Putting the IT power hog on a diet

Concern over power consumption is driving enterprises to alter their computing practices, according to a Canadian analyst.

Anything that affects the bottom line is a matter of concern and that’s certainly true of power consumption by IT resources, said George Bulat, director of data driven products at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto. Companies, he said, are devising various strategies to deal with the issue.

For instance, Bulat said, an increasing number of companies are turning to server-based computing and virtualization to save energy. He said by shifting power consumption from the office to the machine room, these computing models lower the cost of managing IT services and cut overall energy bills.

The IDC analyst also sees a noticeable shift towards blade-type servers, which further reduces power consumption. “Blade servers and virtualization reduce the number of physical machines that consume energy.”

Server and thin-client computing has become an increasingly popular strategy to cut down power consumption, and with reason. Personal computers account for two-thirds of the energy consumption in a typical office, while they waste as much as 20 per cent of the power they consume, according to Butler Group Ltd., a U.K.-based analyst house.

The Carbon Trust, a non-profit organization funded by the British government, has determined that office equipment accounts for roughly 15 per cent of energy use. This figure is expected to rise to 30 per cent by the year 2020 if businesses do not act.

David Rogers, a technology and project management specialist with BC Hydro, noted that simple power-conservation techniques can save a company with 10,000 computers at least $250,000 each year in electricity costs. He notes that the province of British Columbia can save as much as $30 million in electricity costs each year if businesses and home users turn off their computers when not in use.

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