IT departments might be finding themselves in an unenviable position: On the one hand, they're saddled with a directive from on high to make operations greener, whether for the sake of saving money or cutting carbon emissions or both. On the other hand, said IT departments aren't receiving extra funding to launch any green-tech projects. What's an IT admin to do? Sure, you could unplug all the servers and require end-users to double up on PCs, schemes that would result in a healthy reduction in energy consumption for your organization -- followed swiftly by a decidedly unhealthy reduction in employment opportunities for yourself.
Better yet, you may find that you can secure partial or even full funding for energy-saving technology projects from an unexpected source: your friendly neighborhood utility. An ever-increasing number of energy providers across the country, from Hawaii to New York, have rolled out incentive programs for organizations to deploy various green-technology products, from PC power management to server virtualization and beyond. These programs are certainly enticing; it's effectively free money, after all. But any organization that's considering taking advantage of such a program would be well served to carefully read the fine print to ensure that they receive their rebate, sans any nasty surprises.
Pinching PC power pennies
Among the most common technologies for which you can secure rebate dollars is PC-power management (PPM), which remains one of the lowest-hanging fruits in the green IT orchard. Adoption is on the rise; a newly released survey of IT professionals conducted by Forrester found that more than 90 percent of companies are implementing or considering the technology.
PC-power management technology is designed to automatically power down computers and monitors when they're not in use (such as after hours and on weekends). Computers can be automatically roused, say, 10 minutes before end-users are scheduled to arrive at the office. Some PPM offerings can also wake up machines for routine patches and backups, then power the systems back down again. Vendors in the PC power-management space include Faronics, Verdiem, BigFix, 1E, and KACE.