Hardware makes a play

Vendors offer products designed to generate energy savings, reduce carbon

Get on the bus

More than 900 people squeezed into conference
facilities in Williamsburg, Va., for the Executive
Leadership Conference in October. About 15 of
them had traveled from the Washington area to
Williamsburg on a chartered bus provided by the
Telework Exchange.

Just 15 people out of nearly 1,000 might not
seem like much, but it was the first year for the program,
and Cindy Auten, the organization's general
manager, said she was pleased. Still, she added,
"we definitely want some full buses" in the future.

Telework is a green initiative that agencies are
slowly warming to. Such programs allow some
employees to work from home occasionally, often
as little as one day every week or two. But on those
days, they save gas, cut emissions and clear some
of the congestion from the roads.

However, getting agencies to participate in the
programs is a challenge, Auten said. Managers are
concerned about security and worker productivity,
and they are resistant to changing their management
styles.

"We try to break down the misperceptions, but
management resistance is still by far the biggest
barrier," she said.

The Office of Personnel Management has said
that 70 percent of the federal workforce could be
eligible for telework, but only 6 percent actually
work remotely one day a week or more under an
established program.

However, technology is making telework more
viable for employees and managers. Broadband
Internet speeds, new security measures and
improved videoconferencing technologies are easing
managers' fears.

Videoconferencing systems allow managers to
see employees who are working remotely, which
might eliminate concerns that workers are taking
advantage of the distance to slack off.

"Our technology allows for people to telework,
and it won't be an out-of-sight, out-of-mind scenario,"
said Rick Snyder, president of Tandberg
Americas. "People are visually connected. As a
result, our technology becomes an enabler allowing
for telework and high engagement."

? Michael Hardy

Computers of all sizes ? whether
servers sitting in data center racks
or desktop computers for office
workers ? drain power and generate
heat. And when their useful life is
over, they often take up landfill space.

Manufacturers are trying new technologies
and techniques to make them more
efficient and longer-lasting. Replacing
familiar rackmount servers with blade
servers is one common approach. Blade
servers are bare-bones computers, just a
few vital components on a circuit board. A
blade enclosure provides a single power
supply and cooling system for a collection
of blades.

IBM Corp.'s BladeCenter integrates
servers, storage, networking and applications
into one system. The system reduces
the need for server farms and requires
fewer employees to manage them, said Tim
Dougherty, BladeCenter planning and
strategy manager at IBM.

"IBM BladeCenter is much more integrated
and energy efficient than traditional
rack-based systems," Dougherty said.
BladeCenter uses 30 percent less power
than rack-based systems, he said.
IBM isn't alone in pushing blade servers.
Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun
Microsystems Inc. each have their own
products.

Government agencies considering using
blades should have a good idea of where
and how they will use the systems. Systems
can be specifically designed for high-performance
data centers or ruggedized
deployment.

Systems integrators should consider
what the application requirements will be
before selecting a specific kind of blade. A
variety of processor technology server
choices are available in IBM blades including
Intel, Advance Micro Devices, IBM
Power and IBM Cell BE-based. Sun Blade
systems also support several architectures:
Sun UltraSPARC, AMD Opteron and Intel
Xeon, Solaris 10 OS, Linux, Windows and
VMware in a single common chassis.

There is also a selection of input/output
methods including Ethernet, Fibre
Channel, Internet SCSI, InfiniBand and
SAS fabrics.

"This allows systems integrators to work
with the [input/output] they are already
comfortable with and best fits the deployment
environment," Dougherty said.

Storage is another key area where environmental
impact can be reduced. The
general rule of thumb is that organizations
use about 20 percent of their storage on a
regular basis.

Using environmentally smart storage for
the remaining 80 percent of the data helps
dramatically reduce a customer's costs,
said Bill Vass, president at Sun
Microsystems Federal Inc.

Robotic tape storage can also cut energy
costs. Unlike disk architecture, where the
storage device and media are one unit, the
media is separate from the device in tape
systems.

"This means that data that is written to a
tape cartridge that is stored within a robotic
library is consuming zero amount of
electricity," Vass said. "While the library
itself is consuming electricity, it is extremely
minimal when compared to disk storage
systems."

Curb power consumption

Reducing how often an organization
replaces desktop PCs is another green
strategy. And when PCs need to be
replaced, using thin clients instead of desktops
has big environmental benefits.
Pano Logic, of Menlo Park, Calif., produces
a virtualized desktop computing
architecture that uses server-based virtualization
and relies on no software ? operating
system, firmware or applications software
? on the desktop.

Each Pano installation consists of a Pano
device on the desktop with Pano management
software and existing virtualization
technology, such as VMware ESX, installed
on a central server.

"By moving all desktop software to the
server, the Pano solution delivers a number
of benefits, including a dramatic reduction
in power consumption, a reduction in IT
complexity and cost, a superior Windows
desktop experience and the elimination of
the PC as a security risk," said Benjamin
Baer, vice president of marketing at Pano
Logic.

The diminutive Pano device is designed
to have a useful life double that of a traditional
PC.

"Pano devices not only become
obsolete at a much slower rate, they are
also produced using a fraction of the
materials needed to produce a traditional
PC, Baer said. "The Pano is only 3.5
inches by 3.5 inches by 2 inches ? compared
to a traditional PC tower, which
could be made of well more than 20
times the amount of plastic and other
materials."

Sun Microsystems' thin client, the Sun
Ray Thin Client, is another example. The
Sun Ray looks and acts like a desktop. It
has a 12-year life cycle in the enterprises
versus two to three years for a PC.

The system also enables hoteling, a
trend in which mobile workers who visit
offices sporadically share offices or cubicles.
Using this approach, organizations
can substantially reduce requirements for
office space.

"Any place you go and put in your smart
card, your whole environment follows
you," Vass said. "And it only uses 4 watts
vs. 120-220 watts for a PC."

Compact hardware other than desktops
also has environmental benefits.
The HP LaserJet P1006 is the
company's smallest and most compact
laser printing system for the small office.

The printer has a new spherical toner in
a smaller toner cartridge and uses less
energy. And with HP Instant-on
Technology, a fuser technology, users can
print a first page in less than 8.5 seconds
from Powersave mode, saving as much as
50 percent in power consumption.

"The ultra-compact HP LaserJet
P1006 ships with less packaging than
previous products and is engineered to
use less energy over an extended period
of time," said Dave Lobato, environmental
program manager at HP LaserJet
Business. "This product is Energy Starqualified
and can also handle recycled
paper."

Infrastructure evaluation

Before launching into an energy saving
project, Vass recommends systems integrators
carefully evaluate current IT
infrastructures.

Eco-friendly isabout saving and using
assets more effectively, Vass said.

"In the near future, the CIOs will 'own'
the power budget for the IT they deploy
at the desktop and the data center," he
said. "It has to happen to drive savings
for the CFO because power is becoming
such a large part of the budget. And computer
labs, desktops, and data centers are
the biggest consumers of power per
square foot of any space in the federal
buildings."

Staff writer Doug Beizer can be reached at
dbeizer@110govinfo.com.

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