, Gartner reports, because updates and maintenance will have to be carried out during the day, which could impact employee productivity.)

"Much attention on power consumption has focused on the data center, but PC power consumption in an organization can also be significant, especially given steadily rising electricity prices," said Federica Troni, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

"IT organizations should recognize that the greatest savings come from employing power management features. They should investigate the power management capabilities of their PC life cycle management tools and PC power management point solutions to implement these policies and to better support management activities."

Gartner's model makes a few common assumptions: e.g., there's a 1:1 ratio of PCs to employees, employees log eight-hour days (230 days a year) during which they're interacting with their PCs 70 percent of the time. Gartner also puts the cost of energy at 10 cents per kilowatt hour. That said, the market-watcher claims, the model can be adapted to suit virtually any sized shop.

"Although we concentrated on three specific scenarios, the model can be used to assess the PC-related power consumption in any organization," said Charles Smulders, managing vice president at Gartner, in a statement. "In addition, the results of the assessment can be adjusted to reflect only the power used and paid for by the organization, thus excluding the power consumed by a mobile PC that is being used off the organization's premises."

Gartner also differentiates between well-managed, unmanaged, and unplugged environments. In the former scenario, its model assumes that power management features are available (and activated) on all devices, and that (moreover) desktop systems aren't unplugged or turned off overnight, which enables IT to perform maintenance and other updates.

The analyst firm's $43,300 figure assumes that the cost of all power is paid for by an organization. When the power consumption of off-premises notebooks or mobile PCs is factored in, annual cost-savings dips to $27,500.

"Undoubtedly with proper policies in place, substantial power and cost savings can be achieved without an impact on user productivity," Troni concluded. "Unplugging machines brings further reductions in power and additional cost savings, compared with a well-managed environment; however, we believe that implementing such policies is impractical, and is likely to obstruct productivity because updates can't easily be performed after hours."