Copenhagen Countdown Part 1: Power Management

A look at how ICT can help the climate change cause

In the lead up to Copenhagen, Computerworld spoke with CSC CTO and National Director of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Bob Hayward, Fujitsu's director of sustainability, Alison O'Flynn, about the top five technologies that could help organisations and individuals reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

We kick off the series with a look at Power Management.

Reducing the everyday energy usage of electronics in organisations is a key way to lower carbon emissions. Managing power consumption of computers, laptops, servers and other electrical appliances in organisations can be achieved through simply turning off the power or switching the system to a low-power status when not in use.

This was the premise of the successful Computers Off Australia (COA) campaign which has taken off in New Zealand and also the UK. Founded by Australian Mark Winter, COA, the campaign provides a labeling scheme according to their level of C02 emissions. The scheme, designed to assist the ICT industry to identify organisations doing their part to reduce power consumption and CO2 emissions, is one way businesses and government are adopting more sustainable IT practices.

Another way organisations, governments and individuals can reduce energy consumption is through installing power management software which provides an automatic functionality that turns off electrical appliances, such as computers and computer peripherals or switches the system to sleep mode when inactive.

“There are a host of technologies that help reduce the power draw of desktop and laptops,” Hayward said. “The technologies available basically turnoff computers when they are not being used for period of time and then power them on again at certain time of days when they are being used again.”

Greetrack, WakeonLand and Nightwatchman are some examples of software products that offer this functionality - automatic turn-on and off, and time scheduling systems to operate the automatic turn-off function. Such features help to lower energy consumption by limiting the length of time equipment are left switched on or when the screen saver is left running.

The task of switching off a computer or laptop may appear too simple a solution when compared with the enormity of the global environmental situation, but according to Hayward every step counts. It all adds up when you multiple the number of computers left on or the number of screen savers left running by the number of users in a company, he said.

Organisations and governments can also manage and reduce energy consumption by looking at the design and layout of data centres. Data centres are fundamental business assets for any industry, but the amount of energy data centres consume can cost organisations and the environment millions of dollars.

As a major source of opportunities for companies to improve their business and the flexibility of their business, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of data centre operation can add to the value to the business chain from top to bottom. Running an energy efficient data centre will not only help to reduce direct business costs such as electricity bills, it will also lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced when running data centres. Reworking the design and layout of data centres and their cooling systems would not only lead to more energy-efficient data centre construction, but provide possibilities for renewable energy as a sources of power fro running data centres. We take a deeper look at data centres in a couple of days.

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Power management solutions:

The Green Grid

WakeonLan

Nightwatchman

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