Israeli bank cuts PC power costs by US$39,000

Remotely powering down XP PCs using a desktop-management package means less wasted energy, the bank claims.

A bank has estimated it will save around £20,000 (US$39,000) a year in energy costs by using new power-management software to automatically shut down its desktop PCs when they are not in use.

Israel-based Bank Leumi has been trialling software from desktop-management specialist Modus Interactive at its U.K. headquarters in London since the beginning of last year.

Modus Interactive's Powerwise desktop-management software was officially launched last week. It allows individual PCs or groups of machines to be turned on and shut down remotely at different times of the day. The company claims that the software costs around £6 (US$11.80) per PC and can save up to £40 (US$78.70) per machine, per year.

Bank Leumi's U.K. headquarters already used Modus's Universal Management Service to centrally update the operating system and applications of its Windows XP-based PCs, but was also keen to control power consumption through more efficient session management.

"The initial driver was the discovery that some backups were failing as people were going home and leaving their PCs switched on and some of their applications open, so updates sometimes weren't going as cleanly as they should have. But management also wanted us to power off the machine each night to reduce costs and electricity usage," said Stephen Lang, IT and support manager at the bank.

The Powerwise software was deployed on a central server and configured to switch every PC off at 7pm each evening. The machines are subsequently turned back on at various times during the night to undertake activities such as antivirus scanning and defragmentation of hard disks, before being switched on again at 6.30am each morning. If individual staff members fail to work on their computer before 10am, however, it is assumed that they are absent and the machine is again turned off.

Bank Leumi estimates that deploying the new software will save the company more than £40 (US$78.70) per PC, per year and, as it has about 500 machines in place, this equates to a total of about £20,000 (US$39,000) per annum. But the bank is also seeing unexpected spin-off benefits in terms of energy savings and reduced calls to the helpdesk because machines no longer periodically need rebooting.

"When the machines were on all of the time, they generated huge heat all night, so, when the air conditioning came on at 6am, it had to fight to bring the temperature of the rooms back down. But, if the machines don't come on until 6.30am, the savings there will be significant too," Lang explained.

Microsoft is keen to push the improved power-management functionality in Windows Vista, despite the fact that the new operating system is more processor hungry than its predecessor, Windows XP. In March 2007, Microsoft commissioned a study that claimed using Vista could reduce carbon dioxide generated by a 200-desktop organization by 45 tonnes a year.

But a survey in December 2006 by U.S. IT services company Softchoice claimed that Vista will be the most power-hungry Windows desktop so far. The report claimed that at Windows XP's launch, for example, the minimum CPU requirements were 75 percent greater than those for the operating system it replaced, Windows 2000. Vista's minimum CPU requirements are 243 percent greater than those of XP.

Bank Leumi's IT department is also looking at other ways to become more environmentally friendly, in order to conform with the bank's social-responsibility goals. Over the next year or so, it intends to replace existing equipment, dealing with tasks such as scanning, printing and photocopying, with multi-function peripherals, again in order to reduce energy consumption.

Bank Leumi also aims to introduce new and update existing document systems in order to store and distribute a wider range of reports electronically. Likewise, it plans to consolidate and virtualize its test servers using EMC's VMware software, the goal being to create more space in its data center and further cut heating and cooling bills.

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