Energy Bill Coming Due in Congress

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Reining in IT Energy Consumption

Many IT organizations don't account for energy costs when formulating their IT budgets and have little visibility into the true costs.

Now that a comprehensive energy bill has been formally introduced in Congress, it's only a matter of time before some form of increased regulation and scrutiny comes the way of IT.

The question is what will be the best approach to managing power consumption in the enterprise. On the one hand, just about every management tool is adding a power-management capability. On the other extreme, there are companies such as 1E that argue that IT organizations need a more comprehensive approach to power management.

1E CEO Sumir Karayi says that as the overall IT environment becomes more dynamic, there's will be too much activity to track through a patchwork of power-management tools. Right now, 1E offers separate NightWatchman power-management tools for PCs and servers, but Karayi expects these offerings to become more tightly integrated.

Karayi says that if you accept the argument that servers are doing some useful about 15 percent of the time, then we're collectively wasting about $4 billion a year to power them, plus another $21 billion on power- and cooling-related equipment. Karayi says we're also probably wasting about $2.8 billion to power PCs that might be in use only half the time.

And the 1E CEO notes that things might get worse with the advent of virtualization. Granted, servers are more efficient because utilization rates are higher, but without tools to determine whether the virtual machine is doing something useful, you might think you're saving money when the machine is doing nothing more than idling.

As we get better at measuring actual energy use, the challenge is as much political as it is technical to get companies to focus on IT energy consumption. The good news is that the next generation of servers and PCs are a lot more energy-efficient. But as Karayi notes, it will take four years or more to cycle through all the systems in place today, most of which probably cost more to power than they are actually worth.

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