Problem: Half of the bank's PCs were typically left running overnight and on weekends, adding needlessly to the bank's utility costs.
Solution: A power management solution that automatically shuts computers off when they're not being used.
Kiwibank of Wellington, New Zealand, had just finished a major "forklift" hardware upgrade of its International Business Machines System p servers supporting its core banking engine. It was looking for money-saving opportunities after allocating significant funds to new Unix-based boxes and some updated IBM System x servers powering the bank's Microsoft applications.
Kiwibank, a wholly owned subsidiary of New Zealand's postal service, had also been discussing methods for reducing energy consumption as part of overall sustainability plans. By the end of 2009, management had set real conservation goals that focused specifically on information technology. The aim was to make "green" investments that would show real returns for the bank by saving it money.
Personal computer power and patch management software that will automatically shut down fleets of PCs either overnight or any time the computers are not being used — and then "wake" them up when required in the off-hours for patching, updating or other needs — quickly rose to the top of Kiwibank's green cost-reduction priorities.
That's because the marketed benefits seem to make so much sense. Projections of PC power consumption and estimated electricity costs, when multiplied and then compared with the expense of PC power management software, often show companies should receive significant savings from deploying PC management tools, at least when compared with the costs incurred by computers that would otherwise remain running overnight or on weekends.
Kiwibank had yet to cull results at press time from its nearly year-long deployment of PC power and patch management tools from the New York and London vendor 1E. However, the bank says it's on track to recoup $18,614 in annual savings projected from an audit by Energy and Technical Services Ltd., a consulting firm that works for New Zealand's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.
The consultant had estimated Kiwibank would save on its electric bill by using 1E's Nightwatchman power management tool for a year to manage the bank's entire fleet of PCs. The New Zealand government had offered Kiwibank a grant worth about $20,477 (near the time it was applied) to pay for the solution, if Nightwatchman could show convincing potential for reducing energy costs during testing. The funds were allocated based on a pilot test that tracked power consumption with NightWatchman deployed on a representative sample of 57 of Kiwibank's PCs and seven laptops. The test showed that 60% of the bank's desktop PCs and 44% of its laptops were left on over weeknights, while more than 50% of PCs and more than half of laptops remained running over weekends.
The grant ended up helping Kiwibank considerably, as otherwise "the software alone would have cost us somewhere in the vicinity of $26,573, plus $4.70 per user, per license," says Esme Petelo, head of IT management support at Kiwibank.
The projected $18,614 in annual savings Kiwibank cites from turning those systems off comes from estimates that resulted from a separate assessment with models and analytics the consultant used, which are different from those 1E deployments, Petelo says. The second test included two weeks of monitoring usage and projected utility costs with Nightwatchman rolled out to the bank's 900 PCs in January 2011; one week with NightWatchman turned on and shutting down computers; one week with the solution turned off.
It remains difficult to find real results that prove the slew of available savings estimates said to emanate from any company's use of PC management tools. But if the projections can be verified as accurate from objective findings that show real, post-deployment utility bill reductions, then "PC power management should be on every IT professional's checklist of low-hanging fruit to reduce costs," according to a report from Doug Washburn, an analyst at Forrester Research.
Solutions similar to 1E's include Symantec's Altiris; IBM's BigFix; Data Synergy's PowerMAN; Enterprise Infrastructure Partners' eiPower; Faronics' Power Save; and Verdiem's Surveyor. Kiwibank chose NightWatchman and WakeUp because 1E's power and patch management programs are compatible with Microsoft's configuration management system, which the bank uses for asset management, Petelo says. "No other solution in the market is as tightly integrated," she says. "NightWatchman and WakeUp could work on their own, but they also integrate very well with" System Center Configuration Manager.