Five tips for low-energy business computing

By Robert L. Mitchell, Computerworld |  Green IT

Like 1E's SMSWakeUp, LANDesk takes advantage of Intel Corp.'s vPro Active Management
Technology (AMT), a feature built into its vPro series processors that supports
remote management. That allows LANDesk and similar tools to remotely turn on
PCs, upload updates, and turn them off again. "It allows you to do 'out-of-band'
management on desktops," allowing control even when machines are turned
off, explains Brown.

For times when laptops are turned on -- that is, when they're being used by
employees -- Lenovo recommends configuring the disk drive to spin down after
five minutes of inactivity, the monitor to go blank at 10 minutes, and the machine
to go into standby, or suspend, mode after 20 minutes.

Others, such as Amory Lovins, chairman and chief scientist at the energy efficiency
think tank Rocky Mountain Institute, recommend even more aggressive settings.
He suggests turning off monitors and spinning down the disk drive after just
two or three minutes of inactivity.

Verizon's Waghray says he had no trouble enforcing power-saving settings. Machines
power off at 12:30 a.m. and back on at 5:30 a.m. Desktop monitors and hard drives
go into power-saving mode after two hours, while on thin clients the monitors
and processors go into low-power mode after 20 minutes of inactivity.

At Gieger, things were different. While the company does centrally control
power management settings, it has had to back off a bit. "There's been
a little bit of pushback on that, so we're taking baby steps," Marshall
says, noting that current monitor timeouts are set for one hour.

The problem for users is that recovery times vary. Getting back online from
hibernate mode, where the system turns off and the system's state is saved to
disk, can take up to 30 seconds. It takes just a few seconds, though, to recover
from low-power suspend mode or for the monitor or disk drive to come back to
life. Still, some users don't like to wait at all, says Marshall.

Every organization needs to find the right balance, managers say. "A few
seconds of [wait] time for the average person is not going to be invasive,"
says Jorge Bandin, vice president of information systems and technology at hosted
services provider Terremark Worldwide Inc. His company forces all PCs to go
into sleep mode after 30 minutes of inactivity.

In a call center, where computers are in use all the time, sleep mode less
of an issue, but even so, people aren't given a choice, says Waghray. When users
step away from a console for more than a couple of minutes, the system is powered
down and locked.

3. Dump those CRTs

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