1E makes and sells software that analyzes server and operations to find ways of reducing IT waste through analytics and business intelligence at the server and desktop level for global companies such as Dell and AT&T. CEO and co-founder Sumir Karayi said billions of dollars in electricity costs, overspending on hardware and software and valuable staff time could be saved if companies more closely monitored IT efficiency. We spoke with Karayi about how to produce more “useful work” from IT infrastructure by using performance analytics
More than 10 years ago, before business intelligence and ‘Green IT’ became chic, Sumir Karayi and his partners created 1E with the goal of cutting inefficiencies in corporate computing. Named for an error message the partners saw while working at Microsoft Corp., they set out to use software, analytics and independent research to identify how much computing power is wasted – and developed software to monitor and remedy the situation for clients such as Dell, AT&T and Verizon Wireless. On March 10, Karayi, CEO of 1E, told the Always On “Going Green” conference in Boston that 15 percent of servers do nothing at all, and could save $25 billion if they were just turned off – saving money, environmental impact and working smarter.
Q: How do you define waste and find it in a data center?
A: We have a term we call “useful work” – desktop computers have a lot of housekeeping programs like anti-virus and networking. Analytics are essential in this space. Servers have their own system maintenance and administrators think if the servers are running at 80 percent capacity that’s a good thing. But we’re not sure people are measuring the right things. Using software to analyze the usage of existing programs you can see work being done. There are 104 million PCs in offices today and half of them are left on 24/7.
Q: What did the analytics find?
A: Well, at first no one trusted the data. Independent research on 1 million PCs at client companies found that the savings were $36 per PC, per year – and that was three years ago. And people had a disbelief of the scale in terms of numbers. There’s been so much focus on service level agreements and up-time that it has taken us away from efficiency.
Q: Why is this a concern now? Is it a function of the economy?
A: Data centers consume as much as 2.5 percent of the total electric used in the United States and as many as 15 percent of the servers are doing nothing. Electric rates are rising and for years the IT department didn’t care about energy waste. Most data centers are metered down to the rack level but you need to go one level further and see what useful work they’re doing – because it makes no sense to spend money on cooling a server that’s not productive and could be turned off.
Q: So we’re talking about doing more with less?
A: Companies and organizations may not know how many resources they have – software licenses, equipment if there’s no incentive to rein in spending. The goal is always to spend as much as the budget allows. One local government office found 18 percent of its servers weren’t doing anything at all. Our software is offered for free by PG&E in California because there are incentives from the utility company –standards and certification will help with efficiency and you need analytics to measure that.
There is just so much waste in IT – time, electricity and computer power – and we are so dependent on the equipment and the data. And there are implications for software updates, maintenance, lowering costs and electricity conservation. We had Harris Research interview employees and more than 60 percent of people said their organizations should be doing something about it.
Q: So, how does 1E’s Nightwatchman software decide how to manage resources? What kind of business intelligence has to be applied?
A: The server has to report when it’s polled that it is doing useful work in a business application for an approved user – if not it puts the server in a low-power mode. It’s still available when the demand returns the algorithm recognizes a need — the same concept that electric utilities call ‘demand management’ and it can be traced by department, location, application or other criteria.
Spotfire Blogging Team
Image Credit: Courtesy of 1E