Notes from the field – The strength of NightWatchman Enterprise

NightWatchman-Enterprise- 8211 -PC-Power-Management

Tim James is Director of sustainableIT, a partner of 1E working in South Africa. Here he guest writes for us on his organization’s experience using NightWatchman Enterprise – 1E’s PC Power Management Solution – with their own clients.

We have been a partner of 1E’s for more than five years and during this time have implemented NightWatchman Enterprise at some fairly large and significant sites.

Recently we undertook an exercise at one of the major corporates in South Africa in an effort to secure energy rebates from the local utility. South Africa operates within an energy constrained environment and the national utility has a monopoly in terms of energy supply. In an effort to reduce demand on the grid, the local utility is providing incentives to corporates to reduce energy consumption.

The local rebate is quite unique in that it only kicks in, or is available, based on a load reduction of 50 KW which has to be achieved within the hours of 6am and 10pm at night during weekdays only. This is not to be confused with kWh, although the minimum kWh savings during this period would be 208 000 kWh per annum.

The client in question was also unique in that around 60 percent of workstations were shut down manually by the end users. Normally in South Africa we find between 10 and 15 percent of machines are manually shut down. This meant that the opportunity to lower energy usage was far reduced and we had to ensure that the solution provided the maximum savings possible on the 8500 workstations in question.

After implementing NightWatchman and establishing a baseline of energy consumption for at least a calendar month, we were then in a position to start implementing policies and tracking changes. When we first did this we were in for a bit of a shock as the load reduction we were achieving was only 23 kW, far below the minimum savings we needed to achieve!

This is when the power of NightWatchman Enterprise really kicked in, in particular the value of the reports and the feedback we were receiving from the solution. This feedback and information I might add just cannot be achieved with traditional systems management tools, which in this case was SCCM 2012 SP1. The level of reporting for the enterprise just simply is not there.

The devil is in the detail

After realizing we were not achieving savings the first thing we focused on was uncompleted shutdowns, or in this instance ‘uncompleted standby’. It immediately became clear that a significant percentage of the workstations did not support the sleep state, the NightWatchman report indicated as such. We initially thought this very odd as the hardware was all modern Dell and Lenovo but on investigation we realised that the VGA driver in some of the builds was in fact incorrect and hence preventing shutdowns. This was resolved with the build team.

We also found that there was older hardware in the environment, still running Windows XP that would also not support sleep, again based on NightWatchman data. These machines have been targeted for refresh and successfully shutdown when a ‘shutdown’ rather than standby policy is applied. Again, one of the powers of NightWatchman is allowing mixed policies across mixed sets of workstations.

Next we moved on to sleepless processes, these are processes running on a workstation which essentially ‘tell’ the machine not to go to sleep, despite what policies are in place. Many of these processes are redundant, superfluous and frankly wasting energy. On investigation we determined that there were more than 3000 sleepless events happening on a daily basis. These were events stopping machines from going into a sleep state. By utilizing the ‘sleepless client detection’ functionality within NightWatchman, we were able to isolate these processes and ensure that machines successfully transitioned to a sleep state and reduced sleepless events to between 200 and 300 a day.

The process we followed was an iterative one, but over a period of three to four weeks we have seen dramatic results and the latest load reduction reports we have run show a minimum reduction of 52.8 kW, in excess of the minimum required to achieve the rebate. NightWatchman also provides us with all the data required by the energy utility reported in half hour intervals which reduces the ongoing reporting requirements of the client which is now literally a click of a button.

I read an analyst report recently stating that the PC Power Management market was now limited due to inherent functionality within the Operating System and enhancements in system management tooling. This may be true in many instances but the reality is that in a complex enterprise environment we could not have achieved what we did without NightWatchman’s reporting capabilities, and without a tool of this sort you may be leaving a significant amount of cost and energy on the table.

This article was originally published at Read more about sustainableIT on our partner page.

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