PowerMAN saves University of Liverpool £300,000 per year
The University of Liverpool has always tried to reduce IT energy costs. They were one of the first universities to develop an in-house software solution for turning off unused computers and were keen to compare their
existing approach to Data Synergy's PowerMAN Power Manager.
"We had an in-house solution but it had some limitations. We reached the point where we wanted to do more…" - Lisa Nelson, University of Liverpool
The university has approximately 7,500 computers under central management with around 2,000 used in student walk-in centres and the remainder by staff.
The team initially installed PowerMAN in the walk-in centres and followed this up
six months later with a deployment in the staff areas.
"I only know one power management product that truly addresses our problems…PowerMAN"
PowerMAN was easily deployed using the university's bespoke deployment system
and has been successfully reporting data for over twelve months. The IT Team
initially decided to use a low-impact ‘No User’ policy that turned off computers
when nobody was logged on. This approach was designed to replicate the behaviour
of their existing system and to achieve significant savings without disrupting
any user activity or risking any data loss. The team recognised that this would
not achieve the maximum possible energy saving but felt this initial approach
would have the fewest drawbacks for users.
The BHLC computer room was selected as a pilot area and carefully monitored
to determine the effectiveness of the software before the full deployment.
BHLC has around 30 Pentium 4 based PCs with CRT monitors. Several computers
were measured and found to use around 100W each with a further 50W used
by the monitor. The monitors were already placed in a low power state when
not in use and therefore this was not available as an additional saving.
Over a period of several weeks PowerMAN was used to turn off used computers
in the BHLC area. The results were monitored using the PowerMAN reporting suite.
PowerMAN was highly effective reducing waste from over twenty hours per day
per PC to less than one. This was a saving of around 90%. The university
estimate that this is equivalent to a financial saving of approximately £70
per annum per computer.
"PowerMAN really worked. The support and advice we received was first class."
The IT Team followed the BHLC pilot with a full scale deployment to all 2,000
student area computers. Initially this used the same low-impact approach used
in the BHLC area but over time, this has been improved by:
"You can see why we consider this a move well worth making. Overall, we hope
to halve the amount of idle time."
- Logging out inactive users after 3 hours
- Hibernating computers with no logged on user after only 10 minutes
Left unmanaged the student computers could have produced up to 48,000 hours of waste every
day but, using PowerMAN, this has been reduced to less than 2,000 hours. The university
estimate that, compared to doing nothing, this saves over £300,000 per annum.
"Teaching Centre computers are now idle on average less than one hour per day"
Saving money with PowerMAN reporting
The university have made extensive use of the PowerMAN reporting system
to divide the organisation into over 90 separate monitoring units.
These are arranged in a tree structure which matches both the use of
the computers and their physical location.
This configuration allows the IT Team to quickly drill down
to specific operational areas, trial separate policies and
monitor the efficiency of each area. The IT Team can quickly
download the reports in Excel format and analyse them further.
In October 2008 the importance of the web-based reporting was
highlighted by an issue with a new corporate screen saver.
The screen saver was deployed to the student walk-in centre computers to
promote services to users. A new version had been deployed and it was
artificially preventing the computers from becoming idle.
This was a classic example of PC "Insomnia."
The screen saver deliberately inhibited the low-impact PowerMAN
policy and resulted in a large increase in idle hours and associated
The IT Team were immediately able to spot the fault from the
PowerMAN reports and quickly found that the screen saver
was the cause of the problem. Unchecked the problem could have
cost thousands of pounds. Instead, PowerMAN allowed the team to
stop it before the electricity bill arrived.
PowerMAN was quickly introduced on the student computers and over
time has significantly improved on the previous in-house solution.
This worked so well because the student computers were centrally
controlled and used by different users (churn) every day. The university
IT Team knew that the 5,500 staff computers would be a much bigger challenge.
The team needed to find a way to motivate the staff and get them on-board.
The solution they used was a combination of PowerMAN and a little gentle
The IT Team developed a small utility that prompts the user
to select their power requirements from a pre-defined list
of PowerMAN settings.
This quick tool allows the user to feel that they are part
of the process and opt-out if necessary.
The IT Team used some gentle persuasion to get maximum compliance.
The utility asks users to justify if they want to opt-out and tells
them that their justification will be recorded. This gentle push
in the right direction means that most users comply whilst knowing
they can opt-out if necessary.
Since it was introduced PowerMAN has reduced inactive staff computer
hours by over 25%. The project is on-going but current staff computer savings are
estimated to exceed £30,000 per annum.
"PowerMAN is really powerful. Pretty much every configuration and
setting you can think of is available. It is really easy to change configuration
and you can often see the results next day."