by September 5, 2007 0 comments

A day before this PCQuest issue was to go to press, we had a power failure.
Nothing that doesn’t happen three times a day in Gurgaon. This time around, our
central UPS tripped and started emitting smoke. Our Cyber House network and IT
infrastructure shut down. The bypass didn’t work, and we were effectively out of
action for a half day.

Along with all the insight such an incident gives you (an external secondary
bypass would’ve helped…), there was also the revelation about how critical power
management has become, and how little attention is given to this area in India.

Like most midsize businesses, we largely use CRT displays with PCs. They’re
half the cost of LCDs, but draw four times the power directly, and take three
times more power to cool.

On the face of it, energy efficiency isn’t a big deal for Indian businesses.
There isn’t a lot of worrying about the environment. The cost of utility power
is often a small part of operating costs.

Prasanto K
Chief Editor

Gurgaon has hundreds of all-glass buildings-they look good. The glass lets in
sunlight, which is blocked with shutters and curtains, and electric lights are
used anyway. It lets in and traps heat (heard of the greenhouse effect!), which
is zapped with extra air-conditioning to bring the workplace down to 22 degrees,
so employees wear sweaters and shawls in summer. Stupidity?

Energy management and the environment haven’t been top-of-mind for most
Indian businesses, barring a few with CSR (corporate social responsibility)
initiatives. Few IT users would have considered energy efficiency a top
parameter helping them choose a brand, in a survey such as the one featured in
this issue (PCQ Most Wanted IT Brands). Now that is just about beginning to

The first driver of the changing awareness is Mobility. In an increasingly
mobile world, people are increasingly dependent on (wirelessly) connected
devices. And the last frontier for these devices is power. They last as long as
their batteries do. Those batteries haven’t kept pace with the feature explosion
in smartphones and PDAs. And even if laptops appear to last longer-six hours or
more on a charge-their batteries deteriorate. People readily pay a premium for
energy-efficient portable devices.

The second driver is what we encountered when our UPS failed: backup power.
For instance, if 300 PCs had used TFTs instead of CRTs, we’d saved over 15 kW of
power, allowing for a lower-capacity UPS, and requiring way less cooling-both
for displays, and UPS.

Data centers are a perfect case for energy planning. They’re power guzzlers,
the racks, and all the air-conditioners that cools them. With low-power systems,
there’s also the benefit of more efficient power-backup.

Even some small businesses are beginning to figure this out. Using laptops
instead of desktops, they save on power-backup: UPS, generator. And using
wireless networks, they have the flexibility to rearrange, expand, or move base,
and they often do.

Already, the processor battleground has moved from raw clock speed to
performance to performance per watt, driven by mobility as well as the cooling
and power needs of densely packed server racks.

Businesses, small and large, will be forced to walk that path: if not by
concern for the environment, or legislation, then by economics and common sense.

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