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How the Public Sector Can Use More Current Resources and Cut Costs

Efficiency Matters

Improving the efficiency of IT tops the list for enterprises as they go into 2012, according to independent research firm Forrester Research, Inc.: “While 2011 started with a more robust IT spending environment, many organizations began to pull back midyear, and 2012 plans are expected to be more conservative given the high degree of uncertainty… Efficiency and consolidation are top IT priorities.”

Despite this, worldwide IT spending is set to reach $1.8 trillion in 2012 (6.9 percent growth), according to IDC, so how should CIOs prepare for an efficient 2012?  The cost of maintaining this huge IT infrastructure has grown over the past 20 years to consume around 70 percent of each year’s IT budget. CIOs want to reduce this figure, either to simply cut costs or to have more resources for new projects that take the organization forward.

Power management tackles energy waste

Added to the high cost of maintenance is the endemic energy waste that IT generates which has become the norm across all industries and all types of organizations.  Traditionally IT has not been responsible for paying utility bills and therefore has not proactively invested in initiatives to reduce consumption.  This will change as increasingly IT departments will become more accountable for the energy consumed by IT equipment.

It’s true that anyone can switch off a computer. What is complex is making sure that the user can use it whenever they need to, that IT can patch it as needed, that it remains healthy and energy savings are reported accurately.  Power management brings energy savings by powering down computers overnight and on weekends. It also ensures that when updates and new software have to be installed, IT has the ability to patch a workstation as necessary so it remains healthy and available for users when they need it.

To comply with federal mandates and support the Department of State’s Greening Diplomacy Initiative, in 2010 the Department launched an agency-wide initiative to eliminate power waste across 100 percent of its workstation computers. Historically, the Department mandated that all 88,986 desktops at its 468 worldwide sites – comprised of domestic facilities, embassies, consulates, and passport agencies – be kept on 24/7 to ensure regular security scanning, maintenance, and patching. The initiative was set to change that.

By deploying a power management solution (NightWatchman® Enterprise from 1E) the Department was able to automate the shutdown of unused workstations while maintaining security and minimizing disruption. The solution has helped the Department save more than 21,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year. Additionally it automates patch deployment and network scanning during off hours to save system administrator time.

Similarly the Fairfax County Government – serving one of the largest counties in the United States –launched several IT projects to save tax dollars and decrease the county’s carbon footprint, including a PC power management deployment to automatically shut down 14,000-plus end-user PCs across 55 offices when not in operation. The county has realized $300,000 in savings from its PC power management initiative. Further, the county’s IT staff now spend more time working on IT duties and less time wasting fuel and visiting end-users to tinker with their machines.

Streamlined Systems Management

Both these public sector agencies also sought a solution that would deliver operating system upgrades, software deployments, and patches to PCs, servers, and remote sites without disruption. Using spare network bandwidth, streamlined systems management is able to securely deliver OS upgrades, software and patches over the existing infrastructure without any disruption. It removed the need for branch servers or desk-side visits reducing existing server footprint and administrative overhead.

This was particularly important for the State Department as it needed an effective way to proactively maintain the security of desktops and laptops at remote sites. Based in sensitive locations globally with no IT staff, these sites faced tremendous network constraints. The remote sites relied on bandwidth-challenged 512Kbps satellite links to deliver 400+ MB packages to desktops and deploying servers simply was not a feasible option.

Fairfax County was awarded a Green IT award for its sustainability initiatives to eliminate excess in IT. The county also rolled out a self-service software deployment portal through which users can locate and install software without requiring IT staff to visit their office.

IT efficiency brings operational effectiveness

In both cases each public sector agency has, by implementing efficient IT initiatives – PC power management and bandwidth optimization – created impressive savings, reduced costs and cut their carbon footprint. As you step into the New Year isn’t is time to take a hard look at how efficient your organization is and make a resolution to tackle it and reap the rewards for doing so in 2012?

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