Sometimes, identifying an underutilized appliance is downright simple. That refrigerator in the garage, for example, whose sole contents is a six-pack of Billy Beer is an obvious candidate for unplugging; it's wasting electricity while providing no useful service.
Were it only that easy for a large organization to pinpoint the IT gear burning up watts while performing little to no work -- or even older machines that are working to the best of their ability but at a pitiful performance-per-watt rate.
Now, there are some approaches one might take to locate underused or unused IT gear. Green 15 winner GlaxoSmithKline, for example, recruited a large group of volunteers among its employees to successfully identify some six tons of IT equipment that could be reassigned or unplugged and recycled, thus saving the organization some $21,000 per year on electricity bills.
But a software company called BDNA offers an arguably more comprehensive and less labor-intensive approach to locating gear that doesn't hit the green mark: an agentless suite of applications that locate every piece of IT equipment on your network (PCs, servers, networking equipment, and so on) and tells you what software is running on each machine. With the recently released version 6.0, it also maps out interdependencies between IT assets -- for example, which server apps are drawing from which databases. Moreover, BDNA surveys a vast catalog of specs for various manufacturers' machines and software, providing such information as power consumption and heat production.
Automatic for the people
This sort of data can be an invaluable starting point for a sustainable IT initiative, a lesson learned by the CIO's office of the state of California. In just 40 work-hours, the state used the BDNA suite to collect information about 50,000 hardware devices and more than 2 million software licenses across three major departments: the Department of Corrections, the Employment Development Department, and the Department of Industrial Relations. The state then commissioned a report from Intel [PDF] titled "Optimizing the PC Segment of California's IT Infrastructure" that partially drew on that data to outline how the state could reduce power costs over four years by $44 million and associated carbon dioxide emissions by more than 205,000 tons.