Fertile soil for saving

Aug 27 2012 07:24
Tim James

WHENEVER I speak to chief information officers or technologists about sustainable IT strategies, their eyes glaze over.

In most people's minds, going green is still about environmental activism, tree-hugging and warm fuzzy feelings as opposed to being a strategy that adds real business and financial value.

The reality is that carbon reduction is only a small portion of a broader subset of sustainability goals. Adopting energy efficient principles has a hard, monetary payoff - with surprisingly little effort.

What IT waste is and isn't

The perception exists that IT waste is limited to outdated hardware – old PC monitors, keyboards, cellphones, etc. But there are several ways that IT operations waste time and money within an organisation which go largely unnoticed.

Most IT departments are given a "free ride" when it comes to reducing their energy consumption or software costs.

There are three types of IT waste that I believe are extremely prevalent in organisations today, and that should be eradicated:

• Inefficient PC power management

We recently conducted an analysis of one of the top four banks in the country, and found that 98% of their PCs were left on overnight as per instruction from their IT department.

This is quite common as IT departments conduct security patching after hours and mistakenly believe that all PCs should be turned on at all times for them to do so.

If 10 000 PCs are left on overnight, that means that 2 600 tonnes of CO2 is being released - unnecessarily. That translates into an unnecessary electricity spend of R2m.

Simple tooling can shut PCs down and "wake them" remotely without making any changes to network security whatsoever.

• Unnecessary/overused servers

Gartner has revealed that 12-14% of the world's servers actually have no use whatsoever. When it comes to servers, most companies are hesitant to take action to remove or optimise them.

The reality is that this is wasting energy, when it's easy to actually identify and remove those servers and optimise the rest.

We are able to determine when servers are doing "useful" work (eg the type done by employees in the course of the day) and when they are busy with "housekeeping" computing (such as antivirus or indexing checks) that are necessary but inefficient.

By forcing the server software into the lowest energy-using state while still running, you can cut your data centre energy use by 12% with no impact on performance. Large companies with thousands of servers can cut costs dramatically.

Then there is the issue of distribution points. Large geographically dispersed organisations (particularly banks and retailers) often invest in huge server infrastructures that are extremely hard to maintain.

Staff have to be called out to install software on each individual server at each individual branch. Why not replace secondary site servers with a few centrally located servers?

This not only reduces your hardware spend, but your maintenance and staff costs too, freeing your IT team up to do more within your network.

• Unused software

Most organisations have either unused software (installed on PCs, but not needed or used) or shelfware (software that is purchased by never deployed) in their organisation.

What they don't realise is that the maintenance costs for this software can run between 15-20% of the licence fee.

Add to that the fact that we typically see between 20-40% of software being installed remaining entirely unused at any given company, and you're paying a hefty price tag for no reason whatsoever.

In the United States alone, they believe that this accounts for $12.3bn in preventable and ongoing costs. Of course, not all software is being installed with the consent of the IT department.

"Rogue" software, such as games and user productivity software, also represents a reputational and security risk to companies if it is not managed and controlled. It's important that companies determine what they own, what they are actually using, and what they really need.

Efficient IT is not just about saving the world, but saving the money that makes the world go round. By implementing unobtrusive software, your IT department can not only contribute to your green status but also cut costs dramatically.

 - Fin24

*Tim James is the owner of sustainableIT and the distributor of 1E.

*Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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