back to article Power monitoring across the desktop estate

Despite the pressure on organisations to operate to more “green” agendas, the reality is that for many the reasons they actually fund anything are related to a desire to save electricity or to meet external requirements, usually legislative. So far the majority of “green” projects have usually been focussed on reducing …


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  1. Owen Williams


    I bought 3 ZigBee Ploggs and an ethernet gateway so we could plot the energy usage of servers in a rack. Unfortunately the Ploggs are about £100 each as is the ethernet gateway. The Windows SDK to talk to the gateway is in the region of £250. So it's not very cheap at the moment to even have a poke at the issue.

    I you buy the binary protocol version of the Ploggs and don't want to use Windows I released some scrappy code on sourceforge called plogger that will interpret some of the protocol.

    Web of Things are a group who have looked at Ploggs connected to desktop PCs.

    I'm also looking at intelligent PDUs but that's not desktop related...

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Dream on

    Desktops are out of IT budget, power is out facilities budget. So in 99% of the shops out there it ends up with "who cares". So unless power for desktop is taken out of the IT budget we are not going to see any efficiencies in this area any time soon.

    1. Simon Neill

      or never...

      since that would require desktops to be on their own meter.

      We had a big problem trying to visualise desktops here. Long term the savings are obvious - no need to replace as often, lower overall power consumption but the fact that a room full of PCs would have come to £12k and the initial setup for virtual was £15k meant it didn't happen.

  3. PurpleMoneky

    Going Green

    We are currenlty investing in the Verdiem Surveyor product to reduce our desktop power utilisation. (We have already virtualised a large portion of our server estate). The problem we had was that the power is paid for by Building Services, but the software is paid for by IT with no benefit to IT for using the software. We have now got them on board and will start to see pretty significant savings.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not in government there isn't.

    In an environment where people think that switching off the monitor at the "soft power" switch actually does anything to lower the power consumption of said monitors ... there is no chance.

    There is a device that cuts power to peripherals when the PC goes to sleep, but those cost money ... and even in the face of evidence to all this, there is one local government (that I'm sitting in) whos green champions seem to be anything other than green ... or at least only take the evidence that they like.

  5. z0mb13e

    Part of the PSU?

    Perhaps the standard PC PSU should be able to monitor the power consumption as part of some 'green' standard.

    If that data can be logged in the PSU to be sent to a bit of monitoring software running on the PC (when the PC is running) that can in turn provide SNMP data then monitoring desktop power consumption becomes part and parcel of normal monitoring...

  6. Mark Blackburn (1E)

    The proof of the pudding....

    It is entirely possible to not only measure the energy consumption of hundreds of thousands of desktop and laptop computers through a single server, but also to control the power management of them to minimise energy wastage without affecting the end user or impacting IT’s ability to patch them out of hours.

    1E’s NightWatchman product is doing exactly this for over 1,100 organizations both large and small, and is now in use on over 4 million PCs worldwide.

    For example Ford recently implemented NightWatchman and are expecting to make savings of $1.2 million per year as a result.

  7. InITForTheMoney

    Network Components too...

    Another aspect often overlooked is the power consumed by network components, which normally stay powered all of the time. Extreme Networks actually have a pretty cool setup by which they power off ports that aren't in use, they also have great power control if you happen to use their devices for Power Over Ethernet, if you have a POE compliant device then the switch can give it exactly the right amount of power, so thin client devices and phones aren't consuming too much.

    The switches are also able to take script events, so for example devices could be powered on for a software update or powered off at a certain time of day, or a phone and a PC can be linked so that when the PC is switched on the phone powers up, or so that when a user swipes in to the office door their ethernet ports are activated and the phone powers up.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Go to sleep

    We rolled out Nighwatchman to a few hundred PCs in a pilot. It worked pretty well. Over 20,000 workstations it would have been a very feelable saving. But a jumpy exec missed a meeting because time sync was too slow on reanimation, and the pilot was rolled back.

    1. Mark Blackburn (1E)

      OS/Hardware issue

      The lack of time sync on wakeup from standby is an issue on a few hardware and OS combinations - the Win32Time service was tardy at getting time back in sync, so the next release of NightWatchman will address this by forcing a time sync as soon as the machine wakes up.

  9. Angus Russell

    A Solution

    I noticed that you didn't mention Event Zero's 'Greentrac' as a PC power management solution, perhaps you've never heard of it.

    Greentrac goes above and beyond 1E's nightwatchmen and all the other PC power saving software available. While those other programs basically just shut down the computers at night, Greentrac's focus is on saving power during the day (though it also has shutdown capabilities).

    Greentrac installs across an enterprise's network (no size limits) and tracks each individual user's power wastage (something you mentioned you were having trouble doing). It provides a user interface that users log in to and can see how much power they waste during the day by leaving their computer idle. The users can see how they're doing in relation to other employees, and are given a score on how much energy they waste.

    The idea behind Greentrac is that users have the power to save far more energy than automated software – they know when they’re going out to lunch, they know when they’ll be away for a meeting etc. Greentrac simply gives users the motivation to want to save power. The user interface provides tips on saving power, and encourages users to either turn their computer off or put it to sleep whenever they’re not using it.

    Even if you're already using automatic PC shutdown software like Nightwatchman etc, reducing power wastage during the day by 80% on 10,000 PCs (which Greentrac makes possible) can save you a further $200 000 on your electricity bill and cut CO2 emissions by 1.4 million kilograms annually.

    The Greentrac software has a huge number of other features as well, it really is the best power saving software available to date, there's plenty of more information on the Greentrac website (

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    How does Green trac manage the quite common need to perform patching / software distribution / anti virus etc after hours? Is it possible for it to wakeup remote PCs?

    Does it use magic packets? I heard that there is an issue of security exposure over

    subnets boundaries


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