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Annual Survey Examines IT Energy Plans, Attitudes, Results

Technology solutions provider CDW recently released its 2010 Energy Efficient IT Report, showing that IT is serious about controlling energy costs. The study found that three-quarters of U.S. organizations are working to reduce energy use in IT operations -- from deploying more power-efficient switches to using their network as an energy management platform.

The third in CDW’s annual surveys -- this year of 756 IT professionals who purchase IT equipment for public or private sector enterprises -- was conducted in July and focuses on energy efficiency’s position among competing IT priorities, what steps enterprises are taking to be more energy efficient, and what challenges get in their way.

It’s no surprise that energy-reduction efforts are being driven by cost savings. According to CDW, “the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that each basic office outfitted with an energy-efficient desktop computer, LCD monitor, and multi-function device such as a printer/copy machine can save $365 throughout the life of the equipment.” It’s also critical if data centers are to grow within the limits of available power sources. That’s probably why 79 percent of organizations either currently have or are developing a strategy for data center consolidation.

Two-thirds of respondents say they are taking at least one of the following actions:

  • Deploying core switches that are more power-efficient

  • Replacing less-efficient switches at the edge or in workgroups

  • Using the network as an energy-management platform

  • Adopting newer technologies, such as 10GB Ethernet and Infiniband

  • Implementing Fibre-channel Over Ethernet

  • Transitioning to top-of-rack models to enable access-layer switching

IT’s efforts are paying off. Of the enterprises actively managing their IT energy use, “56 percent have reduced their annual IT energy costs by 1 percent or more -- up from 39 percent in 2008.” One percent may seem small, but it avoids exceeding available power resources. Furthermore, CDW says data centers “account for 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption at a cost of $4.5 billion annually,” so even a one-percent cut is important. CDW cites a June projection from the EPA that electricity use will double within five years.

The top energy-saving measures used by those organizations with defined energy management programs and at least a one percent energy savings were:

  • Migrating monitors from CRTs to LCDs

  • Buying data center equipment (such as servers) that use processors that consume less power

  • Buying computers with more energy-efficient processors

  • Working with the desktop O/S’s power management tools

  • Redesigning data centers so they balance equipment and cooling needs

The survey also found that 39 percent of respondents say that energy use is a “very important consideration” when evaluating new equipment purchases -- up from 26 percent last year. Vendors take note: only 31 percent of IT managers would be willing to pay a premium for energy-efficient technology.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • Two-thirds believe that an understanding of energy-efficiency best practices for IT is “critical to their profession.”

  • Consolidation is a key technique for cutting consumption: 79 percent of organizations “have or are developing a strategy to consolidate the servers, storage devices, power management tools, and other equipment that comprise data centers,” driven by the need to reduce “data center hardware, software, and operations expenditures” (61 percent) and the goal of reducing energy consumption (60 percent).

  • More than a quarter (27 percent) say that they do not have a way to isolate and measure energy use, and 16 percent complained that if they cut IT energy costs, their budget would be cut by the same amount.

Organizations could do better if, according to a third of respondents (33 percent), their budget was large enough to afford new, more efficient systems “after meeting internal client demands.” Also problematic, according to 32 percent, was that “senior management gives higher priority to other investments.” Almost as many (31 percent) note that energy bills don’t get much attention; one respondent noted that because electricity is included in their lease, there’s no incentive to consume less.

The complete report can be downloaded at no charge at http://www.cdw.com/energyefficientIT. A short registration is required.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted on 11/12/2010 at 11:53 AM