MORE often than not, when companies are asked how they are
reducing their electricity bills or even carbon emissions they’ll mention
their lighting retrofits, their recycling initiatives, their partnerships with
other organisations or their logistics department.
The IT department rarely,
if ever, features - despite being a significant contributor to energy costs.
South Africa aims to introduce carbon taxation in the
2013/2014 tax year, and we’re already seeing required integrated reporting for
JSE-listed companies – all on the back of a 78% increase in energy prices in
the past three years.
It is crucial that all business areas are on board when
it comes to reducing electricity usage.
How PCs are wasting energy
sustainableIT recently conducted an analysis of one of the top four banks
in the country and found that over 90% of their PCs were being left on
In this case, the IT department had been conducting security
patching after hours and instructed staff to leave their PCs on for that
It’s something we rarely think twice about when we’re leaving
the office, but the thousands of PCs that were being left on consumed energy with
an associated 7 500 tonnes of CO² emissions.
They also incurred a hefty
R4m electricity bill per annum as a result – without any employees at their
The sad part is that the waste is unnecessary.
Simple tooling can shut PCs down and “wake them” remotely
without making any changes to network security whatsoever, but a lack of
education and understanding about the options available in the PC power
management tech space has kept companies from running as efficiently as they
To be specific, IT administrators still mistakenly believe that wake on
lan is not “enabled” on their network and that they have no ability to wake
devices for patching purposes. (Some IT administrators still believe that it’s
not “good” for PCs to be continually be switched on and off – which may have
been true in 1980, but it’s hardly relevant in 2012.)
Servers are yet another source of IT electricity waste.
Gartner has revealed that 12-14% of the world’s servers actually have no use
whatsoever – but most companies are hesitant to take action to remove or
optimise them, because they are terrified of losing data.
Yet by forcing the
server software into the lowest energy-using state while running non-critical
functions (such as antivirus checks overnight), you can cut your server energy
use by as much as 12% with no impact on performance.
The reality is that there are tools available that can
overcome tech limitations, without any changes to network security or regular
operations whatsoever. Unfortunately, we aren’t using them.
Make eliminating IT waste a priority
There really hasn’t been a compelling reason for chief information officers (CIOs) to
reduce their electricity usage or carbon emissions. CEOs aren’t putting
pressure on IT executives to reduce energy and there is no legislation
compelling them to do so.
However, the imminent carbon tax and Eskom price
hikes may soon place this issue squarely on the agenda of every CIO.
By taking responsibility and investigating existing
technology that can streamline inefficient operations, companies can reduce
their energy bill and “green” their IT departments in a matter of weeks... and
go to bed with peace of mind.
* Tim James is a guest columnist and MD of sustainableIT, a
market leader in the fields of green ICT and sustainable computing. He will be
writing a monthly column exclusively for Fin24.