"The biggest impact you're going to make in your overall computing environment
is to get systems to go to sleep," says Dell's Weisblatt. For example,
a laptop that uses 14 to 90 watts in full operation uses less than 1 watt in
standby mode. Desktops consume even more, and a single CRT monitor may use upward
of 90 watts.
Most companies, however, aren't managing power settings in a coordinated way,
and many desktops don't have power management turned on at all.
Enhanced power management tools provided by system vendors aren't even installed
in the baseline system image of many corporate PCs. "We do all this work
to make [computers] optimized for power management, and we find big corporations
go and make changes and deoptimize it," says Howard Locker, director of
new technology at Lenovo.
The issue is that it takes IT extra work to integrate and test Lenovo's bundled
software with the company's standard image, he says. Often, organizations don't
want to take the time to do that.
Some corporations, however, are starting to get the message. Network administrator
Keith Brown deployed LANDesk Software's LANDesk to manage -- and lock down --
power settings on all laptops, desktops and attached monitors at Gwinnett Hospital
System in Lawrenceville, Ga.
Power savings at the network level
When it comes to networking, power savings are more difficult to come by. In
other words, sleep mode doesn't help much when the network never sleeps.
"If you want [your] YouTube video to come up in three seconds or less,"
quips Robert Aldrich, a senior manager specializing in energy efficiency at
Cisco Systems, "the switches moving those packets have to be in always-on
But he sees that changing. "By this time next year, any end devices we
sell will have some sort of power-efficiency mode. That's a big initiative for
us," he says.
Voice over IP and power over Ethernet (PoE) have also increased upfront office
power demands by pushing power consumption from a central PBX out onto the desktop.
An IP phone adds about 15 watts of power to each cubicle -- which adds up when
you have 1,000 or more users. The PoE-enabled switches in the wiring closet
also use more power than non-PoE models do.
Overall, however, a native VoIP system typically consumes less power than the
digital PBX system it replaces, Aldrich says.