With organisations of all sizes looking to enhance the perception of themselves as socially responsible, reduced power consumption is an important target.
Add to that the fact that fuel prices are escalating, and green awareness gets more important. Yet environmentally friendly measures can undermine productivity.
For many UK SMEs, green IT appears to be a bandwagon too far, an opportunity for corporate tub-thumping, more about public perception than profit margins.
While most firms would agree that policies that improve the efficiency of computing to reduce environmental impact make PR sense, few SMEs have the resources to make such changes.
Organisations also cannot simply create robust green initiatives that rely on users to implement them. Can users be trusted to turn off their machines every night or support power-down policies on laptops?
The US Environmental Protection Agency has claimed that 90 per cent of desktops have power management disabled. Nor will users support policies to extend the lifespan of desktop equipment when faced with poor performance. Instead, they tend to demand new kit,further undermining sustainability plans.
Changes that can be made to the IT infrastructure will also deliver substantial efficiency and performance improvements.
SMEs can attain the same levels of IT efficiency and effectiveness as their
corporate competitors. One opportunity is for IT service providers to deliver an
SME-tailored managed service that drives down cost and meets green objectives,
based on automation and remote
Continuous monitoring and system administration also means the service provider can ensure that hard drives are regularly defragmented, systems remain spyware free and any glitches in network performance are highlighted and addressed.
Behind the scenes
Remote automation can also attend to key back-up procedures that need to be carried out overnight. No SME can justify the presence of on-site resource to turn PCs on for short periods each night to conduct routine administration. The cost is unsustainable.
Some hardware developments, such as Intel’s vPro technology, let managed service providers turn machines on and off remotely as required. This enables tasks to be carried out off-peak with minimum power requirements.
Some software developments help firms impose power consumption processes on each desktop machine. Should a user try to circumvent the process, the change will be picked up by the remote monitoring solution and automatically switched back.
Systems should perform better as well as greener. For the SME, the result is fewer user demands for new kit and longer-life hardware, enabling the company not only to meet its environmental objectives, but to also cut the costs associated with technological refresh.
Key to delivering green IT is a switch from the traditional break/fix model which requires power-hungry trips to a customer’s physical location to a continuous monitoring, remote management approach.
Not only can remote technology fix many IT problems, but the continuous system monitoring also supports proactive management. Fewer problems mean that customer systems are more available.
Once a continuous monitoring process is in place, a managed service provider is positioned to effectively deliver a raft of environmentally focused IT services.
These range from remote power-up and power-down for reducing overnight energy consumption to ensuring user performance that extends the lifetime of equipment.
Embracing a remote model of service provision with high levels of automation allows managed service providers to begin tracking customer energy consumption and instigate proactive discussions about green initiatives that can drive down energy costs.
Adding and automating energy-saving strategies to their service delivery helps managed service providers offer SMEs cost-effective access to the same level of IT support enjoyed by their larger competitors.
In a climate where increasing numbers of environmental restrictions are being placed on businesses of all sizes, managed services provided remotely may provide part of the answer.
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