Daily Archives: August 20, 2008

Green Your Desktops and Keep Even More Green in Your Bank Account

In yesterday’s post I asked you, as a supply and spend management professional, to take heed because you can save bags upon bags of money by forcing IT to Green your data centers – and please the grippies (green hippies) at the same time as you drastically reduce your energy requirements and, consequentially, your carbon footprint. But that’s not all you can do! You can also green your desktops and save more bags of money. Many more!

Even though many computer manufacturers are now releasing desktops that run on as little as 120W of power, which is much better than the 300W to 450W a workstation sucked up in years past, that’s still at least twenty (20) times as much power as a normal office workstation should be consuming when you consider that a Sun Ray 2 has a typical power consumption of 4W; and still at least five (5) times what a high-end developer workstation should be consuming when you consider that a IBM CP-20 only requires 25W. Now it’s true that these light-weight thin clients require virtualization and heavy-duty servers on the back end, but when you consider that one processor on a modern server can generally support four (4) users, and that modern servers will have four processors per core, and that mid range servers generally have four cores, that says that you can support up to sixty-four (64) users on one server! Now, it’s also true that this heavyweight server is likely to suck up 800W of power, but what’s more energy friendly: one 800W server and sixty-four 4W thin-clients or sixty-four 120W workstations? You guessed it, the heavy weight server with the light-weight thin-clients, by a factor of 86%! And if you already have a data center with under utilized servers configured for virtualization, you might not even need to add a server to replace your power-hogging desktops with light-weight thin clients.

Now I’m sure you’ve already come up with half a dozen objections (which could likely be augmented by your vendor of traditional fat-client desktops) as to why you can’t do this, including “I need my own environment“, “my data needs to be secure“, “I need fast response time“, “I need a local hard drive“, etc. but the reality is that you can do this and all of your objections are likely invalid. Here’s why:

  • you still get your own environment, it’s just stored on a server
  • your data is more secure because your server room is likely locked down tighter than most military installations, while anyone could walk in and walk out of your office with your desktop under their arm (but if they walk off with the SunRay, because it’s just a dumb terminal, they get nothing – as they can’t even access the device without an active smartcard and a connection to your network); in addition, you can lock everything down so that your employees only have access to the applications and data you allow them to access
  • modern virtualization environments allow for dedicated processor time-slices and resources to priority processes – so you can not only be guaranteed of fast response times, but more processing power than you could have on a desktop if you really do need it
  • these devices have USB ports and you can back up locally if you really need to; or, if security is an issue, you can remotely disable the capability by user account on the server and prevent data theft
  • plus, it reduces support requirements; since all workspace images are on the server, your IT can update them all at once on the server with one simple update command – no more walking around to every desktop to do an install (which is common even if you have network install capability, as a network admin will still have to go turn the machine on or reboot it if it locks up)
  • it reduces support requirements more than you think; with virtualization, the data image can be separated from the environment image, and if you mess up your environment, your network administrator can replace it with a clean copy in about 15 minutes
  • it reduces hardware requirements more than you think – as you can integrate with your VOIP-based telecom system if you desire
  • it reduces the amount of hardware you need more than you think, as you no longer need to buy your employees who need to work on the road or from home a laptop or second machine as they can pick up the thin client, take it home, plug it in to their high-speed internet connection, and connect to your network over a VPN with a properly configured smartcard; and, again, if the thin client gets stolen, you don’t lose any sensitive data as nothing is stored on the client
  • it reduces your energy requirement even more than you think, because most thin clients automatically power down to a sleep mode that requires less than 1W of power when not in use. An employee could accidentally leave one on during their month long vacation and it would consume less power than an average workstation would consume in an hour.
  • you’ll save a lot more money than you think you will; most office users only require office applications which run great on the SunRay, which can be obtained for $299; if you have developers using graphics, multimedia, or data intensive applications, then you’d need something like the CP-20 which can be obtained for $599. Compare that to an average workstation configuration of $599+ for an office worker and $1499+ for a high-end developer workstation and even factoring in the cost of a few servers, you save a bundle. Plus, you’ll get 6 to 7 years out of a thin client whereas a desktop typically only lasts 3 years.

Now, at this point, I hope you’re asking “How do I start?” and “How do I figure out how much money I really could save by helping my organization move to Green IT?. The answer is still to start with an audit that analyzes your current infrastructure and user needs and comes up with an optimal network and infrastructure design and configuration that uses best-of-breed technology to meet your current computing needs with less energy and less hardware investment then it would cost to simply keep operating on the same energy-inefficient model. Then you can replace your machines in phases, starting right away with the oldest, and watch the savings rack up year over year … as your energy and hardware costs will go down … way down!

Again, if you’re looking for someone to call on for help with this type of audit, I would again consider NCS Network. The first provider in Canada to offer a green data center solution, they have a lot of experience with Green IT technologies and have saved some clients as much as 75% on their annual IT-related costs (by simultaneously upgrading their data centers and desktops with optimal best-of-breed Green IT solutions). In one case, they reduced a client’s IT energy footprint by 94%! Imagine how fast your savings would rack up even if you were already fairly efficient and they found that efficiency could only be improved by half of that, or 47%. Run the calculations. I’m sure they’ll tell you what I’m telling you – green your IT and you will save bags of money – which is the one kind of green we all care about.

Furthermore, if you call NCS Network and mention that you heard about them on Sourcing Innovation and book an audit before September 30, 2008, they’ll give you 10% off of their standard rates, which are advertised on this page.

In full disclosure, although I do not own any shares in NCS Network, or get any commission for referring you to their services, there is a partnership between NCS Network and the doctor‘s company, whereby the doctor may serve as their Chief Software Architect on a consulting basis when an NCS Network client needs a senior software architect and Emerich Winkler of NCS Network may serve as the doctor‘s Chief Network Architect on a consulting basis when one ofthe doctor‘s client needs a senior network architect. However, if you hire them, and don’t hire me, I get zip, zero, and zilch and there’s really no financial incentive for the doctor to recommend NCS Network to you.