WebCentral founder and serial entrepreneur Lloyd Ernst has launched a new company that provides IT administrators and corporate users a tool to monitor and control the power usage of their PCs.
EventZero's flagship product Greentrac provides real-time analysis and control of the power usage of a corporate fleet of computers.
The tool seeks to measure the power efficiency of a PC beyond the traditional health metrics available from most vendors (memory and CPU usage, network utilisation, disk I/O).
The tool combines this data with 14 other metrics - including the response times between a user making a command and an operating system acting on it.
In doing so, administrators can analyse whether the machine is living up to the performance its user demands from it.
The tool will help administrators and users determine the right time for a PC refresh, Ernst said.
"The replacement of a fleet should be based around how a machine is performing, not around some depreciation schedule," Ernst said. "With this tool you can get justified numbers on why a PC needs to be replaced."
Importantly, these decisions can be made on the basis of what an employee's workload demands.
A high-volume financial trader, for example, requires far more power than a standard office laptop user, and the tool is more interested in whether the user's needs are being met than some universal standard of PC health.
It can also help CIOs make better choices around what PCs to purchase in the workplace.
"Some older machines can also use up a lot of power - with this tool you can clearly see which model of PC is more efficient for which job," Ernst said.
Power to the people
The Greentrac product suite uses what Ernst calls a "split incentive" model for power reduction in the workplace.
Ernst said it was important to ensure it wasn't just those specifically charged with sustainability that were touched by the technology. While CIOs, utility managers and IT administrators have more control, CFOs can be delivered better reporting and end-users can be made to feel part of the company's energy saving initiatives.
The Greentrac tool reveals to users how much energy they are using to help them make better decisions around when to turn the PC off or leave it idle, for example.
The tool then provides every employee a score to compare their energy use to that of their colleagues.
"We influence behavioural change by feedback information to the user in real time," Ernst said.
In field tests, giving users visibility over the power consumption of their PCs resulted in 22 percent power reductions over baseline (the existing reductions made by IT without workers knowing), Ernst said.
Further licensed options include 'Wake on Web' - in which users can turn corporate PCs on and off remotely, and 'Wake on Location", which uses the location services of the iPhone or Android platform such that a user's handset automatically 'wakes up' or sets a computer to sleep whenever the user leaves or arrives within a certain radius of their machine.
The smartphone acts as a proximity card, Ernst said, using GPS triangulation and other techniques to enable users to have their computers turned on and off within around 50 metres of their machine.
Greentrac comes as an out-of-the-box standalone appliance (iRU/2RU) or virtual appliance for up to 100,000 workstations, as well as small (1.2MB) software agents for installation on PC and Mac desktops.
Ernst did not reveal pricing but indicated a company would want to have a fleet of at least 200 PCs to justify the cost.
The tool was developed by the same brains behind the licensing smarts of XtreamLok - another Ernst venture purchased by Symantec in 1995 and now used on some several hundred million machines worldwide.