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Simple steps help Windows shops go green

Windows managers will be the front line to a more eco-friendly and energy-efficient IT environment. Just a few tweaks can help you go green.

Creating a more energy-efficient Windows environment may not be on the top of every IT manager's list, but it most likely will become a company-wide directive in the next few years.

CIO mandates for more eco-friendly and energy-efficient IT surroundings are already being adopted, and legislation and cost pressures, in part, are driving these corporate edicts.

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Part of the guesswork of going green may be taken out of the equation for IT managers by product makers themselves who will have little choice but to develop products that save energy, according to a study this month by The 451 Group, a technology consulting firm based in New York.

More enterprises will begin to buy power management tools that will be integrated with systems management and workload management tools, said Andy Lawrence, research director of The 451 Group's Eco-Efficient IT practice. Expect more functions to become centralized as well, since energy efficiency "strongly favors" a consolidated server and shared services model, he said.

"Administrators will have to learn the vocabulary and physics of energy use, and they will be tasked to use new systems and tools to maintain energy efficiency," he said. "Increasingly, service agreements will have a power dimension and, in some cases, users may be denied access to services that are too costly in terms of energy."

Get started with an energy audit

The first step any IT shop can take as they begin to go green is to take inventory of its energy use and practices and calculate what financial and CO2 savings are possible, Lawrence said.

"These [audits] need not necessarily be a complicated initiative -- a small internal team can establish the basic facts," he said.

There are more hands-on, simple daily measures Windows administrators can take, such as turning off PCs and servers that aren't being used, monitoring server utilization and, if possible, moving or consolidating workloads to turn off some servers and making sure that server and desktop settings are at the most power-efficient levels as possible, he said.

Such efforts may produce the most immediate gains, but educating IT staff and end users in energy-efficient practices, such as making sure systems switch off to standby, encouraging less printing and showing users data on the amount of time they are logged on, are critical for an energy-efficiency initiative to take off, Lawrence said.

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