Howard Community College is an award-winning higher education institution located in Columbia, Maryland. Among its many awards, HCC has been recognized as a Top-Tech Savvy Community College by the Center for Digital Education and the American Association of Community Colleges. In 2006, Howard Community College celebrated its 35th anniversary with nearly 21,000 students enrolled.
In addition to the computers used by the 500+ employees of HCC, the IT department of HCC maintains 2020 student workstations and 27 servers campus-wide.
Like most IT professionals, Sung Lee knew that there were financial and environmental benefits to reducing computer energy waste. As the Director of Student Computer Support for Howard Community College, Sung recognized that there was no need for HCC’s computers to be running during periods where computer labs were not being used. Sung began experimenting with the power saving settings that his Windows computers had—just like most IT administrators who want to deploy computer energy management do.
Initial attempts to reduce computer energy waste were limited to nightly workstation shutdowns. “We used to shutdown our computers every night at midnight,” recalls Sung. “While this did provide HCC with some measure of power and cost savings, it came with some problems as well.”
One major problem was that the shutting down of computers at midnight was not very reliable. Often, Sung and his team would in the morning find computers that failed to shutdown overnight. Since HCC was trying to go green, and every computer counted, this simply would not do.
Another major problem occurred when trying to implement energy management during daytime hours. The problem was that the power saving settings that come with Windows were too rigid and disruptive for HCC’s needs. Since the operating system’s power management settings are strictly based on time, they cannot be set to revolve around user activity. Once the operating system’s power management is enabled, Windows recognizes a computer as in use only if there is keyboard or mouse activity. One can imagine the frustration teachers and student felt when computers would power down in the middle of PowerPoint presentations and lessons that involved watching video clips through Windows Media Player.
Clearly the computers were in use, but since Windows did not detect keyboard or mouse activity for a period of time, it blanked the monitors and then powered down the computers.
HCC needed a power management solution that allowed them to maximize energy savings while computers were not in use, while still allowing users to quickly wake computers up when they were needed. It needed to be smart enough to recognize when computers were in use, and it had to allow IT administrators to retain their ability to service enterprise computers and deploy system updates with ease.
The intelligent energy management features of Faronics Power Save was exactly what Howard Community College needed. Power Save has a unique feature that no other energy management software has—the ability to initiate energy conservation policies based on CPU, disk, and application activity. By basing energy management on activity, rather than fixed time values, Power Save is better able to match energy management with user activity.
Power Save also enables IT administrators to prevent any energy management from taking place when certain applications are running. “If Power Save detects that PowerDVD or Windows Media Player is running on our Instructor stations, it prevents the computer from blanking the screen or powering down,” says Sung. These features make Power Save non-disruptive to IT and the end user.
“Initially, we installed Power Save on two computers and then evaluated it for over a month,” says Sung Lee. “In September of 2007, we deployed Power Save campus-wide on all student workstations.” HCC did evaluate alternative energy management solutions, but found Power Save to be the best balance between staff, student, and IT needs. Unlike other server-based technologies, Power Save is workstation-based. Power Save helps organizations gain the benefits of energy management without any investment in expensive server technology.
Howard Community College has currently instructed Power Save to shutdown monitors after 20 minutes of inactivity and computer after 2 hours of inactivity. Based on their current settings, HCC is saving $4200 per month—that works out to over $50,000 in energy savings per year.