Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Moving beyond power to efficiency

A guest post from Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E.

Power management is en vogue and everyone’s talking about it, particularly as energy costs are rising in tandem with increases in consumption. There is also a general acceptance about environmental change and the need that we have to reduce our impact on the environment. Many IT folks are well aware of the importance of power management and the part it plays in reducing energy consumption and cutting costs (although how much they do about it is another matter).

The problem with power is that it isn’t a discrete component of IT. The best way to measure its impact is to look at overall efficiency. It is important to measure whether IT is doing useful work or not. If it is not, you can not only save power but see a whole host of other benefits, including reducing hardware costs (by decommissioning servers); software (by finding and eliminating applications that are not used); as well as associated maintenance. Another factor to consider is the cost of the time that people spend on managing IT. These extra costs can amount to 10x the value of power itself. So if you save £10 on power you could save £100+ in terms of total IT running costs.

So while we started the debate with power, an area that 1E pioneered 13 years ago, what we have since found is that the debate has slowly but surely shifted to one around efficiency. Improving IT Efficiency tops the list for enterprises as they go into 2012, according to independent research firm Forrester Research, Inc.: “While 2011 started with a more robust IT spending environment, many organisations began to pull back midyear, and 2012 plans are expected to be more conservative given the high degree of uncertainty. [...] Efficiency and consolidation are top IT priorities.(1)

As an example, one in six servers – 15% in any single data centre at any one time – are not doing anything useful. It’s not about utilisation levels but about the business value that the server delivers; whether your servers are doing anything useful at all. If there’s no useful activity, then your investment is giving you absolutely no return.

Other thought-provoking statistics include:

  • A typical UK company with 1,000 PCs wastes £16,800 a year through not shutting down PCs.(2)

  • 22% of purchased software globally is never deployed.(3)

  • Between £650 and £1300 ($1000 and $2000) is spent on Windows 7 migrations per user – this could be saved if automated

  • 12% of IT help desk tickets are requests for new software. User self-service could save organisations in the UK and US over £5.6bn ($8.6bn) a year in IT help desk costs.(4)
All of these costs and waste are avoidable. In the quickly-evolving world of IT, efficiency is the next evolutionary step.


(1) Forrester Research, 2012 IT Budget Planning Guide for CIOs (October 27, 2011) (2) 1E/Alliance to Save Energy, PC Energy Report (3) 1E, Software Efficiency Report (4) 1E, Help Desk Efficiency Report

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