Skip to main content

Greening the desktop

I attended an interesting workshop this week. It was one of the series that Peter James has put together for his SusteIT project; this one focussed on desktop PCs. The talks and panels looked at measurement procurement of energy use, procurement options, desktop grids, power management and thin clients. In any sizeable organistion, Desktop PCs use a large amount of electricity and there are many options available for reducing this consumption - and saving money too. This is the second time that I've seen a British university do the sums and expect to save £250,000 a year.

The panel on power management tools was interesting. These seem to be coming of age at last. Operating systems have had support for managing individual computers but a large organisation needs a system for managing thousands of PCs, with different policies for different groups, and of course the important facility to wake up in time for the distribution of updates.

James Osborne gave an interesting analysis of the FLOPS/Watt providing by Cardiff University's Condor pool, as compared to their old cluster (inefficient) and the one they installed last year using modern cooling systems. The new cluster is much more efficient, so it seems that if you have the funds to install modern dedicated technology for high-throughput computing, that may be the way to go. Of course, if you don't have that sort of money, a desktop grid will make good use of your existing infrastructure.

Unless, of course, you go for the thin client option. As Queen Margaret University have shown, a thin client approach can dovetail very neatly with energy-efficient buildings. Conversely, Merrill Lynch found that they used more energy in the server room than they saved on the desktop. The moral, I believe, is that you have to measure carefully the gains and losses for your particular installation. Case studies from elsewhere can give hints about what to look for and approaches to consider, but they are no substitute for performing your own analysis.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Changing Principles

In EA, architecture principles set a framework for making architectural decisions.  They help to establish a common understanding across different groups of stakeholders, and provide guidance for portfolios and projects.  Michael Durso of the LSE gave a good introduction to the idea in a webinar last week for the UCISA EA community.

Many organisations take the TOGAF architecture principles as a starting point.  These are based on the four architectural domains of TOGAF: business, information/data, applications, technology/infrastructure.  These principles tend to describe what should be done, e.g. re-use applications, buy in software rather than build it, keep data secure.  See for example the principles adopted at Plymouth University and the University of Birmingham.

Recently though, I encountered a different way of looking at principles.  The user experience design community tend to focus more on how we should do things.  E.g. we should start with user needs, use iterative developm…

Why the UCISA Capability Model is useful

What do Universities do?

This may seem a strange question to ask and the answer may seem obvious.  Universities educate students and undertake research.  And perhaps they work with industrial partners and create spin-off companies of their worn.  And they may work with local communities, and affiliation bodies for certain degress, and they definitely report on their activities to government bodies such as HEFCE.  They provide student services and support.  The longeryou think about it, the more things you can think of that a University does.

In business, the things that an organisation does are called "capabilities", which is a slightly strange term.  I think it is linked to the HR idea of a combination of the CAPacity and ABILITY to do a task.  Whatever the name, it is a useful concept.  A capability is more basic than a process: a University may change the way it educates students but as long as it remains a University it will educate them one way or another.

A capability …

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…