DOE – Thin Client computing can reduce end-user energy costs by up to 95 percent

In 2009, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced plans to spend $256 million in Recovery Act funds to “support energy efficiency improvements in major industrial sectors.” This spending could directly target many of our customers, who could realize significant energy savings by switching to Thin Client technology. The government is furiously looking for places to spend money, and if you have not moved to cut your energy consumption this may be the time to do so.

The DOE certainly recognizes the energy savings that can be realized by replacing power hungry PCs with Thin Clients. Just before this announcement was made, an audit was conducted of computing resources’ energy use at 7 sites run by the Department of Energy itself. The audit showed areas that needed improvement, and one of the major discoveries they made was that:

None of the sites reviewed had taken advantage of opportunities to reduce energy consumption, enhance cyber security, and reduce costs available through the use of techniques, such as “thin-client computing”

But the results of the audit, and their comments on the benefits of Thin Client technology, are especially remarkable. They recognized that “A thin-client device uses only a fraction of the energy consumed by a standard desktop, results in acquisition and disposal savings, and enhances cyber security.” The report was very critical of the DOE for not making the switch to Thin Clients. In fact, they “… calculated that had the Department transitioned to this technology and replaced more than 10,300 desktops at the seven sites visited, energy savings of more than $195,000 annually could have been realized.”

There is no question at the DOE that Thin Client technology is a major part of the answer to reduced energy use. The report goes on to say that “While there may be some incremental increased energy usage and infrastructure costs to support a thin-client infrastructure, a Headquarters official informed us that a recent Departmental study concluded that overall energy consumption could be reduced by more than 55 percent.”

But Wait – There’s More: Millions Saved on Support!

The centralized computing model offered by switching to Thin Clients greatly simplifies all the work required babysitting normal PCs. All new software and updates are handled at a few servers rather than on hundreds of distributed PCs.

Costs and disposal were also considered. At the seven sites reviewed, they “… determined that the Department paid $1.2 million more than necessary in hardware acquisition costs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 by acquiring 2,063 desktops rather than thin-clients.” When it came time to get rid of obsolete PC’s, the report stated that “… because thin-client machines generally have a life-cycle that is twice as long as a desktop and weigh only about one-fourth the amount of a desktop, the sites reviewed may be able to avoid disposal of up to 77 tons of waste material annually.”

So – why haven’t you made the switch to Thin Client?

Tom Jordan

V.P. of Marketing - Automation Control Products