Sumir Karayi, CEO, 1E, explains how to maximize savings from a PC Power Management deployment by tackling sleepless PCs.

Balfour Beatty WorkPlace has recently revealed that it has deployed a PC Power Management (PCPM) solution to support the group’s corporate 2020 sustainability vision.

The division wanted to reduce energy waste and carbon emissions from PCs that were not being used, and by deploying NightWatchman Enterprise from 1E, Balfour Beatty WorkPlace can now track the 41% of PCs which are left on outside of normal working hours and automatically power them down. This action resulted in savings of approximately £20,000 in energy costs in the first year alone and the prevention of 150 tonnes of C02 from entering the atmosphere – that’s the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 27 cars.

So why opt for a dedicated PCPM solution when many operating systems have some form of power management built-in? Even with a basic power saving functionality that sends PCs to sleep when inactive, an organisation with 5,000 PCs could be wasting more than £25,000 a year in energy costs. The reason for this wasted energy use? Many PCs have insomnia – in other words, they do not automatically go into sleep mode.

One example of sleeplessness is if CPU activity is above a given threshold. This can happen simply if a busy web page keeps auto-refreshing, which tricks the internal timer into thinking that the PC is still in use. Many IT maintenance tasks such as back-up, virus scan or software installations cause CPU spikes which in turn cause sleeplessness.

Additionally, applications or drivers can also request the system to stay awake. They do this by setting an operation system flag called ‘System Required’. Other applications may just be written incorrectly. For instance, the system can still think that audio is playing even when all media apps have closed. These events mean PCs have processes running which keep them awake and consuming energy all of the time, in a constant sleepless state.

With basic built-in Windows power schemes, PCs can appear to be in use, even when they are not. To squeeze the biggest saving from a PCPM deployment, it’s crucial to choose a solution that features robust PC insomnia capabilities which can identify these rogue processes and automatically power down the PC anyway.

By 2015, Pike Research predicts that the many software solutions aimed at cutting wasted power from computers and servers will save companies $18.6bn per year, and it’s not hard to see why. With rising energy bills and squeezed budgets, pressure is increasing for IT to become more efficient. Although a truly comprehensive strategy will encompass every part of an organisation’s IT infrastructure, PCPM is a good place to start. It is a relatively inexpensive, easy to deploy method for organisations to reduce energy consumption, and therefore operating costs and environmental footprint.

According to a recent report from independent analyst firm Ovum, ‘PCPM solutions can be a cost effective way for organisations to reduce energy consumption, and therefore operating costs […] They deliver a fast return on investment [and] can save organisations about $36 per computer per year just in computer power consumption. […] This typically equates to a 40% reduction in PC power costs or 380kWh per PC per year or 586lbs of CO2 per user per year.’

PCPM may just be one part of the IT efficiency jigsaw, but a successful implementation is a great first step towards identifying unused IT, removing it and optimizing everything else.