Savings from power managing your desktop may be bigger than you realize

When it comes to power management software options, you pretty much have two courses you can take: You can opt for one of the standalone packages being touted by the likes of Verdium or 1E, or you can handle this sort of management through a broader patch management or systems management suite, like what's offered by BigFix or even LANDesk.

When it comes to power management software options, you pretty much have two courses you can take: You can opt for one of the standalone packages being touted by the likes of Verdium or 1E, or you can handle this sort of management through a broader patch management or systems management suite, like what's offered by BigFix or even LANDesk.

There are supporters in both camps of course, but this story is about the latter sort of power management player -- where you can combine power management with other management functions.

The latest company to come to my notice is 7-year-old  Persystent Software, which sells a product called Persystent Suite that is actually a PC recovery product and configuration manager that now happens to have PC shutdown features. This feature can be managed by the customer directly, so that your team can pick which groups or individual desktops should be shut down after work hours. Persystent's competition would be the likes of LANDesk, Altiris and Microsoft Systems Management, although you could imagine scenarios in which the technologies would be used together.

Persystent CEO Joe Loughry says his company's software has built a particular following in the higher education market; universities, which have plenty of public access computer equipment, can keep tighter control on the configurations. Now, they can also manage the power usage when the labs are closed for the evening.

Loughry says it's virtually necessary for some organizations to address a non-voluntary sort of power management policy because research has show that only about 40 percent of a company's employees will usually comply with a voluntary policy.

Just how much money you can save in an average year in electricity consumption costs is a matter for debate, however. While many power management companies cite potential savings of $30 to $40 per desktop or notebook, Persystent CFO Dave Ascani suggests that the amount is closer to $100. Of course, that depends on average utility rates for the region being considered. That's why Persystent's energy savings calculator, which you can access here, takes local electricity costs into account. Persystent also makes sure that weekend savings are considered, as well. Here's its calculator.

Here's a graphic that shows some of its sample numbers:

Persystent is currently available for Windows XP, but a version for Windows 7 is getting its finishing touches, according to the executives. The company is studying Linux support; it also is considering versions of its software that could be applied to servers.

Considering the focus of this post, I would be remiss if I didn't mention one other systems management player with some recent news, Numara Software. The company recently released eight new software modules focused on some aspect of IT asset management, including Numara Power Manager. Numara estimates that most computing devices are idle at least 20 percent of the time, and it focuses on helping recapture this wasted electricity. The application provides features for custom or corporate-wide management, and it includes reporting features so that IT managers can get a better handle on what's potentially being wasted -- and where.