Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Green IT for Desktops

BIDMC has worked diligently to reduce operating costs and avoid staff reductions.

IT is doing its part to reducte operating and capital costs. One of our initiatives has been Green IT to reduce the power and cooling expenses of data center, as described in my blogs Kill a Watt and Some Like It Hot.

Our latest effort, announced this week, is power reduction for desktops.

Here's our challenge.

Many of our clinicians require "instant on" computing in clinics and operating rooms. Many of our staff require remote access to their computers via our SSLVPN Remote Desktop features.

How do we power down unused desktops but still meet the need of our stakeholders?

This week, we are modifying the settings of all our desktops - 8000 of them - to power down disk drives and monitors when they are untouched for 20 minutes. As soon as the workstation is used again, power will resume immediately. Thus, there is no need to power off computers manually. We'll do it automatically.

A screen print of our new settings is above.

When I announced this change, several folks were concerned about losing work or disabling their remote access. The systems aren't being powered down or forced into a hibernating state, the monitor is placed in a low power state and the hard drive stops spinning. We didn't want to disrupt work or prevent users from accessing their workstations from home and so this option was the best choice. It provides an opportunity for power savings but does not interfere with remote workers relying on RDP or SSLVPN.

Our commitment to Green IT will save money, improve our carbon footprint, and still meet the needs of all our users. Over time, I believe we'll move to thin client devices without moving parts that will have an even smaller energy footprint.

On a related topic, I was asked today about the kilowatt cost of Electronic Health Records, since the country will be implementing EHRs for 664,000 clinicians as part of the Stimulus Bill. I'm working with my energy experts to calculate our energy footprint using the extremely virtualized server/storage/data center infrastructure we've implemented for our community doctors. I'll report on that soon.


Techno Tornadoes said...

I would be interested if your drive failure rate increases on your desktops over time.

Unknown said...

Harddrive spinup is sometimes slow. It may take 30 seconds to get a response with the harddrive stopped.

Gregg Alexander - London, OH said...

While the healthcare reform issue is large enough on its own, seems to me that we need to consider even bigger picture integration of our problems. Consider a solar panel or microwind integration with the install of each those 664,000 EHRs. It may not pay the heating bill, but it could offset the extra electricity cost, limit further drain on the power grid, and reduce carbon footprint swelling. Further bonuses: new jobs, new commerce, and promotion of energy-efficient thinking.

Damien Leri said...

When I used a "kill a watt" wattage meter I saw no significant decrease when the drive spins down. Either way the wattage of a Dell Optiplex 755 hovers around 50 watts.

Monitor standby tested out well, though, dropping from 60w to 0w.

PC standby also works, going to 0 watts. As far as instant-on: I think resuming from standby is quick, depending on your hardware etc. In any case you still need a solution for the Remote Desktop problem. There are third-party tools to send a wake-on-LAN command. has an enterprise solution that appears to be exactly for this, but I have not tried it.

- Damien, IT for Penn Law

Miles Technologies said...

This is great information for how healthcare organizations can use Green IT to cut costs and increase efficiency. As a provider of Green IT solutions, Miles Technologies offers Network-Based Power Management Software to automatically shut down equipment during specified periods of inactivity.

Maimónides said...

If your desktops and laptops are Windows-powered PCs,you earn a better energy saving figures simply to switch on computer's perfomance settings to "adjust to better perfomance". And, if you have got Windows Vista powered PCs, an improvement can be made simply disabling indexer options on control panel and disabling Windows Sidebar.