When Will All Our PCs Be Managed?

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Eighty percent of our PCs are free to stay on all night right now. Peter Judge thinks this will change very soon

We all know that managing the power state of our PCs is the quickest win in any move to reduce IT power use, and cut our carbon footprint. But a vast majority (perhaps 80 percent) of the nation’s desktop computers are unmanaged, and many of them remain on overnight, humming  away, burning electricity and warming empty rooms.

Why is this? Well all the usual reasons apply, same as for any other green issue. Setting up power management is a hassle, it can raise security issues (PCs on remote sites are programmed to respond to calls from head office) and it can be seen as irritating, for instance if staff working late find their PCs want sleep as much as they do.

Your chance to save £25 per year per desk

There are of course answers to all these issues, and the power management sector has put them in place. For any big companies that haven’t done so, there’s an opportunity to save £25 a year for each of your PCs, for the cost of an investment that will pay back within six months.

But for small companies there may be issues, as the solutions are generally aimed at those with hundreds or thousands of desktops. This week’s Green IT Expo saw some companies making steps in that direction, with Verismic discussing a cloud-based system which manages PC power remotely.

There will be issues, convincing the people responsible for IT in small companies to allow a web-based service access to their LAN, and the ability to turn PCs off and on, or to “manage their state”, as Verismic prefers to describe it.

That brings back the security issue, and it may also resurrect the issue of selling the idea to users.

One day, you won’t have to think about this

But the idea is obviously needed, and a good approach to the problem. But in the long term, other things may take its place.

Firstly, PCs themselves will get better at managing their power state. Better sleep states result in lower power, and deliver much of the savings from PC power management. Newer operating systems will have ever-increasing power management built in.

Major PC management products like Microsoft SMS include power, and with more consumer PCs continuously connected, it’s likely that power management could come with the PC when you buy it.

It’s fair to assume that in a few years’ time, what is currently a fruitful market, will be absorbed into the basic kit people buy, just like disk compression and IP protocol stacks and so many other things.

Power management is a great topic right now. In a few years’ time it may have been achieved so completely it is invisible to the naked eye.

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