Are power-saving nightwatchmen worth paying for?

We wrote about 1E's NightWatchman product earlier. 1E and the Verdiem one, Surveyor, are the two leading PC switch-off products on the market.

Another product comes from Faronics of San Ramon, California. Its Power Save product has customisable activity settings based on CPU, disk, and application activity and offers centralised PC power status management with policy scheduling and real-time energy savings reporting. The company says customers should get a return on their Power Save purchase within one year.

Microsoft's Vista has significantly better energy-saving features than XP. There is a stronger default power saving setting and generally better power management facilities. The company has claimed that this could help a 200-PC business to lower its carbon dioxide emissions by 45 tons a year. Gartner says companies could achieve this with existing PCs, simply by better user education and there is no point in buying Vista just to go green.

Verdiem has just raised $8.33 million in a funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a partner at that VC firm joins Verdiem's board. Verdiem's largest customer so far is The City University of New York, which hopes to save over $1.4 million over the next four years. Verdiem says the average cost savings realised by its Surveyor customers is in the $25-40 per PC area.

1E is doing well too. It is profitable; Verdiem is not, and has more than 20 customers with over 100,000 PCs being looked after by NightWatchman.

1E claims that any company interested in calculating their own potential ROI can use 1E’s calculator, or visit an independent source: Energy Star’s calculator for example.

Gartner has said that PCs account for more than 0.5 percent of global carbon emissions. The PC power consumption wastage is said by 1E to be $1.72 billion, according to a PC Energy Report. The 1E spokesperson said: "The UK alone represents around £115 million worth of wasted electricity. The overall global figure is therefore far higher than that quoted in the (Techworld story above)."

Surveyor pricing

Regarding per-seat Surveyor pricing the spokesperson said: "The £9 per seat figure and the £50/PC saving you quote for First Direct was actually just an average cost for a typical company. 1E is unable to confirm precise figures for individual companies."

"1E sells to large companies that have substantially more seats than the 2,600 figure that is quoted for the First Direct Leeds and Hamilton offices, so using this figure as an example doesn’t provide an accurate reflection on NightWatchman's typical ROI. It would be more accurate to say that a typical 1E customer has at least 10,000 PCs, thereby achieving cost savings in the region of $165,000 per year."

NightWatchman strengths

Here is an excerpt from an interview with 1E co-founder Sumir Karayi, who was asked, among other questions, why NightWatchman is better than just asking employees to turn their PCs off.

He replied: "In smaller companies, this may well suffice. However, 1E sells to major international companies with tens of thousands of employees, where establishing and policing such informal procedures is simply not practical in many cases. A central PC power management solution therefore represents the most viable option. Another advantage of NightWatchman is the ability to save any documents that are still open on users’ desktops, minimising data loss."

What are the strengths of NightWatchman compared to Verdiem?

"NightWatchman is different from Verdiem because it is not a single function product. When combined with SMSWakeUp and DeskMon (other 1E products) it helps stop network virus infiltration by providing operational monitoring and enabling at-risk PCs to be safely turned off and on. All functionality can be managed centrally, providing both substantial cost savings through reduced power wastage, whilst also facilitating patch management. "

Do you need software?

Organisations could educate users to switch off PCs when they stop work, stop using moving screen savers and using power-saving settings better, like switching screens off after ten minutes or so with no keyboard or mouse input.

After all, we do manage to turn taps off in bathrooms. Nevertheless, where a user population is recalcitrant, automated solutions will achieve power-savings. The examples mentioned above are real. 1E argues that its NightWatchman will earn its keep.