CXO

CIO Jury: 'Gas-guzzling' PCs pose IT power issues

Corporate ethics and cost drive IT energy consumption up the agenda

The rising cost of electricity and thus of running IT hardware is becoming an increasingly significant issue for organisations, according to UK IT chiefs.

Just last week, new research claimed the UK's 200 largest publicly listed companies are wasting a combined £61m per year by not using energy-efficient PCs and by leaving IT equipment running overnight.

With ever-increasing electricity demand putting pressure on the national grid, along with rising oil prices and higher energy costs globally, the cost of keeping IT equipment switched on is now a serious concern for many organisations.

Ten of silicon.com's 12-man CIO Jury IT user panel said power consumption is - or is likely to become - a significant issue in relation to the energy efficiency of their IT operations.

Environmental and climate issues will be the main drivers for this pressure to reduce energy consumption rather than cost alone, according to Nick Masterson-Jones, IT director at payments processor Voca (formerly Bacs).

He said: "Unnecessary power consumption, with all the connotations of wasting scarce resources and contributing to climate change, is likely to become a much bigger issue in terms of corporate responsibility and ethics."

Many companies have already started looking at their power costs in relation to IT operations. Colin Cobain, IT director at Tesco, said: "We've been looking at ways to reduce the energy consumption of IT kit for about two years now."

James Findlay, head of ICT at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said power consumption is an issue for all central government IT departments because of the government 'greening' policy, which aims to reduce the impact of public sector operations on the environment.

He said: "We are planning trials for renewable energy at our remote radio sites, both from a greening point of view as well as a business continuity perspective, as some of the sites are extremely remote."

But the rising cost of electricity for IT kit is undoubtedly something that is pushing this issue up the agenda for other IT chiefs.

Paul Broome, IT director at 192.com, said: "Suddenly our ISP has woken up to power issues and this hurts. We have to either pay more by spreading the load across more racks or replace power hungry kit."

Simply switching equipment off overnight to save money, however, presents the IT department with other issues.

Ian Auger, IT director at ITN, said: "We are looking to make savings where possible but turning off CPUs at night is an issue as this is the downtime we use to push out updates to our client machines to avoid impacting performance during normal business hours."

Today's CIO Jury was...

Paul Allen, head of IT, Square Gain
Ian Auger, IT director, ITN
Paul Broome, IT director, 192.com
Colin Cobain, IT director, Tesco
Michael Elliot, IT director, Hasbro
James Findlay, head of ICT, Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Ric Francis, operations director, The Post Office
Tony Johnson, IT director, Virgin Megastores
John Keeling, director of computer services, John Lewis Partnership
Nick Masterson-Jones, IT director, Voca
Rory O'Boyle, head of IT, the Football Association
Peter Ryder, head of ICT, Preston City Council

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at editorial@silicon.com

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