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IT Vs. the Permanent Energy Crisis

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the damn-fusion-scientists-are-late-again dept.

Power 285

snydeq writes "Organizations looking to remain profitable in the face of escalating energy costs may lean even harder on IT to achieve energy efficiencies in the years to come, InfoWorld reports. But instead of limiting IT's efficiency role to the datacenter, companies will tap IT's vast knowledge of company networks, equipment, and work processes to uncover efficiencies across the organization, in some cases tipping facilities management into IT. 'There is a lot IT can do to fix its own 2 percent [of the company's carbon emissions] and make it more efficient, but the big opportunity for IT is to take a leadership role in tackling that other 98 percent across the business,' says one analyst. And by taking charge of the organization's energy strategy now, IT will be in prime position to alter its relationship with management and reap benefits in the boardroom in the years ahead, analysts contend."

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285 comments

My solution (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936585)

Go back to the abacus. Computers are overrated. Penthouse can take over the only other computer function.

Re:My solution (4, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937111)

Go back to the abacus. Computers are overrated. Penthouse can take over the only other computer function.

Actually, I remember seeing a documentary showing kids in Asian countries learning how to perform calculations using an abacus. They become lightening fast with it, some even able to do calculations 'in their heads' using an imaginary abacus. It helps them to visualize numbers and visualize the processes of arithmetic.

Re:My solution (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937163)

I look forward to the Nvidia 3d card abaci ! Surely advanced technology like that will be able to run Crysis, right ?

I wonder what the framerate is. Do we have YPF as a measure yet ? Years per frame.

Re:My solution (2, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937325)

It helps them to visualize numbers and visualize the processes of arithmetic.

Probably an education emphasizing the use of wetware a little more would lead to the creation of more visionaries in the 'Westen World'. Yes, I know, old stuff (Computer Power and Human Reason by Joseph Weizenbaum, 1976).

CC.

Obligatory Penny Arcade strip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937119)

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/9/3/

IT Wins? (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936605)

"IT will be in prime position to alter its relationship with management and reap benefits in the boardroom in the years ahead, analysts contend."

Ahh, more responsibility, additional liability, same pay scale.

Re:IT Wins? (4, Insightful)

EvilIntelligence (1339913) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936669)

I agree. This will be just another way for executives to tell IT to do "more with less", or sometimes "everything with nothing". It's bad enough that people want IT to stuff 100gb of data into 10gb of storage, but now you have to do it eco-friendly, too. The problem is that getting more eco-friendly means changing out some fundamental infrastructure, such as the air conditioning to keep the server room cool. How do you get rid of that? Buy a big block of dry ice and run a fan over it? Or do you get an air conditioner that runs on... what, wind power? Hydrogen? Fine, but that will cost some investment in research, which companies will NOT do.

Re:IT Wins? (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936765)

Or, you could just shut your computer off after you leave.

No, really.

Re:IT Wins? (5, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937529)

That is your great idea ? That accounts for less than a thousanth of a percent of energy usage.

We actually *use* energy you know. That's not to say we can't use it more efficiently, but stopping any of the really energy intensive processes in civilization is a non-starter.

Think about heating, you can do with slightly less, but not much. Everything above 50-55 degrees north would be utterly unliveable. Most of Europe would have to be abandoned.

Think about transportation, again a *little* less should be liveable. Any real reduction is totally out of the question. Cities 1% of the size of anything remotely resembling a metropolis would be out of the question, for way, WAY too expensive to maintain.

And of course the real energy sponges : The human body is about 6% efficient (energy intake vs energy expenditure), and eats either plants (themselves 2% efficient) but also has to eat meat (eating only meat gets us to about 8-9% efficiency) (and cows are some 12% efficient, eating 2% efficient plants). This is a very, very generous amount of efficiency to give the human body since it counts human body heat as work, and most factory floor supervisors will disagree with that being "useful labour" however if you take it out, even a tenth of a percent would barely be attainable for a human body)

Let's say you're a normal person. You eat 100 grams of meat for 900 grams of vegetables you eat. That means you're 90% * 6% * 2% + 10% * 8% * 12% * 2% efficient.

That means that all the energy you expend, running (200-300 watts), thinking (150-200 kcal/day), keeping your body at 37degrees, which feeds most of your cell processes (2200-3500 kilocalories per day) is 0.10992% efficient.

Suddenly that SUV that is about 12% efficient at 16 miles per gallon doesn't seem at all wasteful anymore. If you could somehow digest oil, you wouldn't be able to run half that distance, and certainly not with 500 kg of load on your back.

And the worst part of the human body. The total amount of human bodies in the world grows at 1.6% per year.

Energy conservation, making stuff more efficient is something we can do *once* and we can't make the human body any more efficient at all, we can only replace it. For everything else there are fundamental limits we cannot cross, any really big differences are either already caught, or will be caught the first time we try to fix things (ie. they've been caught in the last 4-5 years). We're not going to save much beyond that first drive.

Say the wet dream of every environmentalist comes true. God descends from heaven and says that all cars drive on electricity at 90% efficiency from now on. Great ! He's just saved us about 60% on the current energy cost of transportation. That will provide for "normal" economical growth without growing energy levels for ... 10 years. There can be only one reasonable conclusion : we need *more* energy. Not less.

Conservation is hopeless. We need new energy sources (and nuclear will do very nicely thank you), and after that we need nuclear fusion, and move part of the species into space.

Btw, in case anybody likes to think "nature is so much better" well no, nature is actually worse, as in less efficient than civilization, in energy usage (incidentially that is why there is so very much oxygen, a (relatively) unstable chemical in the athmosphere in the first place, and so very, very little co2 (without nature, the "natural" state of the athmosphere would be to be so filled with co2 that humans (or animals for that matter) wouldn't be able to breathe).

Re:IT Wins? (3, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936779)

Nono, Dry ice is CO2. You have any idea how bad your carbon footprint will look if you use that?

Here's one idea: Upgrade the server room AC to use heat pumps that can put the heat back into the building where it's needed.

Another idea: Upgrade lighting and switching. Do all of the lights need to be on all of the time? Probably not. Add more switches to light only the parts of the room that need it, and occupancy sensors to make sure they're turned off when everyone leaves.
=Smidge=

That would never work at a college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24936945)

and occupancy sensors to make sure they're turned off when everyone leaves.

I once had a professor who was so boring, the occupancy sensors would turn the lights off 3 or 4 times each lecture.

Re:IT Wins? (5, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937195)

great, now I'll need to flap my arms every 5 minutes in my office.

Re:IT Wins? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937381)

great, now I'll need to flap my arms every 5 minutes in my office.

Lucky you! I had to get up and walk over to the door or throw my trashcan at the sensor. Now the sensor's covered and at night I just turn on a lamp. I never wanted those stupid things on during the day anyway, so I'm saving power. Stupid "green" building.

Re:IT Wins? (5, Interesting)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937555)

Both you and the PP bring up very good points - energy saving design won't do a damned thing if the building occupants can override them.

I'm a project manager for a Very Large Non Profit, and I build buildings ("Hi, Project Manager"). The absolute, positive biggest challenge I face isn't the contractors, or suppliers, or the local government - it's the end users (IT included) that simply CANNOT accept when they don't get things their way. I've had entire departments threaten not to move in because their space was laid out the way the *previous* director wanted it. I've had VP's in a tizzy over the fact that they had to tell their people they could not bring their fans, space heaters, and coffee makers to the new buildings and plug them into their cubicles.

As for building controls, it doesn't matter if you have a system set on a timer or occupancy - someone, at some point, will override those controls based on a request from higher, and they will stay that way. Openable windows? They will STAY open, regardless of the temperature outside. Natural light? It's too bright for Ms Delicate Skin - buy some blinds.

Energy conservation is about People Control, not Building Controls.

Re:IT Wins? (2, Informative)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937367)

"Here's one idea: Upgrade the server room AC to use heat pumps that can put the heat back into the building where it's needed."

Sigh. Do you even know what a heat pump is?

ALL cooling units are basically "heat pumps" - taking heat from one place and rejecting it to another. So, you are suggesting that the heat pumped away from the server rooms be pumped back into the building for heating. No problem with existing equipment - a lot of it is water cooled.

But wait.

Most office type buildings require cooling all year round - people and office machines put out a LOT of heat. In winter, they require heat at the perimeters, but it's hard to get 140F water out of anything but a boiler. And since the heating water return is about 120F, that would require the condenser water for the heat pump to be above that temp. And if you told Liebert that you wanted an AC unit that rejected heat to 130F condenser water, you'd be laughed at.

You need to obey the Laws of Thermodynamics whether you live in the Simpsons house or not.

Re:IT Wins? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937585)

You are correct. the "Energy Crisis" is nothing but a red herring for management to use to whip It people and departments with. It's utter bullshit and they know it.

Us in IT have been asking for higher end hardware that uses less power, we are offered a budget to buy the low end crap that uses power like it's going out of style. We are told "that's too expensive" because the first place they cut budget is IT and infrastructure. Here in my town GVSU built a office building for their great lakes studies that get's 80% of it's power from solar and wind power. the roof is covered in solar panels and they have 3 wind generators now. they built the place right, it will generate a thermal siphon for cooling in summer, and warm a concrete wall for heat in the winter from the south facing glass walls. all way up here near the 43rd parallel. It's called not being stupid like most corperations and building substandard buildings and substandard infrastructure. You can easily cut IT power and heat generation by buying the right stuff. You can generate your own energy easily, and you can have your building built right to nearly cut energy costs by 1/2...

American corporations refuse to do it. They prefer to build and buy as cheap as possible as next quarter is what's important, not 5-10 years down the road.

Exactly. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936735)

From TFA:

The benefits of analysis-based energy management include lower costs for energy, decreased equipment maintenance costs, a reduced carbon footprint, consistency across the real estate portfolio, and increased effectiveness and decreased cost of the extended enterprise, says Dan Sharplin, CEO at Site Controls, a building automation supplier.

In order:
No.
No.
Maybe.
WTF does that mean?
No.
and no.

Saving energy in IT means two things.
#1. Reducing usage.
#2. Buying more efficient components.

Since, if anything, usage demands grow over time the only thing you're left with is hoping that someone develops components that deliver the same performance at a lower power cost.

If you want to cut the power usage of the IT department, encourage remote workers. It doesn't help overall, but it moves the power usage to the user's home.

Re:Exactly. (1)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936787)

remote worker's use far less energy - if one assumes the home would have been kept Air-conditioned anyway - one more person doesn't raise the cost much. The computer power of course is negligible.

Re:Exactly. (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936925)

You know, it is in fact possible to survive in most parts of the world without air conditioning. Yes I know it's shocking, but it's a fact of life.

Also computer power being negligible? Well yeah, if you drop enough money for good equipment. Most cheap ass computers comes with power supplies going at full capacity + cheap screens will likely send your power usage above the 300W, doing that 8 hours a day from home is far from negligible.

Re:Exactly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937201)

True, but on the flip side of that, the building in said climates will need to be heated in winter. Unless you can find me a part of the world that has a range of temperatures less than 15 degrees (centigrade) which is suitable (ie. affordable) for business, it looks like we're stuck with climate controlled buildings.

Re:Exactly. (1)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937217)

not if they use a laptop, or a decent cheap computer which is what most people need anyways, not the 300W+ monsters that seem to be the norm these days for anything with a video card that is near the high end.

Most laptop power supplies are like 100->200W at the most. And they charge the battery as well as let you use the computer, so if you've got a full battery then it's probably less.

Totally not negligible (2, Insightful)

Bishop Rook (1281208) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937255)

Yes, that's like 12 kWh per week! Why, at 10c/kWh, that would be almost $5 per month.

And most cheap ass computers come with power supplies at 300W peak, but the average draw is closer to 100W. For an average small LCD panel it's around 50-100W. So you're looking at 150-200W of draw, not 300W. That's if they're not using a laptop, which would be probably around 20W.

But that's beside the point, because even if your employees are working from home, you still need to be running your servers. Having remote workers does save on travel time and gas usage though.

Re:Exactly. (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937263)

>You know, it is in fact possible to survive in most parts of the world without air conditioning.

Yes, of course, but if you want me to exchange my time in order for you to take advantage of my skilled labor, I shall do much more than merely "survive."

This is not negotiable.

I can "subsist" without making myself part of your corporate enterprise, get it?

If I work for you, I'm doing it for the rewards, and I have no shame in asking for the money.

On the other hand, when I've worked in IT I haven't had the problems that are so often reported by people who seem to do nothing but suffer.

Re:Exactly. (3, Informative)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937315)

Most cheap ass computers comes with power supplies going at full capacity + cheap screens will likely send your power usage above the 300W, doing that 8 hours a day from home is far from negligible.

You'll find that most computers draw about 100W while working, and displays generally power down to 5W or less when left alone. Don't believe me? use killawatt or an ammeter and check it out yourself.

Re:Exactly. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937361)

You know, it is in fact possible to survive in most parts of the world without air conditioning. Yes I know it's shocking, but it's a fact of life.

Yeah, so? What's your point? If you don't want A/C, feel free to turn it off in your own home.

Personally, I and most other people are not willing to work in an office without A/C, especially here in Arizona where it's 120 in the summer. It would be nice if they'd turn the thermostat up just a bit where I work though.

Re:Exactly. (2, Interesting)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936955)

If you want to cut the power usage of the IT department, encourage remote workers. It doesn't help overall, but it moves the power usage to the user's home.

Actually, it was mentioned in TFA that having someone remote work doesn't reduce the energy load @ the office unless the office is smart enough to shut down the extra heating/cooling/lighting. Thus the discussion about tying LDAP logins to the heating/cooling/lighting system. When the last person logs out, shut down the AC/Heating, and 10 minutes later have the lights go out - that type of automation is the heart of using IT & it's many tendrils to help reduce corporate energy consumption.

Of course I think that getting people to listen to IT when they say something is overkill would be nice too. I've seen too many high end PC's doing nothing but lightweight WP & Email to think that there isn't substantial savings there. I know of at least 2 quad core systems w/ high end graphics cards that have never done anything harder than open up a webpage.

Re:Exactly. (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937429)

Saving energy in IT means two things.
#1. Reducing usage.
#2. Buying more efficient components.

If the energy usage reaches a point where it really hurts,
#3. Invest in more efficient software so you can make do with slower but less power hungry components.

But for that Management needs to be desperate about energy costs. Because optimizig software is time consuming and expensive.

Let IT go nuclear (4, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936611)

Using conservation to reduce carbon emissions assumes a carbon based power source. Why not take all the brain power you are going to throw at conservation and throw it into developing wind, solar, and nuclear as power sources?

Re:Let IT go nuclear (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24936709)

Because that would:
A) Solve the problem, thereby removing all the juicy paychecks consultants can get, and

B) Disrupt the oil-drenched hegemony ruling the USA.

Can't have that now, can we.

Re:Let IT go nuclear (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937461)

Why? Uranium and thorium come from the ground, too. The "hegemony" can build mines, and would certainly enjoy the extra barriers to entry that the additional regulation a nuclear America would "require."

Of course, the only part of our energy infrastructure that is heavily dependent on oil happens to be the one which is unsuitable for more robust systems due mostly to weight concerns, but don't let that get in the way of a good anti-capitalist rant.

Re:Let IT go nuclear (2, Insightful)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936729)

I don't think the goal is to take the easy way out. I think the goal is to find ways to make energy consumption much more efficient so that the tools and methodologies you develop can be applied to other kinds of power sources. Eventually, our spaceships are going to be working on limited supplies of fuel, and "just using solar power" or some other alternative source of energy isn't gonna work out real well.

What we need is to give a big boost to the people who work exclusively to make stuff more efficient. It's clear that they've been neglected for a while in favor of profiteering, because cost-cutting beats efficiency on the next quarterly report every time. The problem is, if you don't keep that downward spiral going, you crash.

A lot of people are starting to realize that building more efficient systems beats cost-cutting in the long run, and right now the long run is all America has left.

Re:Let IT go nuclear (0, Troll)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937091)

Heh, there is no more 'long run', this civilization has hosed itself. Might as well be the captain of the Titanic right about the time the lookout said 'Iceburg ahead'. Already screwed. Typical humans, always reacting after it is too late.

All go have a cold one, relax...

Re:Let IT go nuclear (4, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936763)

Because there's a lot of immediate low hanging fruit to be had from simple conservation and efficiency measures, because it will take decades to seriously ramp up our non-fossil power infrastructure, and because conservation+alternative energy is achieves more than alternative energy alone.

Re:Let IT go nuclear (2, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936835)

So you are in favor of investing in both conservation and non-fossil power? Me too. How about nuclear? Are you willing to invest in that as a non-fossil source?

Re:Let IT go nuclear (4, Funny)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937469)

How about nuclear? Are you willing to invest in that as a non-fossil source?

Nuclear power is immoral on the grounds that it desecrates the remains of dead stars. It would be like using mummies for fuel. If you think their curse was bad, just wait until a wormhole-ridden undead white giant comes after you for vengeance. It really sucks, you know.

And don't except mercy, it ended its life with a heart of iron.

Re:Let IT go nuclear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937485)

Apparently Oncor has started handing out $100 credit per server you virtualize here in Texas. I think that's a pretty good idea. It gives corporations an incentive to move to virtualized infrastructure as they come to a need for a hardware refresh.

Small incentive, but incentive nonetheless in addition to all the other benefits of virtualization.

Re:Let IT go nuclear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24937175)

Come on, this is so July/08!!! There is no such kind as an energy crisis, and this thing about wind, solar and nuclear power is just communist conspiracy!
Drill, baby, Drill!!! That is why we've chosen Sarah Palin for President!!!! Alaskan Oil babe is going to end this talk about crisis with just one straight shot!

Re:Let IT go nuclear (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937549)

well, that's obviously the most important change on the level of infrastructure. but i think what the infoworld article is talking about is how our day to day operations can be more energy-efficient.

if we want to survive as a species, we need to embrace conservation on a fundamental level. that doesn't just mean dropping our dependency on fossil fuels. the public needs to change its basic attitude towards energy-conservation--or just conservation in general. leaving it all to the energy companies to change fuel sources ignores actions that each of us can take in our daily lives to contribute to lower energy consumption.

likewise, IT departments can also implement cost-saving and energy-saving initiatives. perhaps instead of expending electricity on cooling needs, one can simply run more energy-efficient & low power-consumption hardware, which naturally produce less heat (this also has the side-effect of creating a quieter computing environment).

similarly, bigger/more powerful is not always better. outside of CPU-intensive applications (CAD, multimedia design, computational modeling, etc.) there's really no need for a super fast system that consumes tons of electricity. does your accounting department need the same quad-core workstation as your CAD/engineering department? i would venture to guess that 80% of the desktop computers in most companies don't need to run anything more CPU intensive than an Office Suite(word processor, spreadsheet, e-mail client, PowerPoint, etc.) and a standard web browser. as long as you're not trying to run Windows Vista and IE 8, most office computing needs can be met by lower clock speed, low power-consumption CPUs.

i don't know what processors on the market today are aimed at the low power-consumption market segment aside from mobile processors (perhaps an energy-efficient desktop market needs to be created), but that's probably another way to reduce energy usage, as is telecommuting, effective use of sleep/hibernation mode, and smart buildings. the same conservationist attitude one uses at home can also be employed in the office.

Most obvious thing any business could do (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936621)

Quite seriously - run some optical tube skylights (like this [lowes.com], they come in a wide variety of options) into your working areas. FAR too many companies are wasting energy powering internal lighting when the sun's out. You can always turn on the lights *if* you need them due to a storm.

As an added bonus, you'll start to eliminate health problems - daytime-constant lighting has been proven to mess with your internal cycles [wikipedia.org] and messes up peoples' sleeping patterns, a large part of why sleep disorders are so prevalent in developed countries.

Re:Most obvious thing any business could do (3, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936719)

Quite seriously - run some optical tube skylights (like this [lowes.com], they come in a wide variety of options) into your working areas. FAR too many companies are wasting energy powering internal lighting when the sun's out. You can always turn on the lights *if* you need them due to a storm.

As an added bonus, you'll start to eliminate health problems - daytime-constant lighting has been proven to mess with your internal cycles [wikipedia.org] and messes up peoples' sleeping patterns, a large part of why sleep disorders are so prevalent in developed countries.

New Belgium, imo the best brewing company in the Unites States, already has those. They also compost their waste and collect the methanol it produces, then burn it to provide 10% of their power needs. The rest of their power comes from wind (i.e. they pay extra for their electricity, at rates that make the local wind power profitable, and that money goes to building more wind generation). What else would expect from a company with a bicycle in its logo?

Re:Most obvious thing any business could do (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936793)

New Belgium, imo the best brewing company in the Unites States, already has those. They also compost their waste and collect the methanol it produces, then burn it to provide 10% of their power needs. The rest of their power comes from wind

I suppose there's room here for a joke about feeding the employees beer, beans, and bratwurst for lunch each day and then collecting the "wind" during the afternoon ;)

Seriously - good for them!

Depending on what business you're in, the number of things you can do to save energy varies - but just about ANY company ought to be able to set up some form of solar lighting solution, whether they're in an office building, small building, or warehouse setup.

Re:Most obvious thing any business could do (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937443)

New Belgium, imo the best brewing company in the Unites States

What about Rogue, Dogfish Head, or Red Hook? Lots of great beer in the US.

Re:Most obvious thing any business could do (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24936919)

As the son in law of the original founder of Solatube, I strongly suggest using the real thing www.solatube.com.

It makes a world of difference to get a quality product. We distribute in more than 50 countries and have many commercial installations. From factories to schools to shopping centers.

Re:Most obvious thing any business could do (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937151)

I live near Seattle,WA you insensitive clod! The clouds almost completely block the sun for 10 months out of the year.

More obvious: turn the PCs off at night (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937157)

Even when they're doing nothing, the PCs in an organisation pull 40+ watts. From 6pm to 8 the next morning is 70 useless hours a week. Add in weekends and over 100 hours you'll save 60% of the power used by your most common asset.

The only IT issue here, is how to roll out patches/updates - but any IT manager with a grain of talent can sort that out.

Re:More obvious: turn the PCs off at night (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937449)

The only IT issue here, is how to roll out patches/updates - but any IT manager with a grain of talent can sort that out.

You say that as if IT managers with a grain of talent are commonplace.

Re:Most obvious thing any business could do (1)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937523)

Yeah that's great, except for those of us who work in high population density areas where multi-story buildings are the norm.

Come again? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936655)

But instead of limiting IT's efficiency role to the datacenter, companies will tap IT's vast knowledge of company networks, equipment, and work processes to uncover efficiencies across the organization, in some cases tipping facilities management into IT.

So what do the people we work for do again? Accounting? Nah, Background checks? I think we make soap. Yeah, tell the guy in the survey we make soap.

I'm an IT Manager (3, Funny)

maynard (3337) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936663)

Those articles read like market-speak on toilet paper. At least if it had been printed on a roll, it might have been of use.

Re:I'm an IT Manager (2, Insightful)

MikeB0Lton (962403) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936771)

Articles like that are for upper management types who do not want to read technical details. It does seem that more and more roles are merging together, facilities management included. Look at asset management. The tools we use are starting to provide centralized asset management for not just IT, but finance and facilities too. Granted they don't require the monitoring and config management capabilities of an IT geared product, but then they don't have to have rights into those modules either. With building systems tying into the network it's a fact of life that IT will become more involved.

What's that smell? (2, Funny)

TheNecromancer (179644) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936691)

"There is a lot IT can do to fix its own 2 percent [of the company's carbon emissions] and make it more efficient"

What about IT's methane emissions? There are alot of pizza-eating, Diet Coke-drinking techies maintaining your servers. If that energy could be harnessed (instead of lighting them off through your jeans), a company's energy costs would be significantly decreased.

Re:What's that smell? (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937453)

Diet Coke-drinking techies maintaining your servers.

Well theres your problem. IT is supposed to drink Jolt, Mt. Dew, Red Bull, etc. Diet Coke is more of a receptionist kind of thing.

Lets not forget all of the rotting bullshit from marketing and the executive suites.

Green or Greenhouse? (2, Interesting)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936701)

Why is it that the same people wanting IT to be green are the same people that want IT to deliver 5 9's, as well as complete security for anything that could possibly violate the integrity of the personal information that they submit on an inter/intranet? The server and it's software either has to work, or else chaos will move in and take over - what happened to bitching at the hardware manufacturers for their shortfall? Why should hardware and software work less than the brave and pioneering IT's that we have all come to know and love? (and trust with our deepest secrets).

Telecommuting? (1)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936703)

Wouldn't telecommuting kill two birds with one stone? If your employees stay at home, they don't use up energy commuting to work, and you don't need as much energy to heat/cool your office space or keep it well lit.

Yeah, it doesn't solve everything, but it's a start.

Re:Telecommuting? (4, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936859)

Yes, fundamental changes in how IT is run will bring changes.

Telecommuting
Lighting changes (as mentioned)
Changing current infrastructure out for energy efficient stuff (also mentioned)
Improved cooling systems (mentioned)
Better power distribution - less point of load conversions
Unified cooling schemes throughout the data center as well as tweak and improve existing schemes. Underfloor cabling blocking forced air system balancing etc.
There are parts of the world where underground heat exchangers could reduce the over-all cost of standard A/C systems - but that means investment.
Compartmentalized data center "closets" - reduce power and cooling needs
Upgrade older equipment for newer, cheaper, more capable hardware

As can be seen, nearly all of this comes with investment costs up front. That will not happen without some form of incentive. Spend short term money to save money in the long run doesn't look good on a quarterly report. When Wall Street or Washington are on the bandwagon and supporting or giving incentives... then it will begin to happen. In the mean time, look for more data breaches, service losses, and general poor performance from companies who continue to squeeze IT budget and demand less expense from them.

I really don't see a problem here. (3, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936711)

The solution is obvious, simply outsource all the work and fire the IT employees. This will give you massive savings, make the few domestic employees more reliable, and give you super management powers that will make you invincible.

Re:I really don't see a problem here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24936987)

Mod: -1 [Bastard!]

Re:I really don't see a problem here. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937487)

The solution is obvious, simply outsource all the work and fire the IT employees.

We've already done this at my F-500 company. IT functions are all done, remotely, by an Indian contractor that gets paid based on how many trouble tickets they respond to.

The permanent energy crisis is like war in 1984 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24936717)

Used to keep the populace in line and fearful. We've always been at war with EastAsia.

If you want to see a real energy crisis (not the one that western environmentalists have manufactured as part of their plan to be able to tell everyone else how to live while feeling morally superior) visit someplace like Albania, where the power is on for limited periods during the day, even in Tirana, and randomly intermittent throughout the rest of the country. Or someplace in Africa, where electric lights are a far-off dream for most.

The "energy crisis" is FUD stirred up by the very people who won't allow us to build nuclear power plants, who shut down wind power sites because of danger to spotted owls, and who seem to believe that 6 billion people should return to an agrarian lifestyle characterized by hard physical labor, malnourishment, and a short lifespan. All while they, the appointed guardians of the new order, are the only ones allowed to drive their SUVs around "public" parks like Yosemite.

IT in a factory (2, Insightful)

fishybell (516991) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936727)

Well, until recently I ran the IT department for a manufacturer and I'd say bad, bad idea. The company is currently in the process of building a new facility with in a combined office/factory building. I must say, sure, the computers and computer cooling equipment might take upwards of 15% of the electricity of the new building, but cranes, welders, plasma tables, galvinization equipment, etc. that is required for us to build our product isn't just going to magically take less electricity just because we want it to. IT can take less electricity today due to increases in computing power, efficiency, etc. These have been demand driven because of the operating costs, but when you buy a welding machine you look at its functionality, not its electricity cost. Unless the cost of electricity climbs beyond $50,000 a month for a small shop such as ours you won't be seeing any demand for more efficient tools. Demand is what gave us more efficient IT equipment, and it will be the same for other equipment. When that happens the various departments such as welding, fabrication, etc. will still be designing their new work spaces, just with a mandate to purchase efficient equipment whenever possible. The IT department won't be planning many factories any time soon.

Telecommuting (5, Insightful)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936743)

Surely the largest energy gains would come from telecommuting.

I submit that the shift to telecommuting will look less like the current employee group working out of their home, and more like companies increasing relying on "outsourcing", and out-sorcerers increasingly consisting of people who work in low-marginal-energy environments - whether their own college dorm, some un-cooled sweatshop in Thailand.

It bears mentioning that working from home reduces the AC energy for life-work by 50% while reducing the transportation energy by 80%. It also reduced healthcare costs by reducing viral exposures.

Re:Telecommuting (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936887)

Thanks but no thank you. I'd like to speak to fellow human beings; you know, face to face.

Re:Telecommuting (1)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937061)

Thanks but no thank you. I'd like to speak to fellow human beings; you know, face to face.

I talk out of my ass most times. You still want to talk?

Re:Telecommuting (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937141)

Look up "Little big man" no human being would ever do that, so I wont talk to you.

Re:Telecommuting (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937211)

Thanks but no thank you. I'd like to speak to fellow human beings; you know, face to face.

Adapt or perish. 'face to face' is not a meaningful metric when it comes to the negative side of saving money or moving towards environmental responsibility.

Re:Telecommuting (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937383)

Thanks but no thank you. I'd like to speak to fellow human beings; you know, face to face.

It's overrated.

I like talking to my colleagues, but when held against all of the convenience and flexibility of working from home, not to mention the energy savings... I recently told a potential employer that they had to pay me $10K more per year if they wanted me to come into the office every day. I ultimately turned the job down for other reasons, but upon further reflection I decided that I should have said $20K.

Re:Telecommuting (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937177)

Brilliant, obvious and totally doable on a short time scale (like, by the Monday after next, everyone telecommunting 3-5 days a week). Unfortunately, the lazy layabout management needs to make sure that everyone is still looking busy and never takes a few minutes to think about effecientcy, or the next obvious step will be to eliminate management, increasing productivity and reducing spending in one brilliant, long-time coming layoff.

Re:Telecommuting - not necessarily (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937191)

If it means yo have to heat or cool your residence because you're there during the day (whereas if you were at work you wouldn't have to) the savings may not be as big as you thought.

Worse, your employer may not pay you for the extra power you use - most won't even consider it. Plus, you're effectively giving your employer a cube-sized chuck of your house for free, try asking them for rent and I could hear them laughing at you from here!

Re:Telecommuting - not necessarily (2, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937547)

Worse, your employer may not pay you for the extra power you use - most won't even consider it.

Stack the additional power you use up against the money you save in fuel and vehicle wear and I'll bet telecommuting comes out ahead for the vast majority of people. Not to mention the time you save.

Plus, you're effectively giving your employer a cube-sized chuck of your house for free, try asking them for rent and I could hear them laughing at you from here!

Most people can move 30 miles further from the office and get 50% more house for the same money.

Even if you don't move, I for one am more than happy to trade a little space in my house* for the flexibility that comes from working at home. I see my kids when they get home from school, and I can pop down to the school whenever there's a program or whatever.

* In the interest of full disclosure, I don't have to give up any space in my house. I like having a den/office, so I'd set that space apart anyway. This way I just use it more, and I've gotten my employer to spring for a better chair, a better phone, etc.

Automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24936757)

How about automating power-down or low-power mode? I could see that being useful in a data center. Perhaps 100% of the computers aren't needed all of the time. I'm assuming load balancing, redundancy, etc.

Also, what about combining the above with virtual machines that can move from server to server automatically or something.

Maybe it's already being done, I'm no data center/network/system admin.

IT reducing power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24936797)

Funny, the last company I was with, to reduce power they laid people off.

Not good (1)

Heather D (1279828) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936829)

There was a time when 'networking' was synonymous with schmoozing. :-)

The concept has merit, taking some of what's been learned in IT over the last three decades and folding it into the other departments could bring real gains. That said, giving IT control of those departments would be a serious mistake for all but a relative few enterprises.

Commuting counts too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24936853)

Companies should consider the TOTAL energy cost, including employee commuting. Allowing more progressive work environments, flex-hours, telecommuting, etc., can significantly reduce energy costs. Sitting in snarled rush-hour traffic produces huge amounts of CO2. Allowing flex-time and off-peak commuting, 3 and 4 day work weeks, etc., can significantly reduce energy waste.

Why IT shouldn't get into facilities management (5, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936869)

Re:Why IT shouldn't get into facilities management (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937069)

That park would have run perfectly had IT been properly paid. Rule #1 of IT always, ALWAYS more sure you are paying more then your competitors. IT is loyal to the paycheck, and loyalty to ones coin is loyalty none the less.

Urk... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 5 years ago | (#24936879)

But the big opportunity for IT is to take a leadership role in tackling that other 98 percent across the business...

That's not my yob...

Seriously, that's like suggesting the HR department take on increasing power efficiency. When you blow compartmentalization like that all sorts of nasty things happen. It's like letting the programmers work directly with the clients; you're guaranteed to go bankrupt in months.

On the other hand, I can just picture what happens next: A new department. "Say hi to the new carbon-compliance officer!" [facepalm]

This could work... (1)

Firemouth (1360899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937009)

... but the scope needs to be limited to IT resources. The only thing I think this would cover is setting policies for shutting off monitors and computers. Outside of that? I think this is a bad idea. We've done some research as to the extent we could save the company for our network of 200ish computers. We could save a few thousand a year, but those calculations were assuming everyone left their computers and monitors on. Which isn't always the case. So our actual savings would be even less. Even so, it's a realtively simple change for anyone for any network with centralized management which supports setting those policies. Also, how many people will you piss off if your policies aren't in line with their usages? Will their laptop suddenly hibernate in the middle of a presentation because its been idle for more than 30 minutes? Do you let users customize these policies so they can just disable it if they want to? I think the policies would have to be set relatively loose, which would further diminish your actual savings...

More choice? (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937029)

Is this saying businesses should let the IT people choose what kind of equipment gets put in other departments, or perhaps that we get to streamline inefficient processes?

It basically sounds like they want to turn IT into pseudo-management, which may not be such a terrible idea, given the logical nature of IT. That essentially boils down to: they want people who can think logically and have lots of knowledge to plan the way things are done. Shocking concept.

Ok, this may be completely crazy but.... (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937081)

How much stuff do you have on your desk that actually runs at 120Hz AC? If you switched to a local DC source (say solar, backed up by batteries or something) you wouldn't have to convert to and from 120. Straight 12 volts DC down from the roof to the data center. That step alone seems to me like it would cut out at least two conversions which at best would be ~ 85 or 90% efficient. I don't design power supplies for servers but it seems that all of the components run on 12V, 5V or 3.3V so there is no reason to waste energy heating up a power supply right there in a server so that you have to use more power to cool it.

Tesla, Insight and the color of Google homepage (1)

harrie_o (1350423) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937131)

The PBS piece with Click and Clack months ago and Tesla brought to light the major role IT folks had in that startup electric car.

Seems that all the magic is in the software that makes the batteries motor and charger do its best.

I think next year's Honda fuel cell Insight is a better idea (brew and tank your own HYDROGEN and OXYGEN from water + electricity when plugged in, then run all day with a "gas gauge" and no heavy batteries.

If Google would change its homepage to black it would save an incredible amount of energy on all those monitors displaying that ubiquitous screen.

Re:Tesla, Insight and the color of Google homepage (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937253)

Google's homepage to black? Like this [blackle.com]? Though I have to wonder if they can really claim all that much in savings - for LCD's is there really a significant power savings for black pixels vs. white? Does anyone know what the difference is?

Smaller computers (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937207)

It seems a lot of new small computers are coming out these days, some of them even are Atom-based.

You may need a 500W Core 2 Quad + SLI videocards for your home gaming, but I'd say 99% of corporate computer users will be fine with an Atom, 1GB RAM and integrated intel GPU.

These things have 60-80W power supplies, and that's their maximum load. I'm sure they use far less than that under normal operation.

GEEK POWER! (1)

st33med (1318589) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937227)

Finally, people are listening to us when we tell them their computers suck watts. G33| P0\/\/3R 4CT1\/473!!!!

Seriously? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937239)

Is everyone buying into mumbo-jumbo and super-hype still? Yes I'm that cynical.

I suppose if you need to have feel good projects, tell them to go plant a forest and sell it later for profit, then plant a new one. On top of that they can sell carbon credits for money. It becomes a company project that way! Or invest in a wind/solar farm. As well as the usual common sense stuff, if you're in a semi-large building see what you can do to push geo-thermal retrofits at the next upgrade for heating/cooling.

Cars/trucks/etc, not much a do. Skirting for fleet trucks however will reduce drag, and increase fuel efficiency. Cars, if it's a short trip 2km walk/ride a bike unless it's important/heavy to carry. Or unless the car has 2 or more passengers.

Conspiracy Theory (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937339)

It all makes sense now...bear with me...

Linus Torvalds gets bitten by a penguin...

Creates an operating system and adopting said penguin as a logo...

Insures that said operating system is openly available to anyone who wants it...

The ability to create a free server from one's house increases...

The number of living penguins as a result of melting polar ice decreases...

Put it in India where no one cares (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#24937425)

Put all your datacenters in India, China, Malaysia and Africa where no one cares how much they pollute.

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