Green PC's is a topic that is considerably more than only energy management. While I do not want to discount any other aspect of sustainability, recent discussions in the day to day conversations with businesses has led me today to focus on energy management or perhaps,better said, energy consumption as a starting point for sustainability for this posting on the blog.
As is the case with all of my blogging, the opinions expressed are my own and not those of my employer.
As common ground, it is widely known and understood that newer PC's, both desktops and laptops, consume less power than their previous year counterparts. Depending upon the age of the devices, the power consumpution can range from a difference of $30 to $50 annually depending upon various considerations. In my dialogs with businesses, one of the key themes that I almost continually observe is that while PC conservation counter measures are widely understood, IT itself does typcially not participate in the benefits. The actually dollar impact is usually held within the facilities groups and then accrues to the corporate organization.
It is also frequently acknowledged that without IT enabling the counter measures (such as power settings, governance, reporting, base lining, third party software, etc.) energy management in client computing would be sub-optimzed.
In these tough economic times, stewardship is a solid strategy, but at the end of the day, quite often the dialog could end up with "what have you done to reduce your expenditures, not any department's or group's other than your own". In other words, "what have you done for me lately". This places IT in a precarious position- stewardship and the time investment required, or focus on other areas that directly impact the IT budget. Are you seeing the same or similar dynamic?
As power management becomes a larger dollar figure since older PC's result in a larger refresh typically, the potential impact becomes significant. Depending on the business case, energy management (and other aspects of green computing) are identified and are drivers of change.
I believe that there will be a point in time, hopefully in the near term, where IT will be able to secure benefits from power management on the client computing side, it typcially occurs already on the data center side. The power consumption amounts can now be base lined and measured, and easily reported for substantiation. My opinion is that just as IT allocates costs to the business units for IT support, IT should also receive an allocation back to offset the IT budget for establishing a program which reduces the enterprise's overall cost of doing buisness. This would then reduce the business unit allocation, making it easier for IT to execute and implement client computing strategies that benefit the entire organization.
As IT is asked to reduce the year to year spend and continuously improve with fewer resources, power manangement is usually low hanging fruit in the sense of immediate fiscal year impact. However, if there is no formal reduction in the IT spend, it may not count.
It would be a shame if organizations miss the overall opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint and all of the attendent benefits because of a metric recognition issue in the business, but yet it is occurring. Perhaps business should treat energy management in a holistic approach which would provide accounting entries that could offset either the investments (resources and software) plus reduce the IT budget since in reality IT is doing more with less, it is just coming from a different budget or account.
Accounting issues aside, there is a larger picture. Energy management is a part of the larger story board in sustainability, and as such it is a project. Projects are typcially far reaching orgnaizationally and the project plan needs to consider the appropriate metrics to enable IT to not only engage, but to engage with the empowerment that is derived from metric recognition. What do you think?