Speaking of storage, it's worth mentioning that those 1,000 desktops -- even if you get them with the smallest hard drive available (160GB) -- will provide our imaginary enterprise with more than 145TB of almost completely useless and difficult-to-manage storage. In fact, if you forget the rest of the desktop and just look at the hard drive, our enterprise is spending nearly $10,000 just to power and cool hard drives. That's almost half of what it would cost to power a fleet of 1,000 thin clients.
Of course, you can't just shut off all your desktops, as tempting as that may be -- you need to replace them with something. Let's say our enterprise shifts from thick desktops to thin clients. That step alone will shrink the three-year desktop power/cooling budget from about $123,000 to around $20,000. If we're connecting to a blade-based Citrix or VDI infrastructure, the server resources required to provide the compute environment those thin clients will connect to will cost around $15,000 to power and cool over three years.
In total, we will have saved a net of $88,000 -- just in power costs. That's not taking into account the longer useful lifetime of the thin clients, substantially decreased management costs, or any of the other benefits of SBC.
Even if SBC isn't viable in your environment, you can at least enable the advanced power management features on the desktops you do have. Many IT departments will disable these settings to avoid complaints from users or to make it easier to use remote desktop management tools. However, these settings can have a huge impact on the power consumption of standard desktops -- often more than halving it. It's not as good as a thin client, but it's better than nothing.
If that's all so awesome, why don't more enterprise IT departments think this way? The biggest and saddest reason is that savings from desktop power consumption are very, very rarely considered a benefit to IT.
You'll often see lots of IT effort expended to make the data center efficient, but that's because the infrastructure to support those areas (UPS, air conditioning, and so on) often comes out of IT's bottom line. Power for the wall jack next to the receptionist's desk doesn't.
As you start to put together your next budget, do the math for your organization and give this some hard thought. It's not a given that SBC will be appropriate for your users or that management will recognize and credit IT with the power savings you can provide. If you can overcome those challenges, you'll be able to spend that money on things that you actually need rather than watching it go down the drain and hurt the environment at the same time.
This article, "To slash energy costs, get rid of PCs," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Matt Prigge's Information Overload blog and follow the latest developments in data storage and information management at InfoWorld.com.