[GreenIT] SMS Companion v3 – Advanced Scheduling and Power Management

I always visit SMS SCCM Expert in my rotation of must-check-for-update websites. They really develop some excellent addons and enhancements for my favorite systems management platform. One of their products that I had not really heard too much about struck me today.

Let me back up: I’ve been wondering more and more about what part I can play in the overall “greening” of IT. We all know that the bottom line is king in Information Technology, but it’s becoming more clear that as we understand more about how our businesses work, that doing the right thing for the business may just be doing the Right Thing in general.

Take power consumption. I wish I could remember where I read this – perhaps it was Gartner, perhaps it was on one of the millions of PowerPoint slides I’ve seen this past year, but something like 1-2% or more of the power consumed by the United States is consumed by data centers. That seems high, and even moreso, it seems expensive. I think it was HP that reported this. Another number says that data centers in the US use the equivalent energy as would be required by 5 million houses. In any case, regardless of where the statistics come from, it’s not hard to believe that power consumption by data centers is significant. Googlecheck me, please! I’d love to get this accurate.

Server consolidation initiatives and the commoditization of Hypervisors have made it possible to reduce the number of devices plugged into the wall, and that’s just ducky, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve got to do some more reading on if there are statistics naming the percentage of power consumption that desktop devices. I don’t know this for a fact (yet,) but my intuition tells me that it’s got to be more than that used by data centers.

We leave desktop devices on for ease of management: we’ve invested thousands into systems management and ESD systems so that we can save money by centralizing the management and distribution of software and patches, but most of these systems (and this is changing!) require those machines to be on.

Technologies such as Wake-on-LAN and out-of-band management are making it more viable to implement a more energy-conscious stance with respect to the management of PC devices. It’s more possible today to power down machines and still maintain them. Most software and hardware companies concerned with device management are working towards a nirvana where offline maintenance can be performed. Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Manager will even service offline VMs, causing my mind to repeat a new phrase: “green consolidation.”

It’s my opinion that over the next 2-5 years, IT leadership will begin to consider strategies where managing and ultimately reducing power consumption will become as important as “virtualization” is today. Even moreso if the carbon trading markets open.

OK, all this is to say that SCCM Expert has created an, ahem, companion product for SCCM that “controls the scheduling of SMS actions to occur outside of regular work hours regardless of the power state of the machine.” SCCM Expert advertises their “Wake-on Schedule” capability, which lends WOL-like capabilities for computers that do not already support it.

Lots of these features are finding their way into SCCM on their own, but this product seems like a great, ahem, companion to SCCM as a foundation for a power-saving desktop strategy.

For my own part, I plan to start including more power considerations into my Desktop Optimization story, and the attendant ROI calculations we generate over the course of IO projects. Here’s to making the World and the world of IT a better place!

SCCM Expert Software Solutions – Self Service and Companion for SMS / ConfigMgr

Leaving your desktops on 24/7 to patch and distribute software? SMS Companion can save a company with 4500 computers over $80,000.00 – $100,000 a year in energy costs.

It’s the real deal. SCCM Expert and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) think Companion can help save you money and conserve energy.

2 Comments

  1. Jonathan Connery

    Don’t forget the Out-of-Band Management features already embedded within SP1 for Configuration Manager (which you probably already blogged on knowing you, the documentation factory – said with love and slight jealousy)

    This can not only schedule power downs after work hours and temporary power-ups so SCCM advertisements can install, but also allows a vastly improved inventory and the remote modification of BIOS settings, ability to remotely restart a frozen computer, and even remotely PXE booting the system to reimage. I know, that’s long overdue, huh?

    What’s the catch? The motherboards must contain Intel’s AMTv3.2+., VPro, or the Centrino VPro chip. I think the AMT is for Active Management Technology. It’s available on every new Intel board I’ve seen released lately.

    There’s one more thing, and I would only consider this in the direst viral outbreaks, you can shut down all of these systems simultaneously but it’s immediate and is more like yanking the plug out of the wall. But if you were around for the “I love you” or “Melissa” viruses you might have contemplated it.

    We can solve it and technology will lead the way. Viva La Energy Needs Revolution!

  2. Jonathan Connery

    Rob: Left out a prereq: Please add this after paragraph 3 at the end of sentance 2: and you’ll need some PKI infrastructure so not just anyone can command all of this power.