Go Green Nippon Style: Turn Your Server Off at Night

I recently met with Fujitsu Siemens Computer about green data initiatives, based on what the joint venture calls IT with a sense of responsibility. The underlying hook to the narrative is Japanese/German engineering excellence (not a bad peg, I am sure you’d agree).

Bernhard Brandwitte, director of product marketing for FSC and perhaps more importantly in the context of behavioural change an excellent story-teller, told me something that really rocked me on my heels: in Japan its common to turn production servers off at night. Yup- apparently the Japanese insurance industry tries to avoid fires in plants at night by offering much cheaper cover for companies that power down after dark.

What does that mean in practice? A much more coherent backup and recovery strategy for one. A commitment to not 24/7, not follow the Sun, not have uptime for its own sake.

I have been thinking about this issue for a while, but it was a tweet from Chris Dalby this morning that pulled the trigger:

yellowpark is going green. I’m turning my server off each night 🙂

Chris is someone I deeply respect. Another cool thing is that he won’t shop at supermarkets- all his shopping is packaging free, from a local farm shop. When he tweets a delicious lunch menu you know the vegetables were never wrapped in plastic. That is a pretty good metaphor for Chris: He is very real, very passionate, and focuses on local issues. He is all about change from the grassroots.

Chris’ commitment to server-off computing is cool because he is an expert in technologies such as Windows Small Business Server, which he sells into small and medium-sized businesses. I wonder if he could set up a service helping SMBs become more green, given his bona fides?

All I know is that much as we should all turn off our appliances at night, and our cellphone chargers, so we should ask – do we really need that server on all night?


picture credit: Chris’s dog, from his moo cards, saying… “Turn that bloody server off, I’ll be your watchdog…”

disclosure: Chris is a friend.


  1. says

    Hey james

    I love this photo of Kaija out doberman. This was taken in the Ardeche, South of France. Sh loved it down there.

    I posted that tweet thinking I was being a bit of a dork, seems like it wasn’t so dorkish afterall. Thanks.

  2. says

    Has anyone looked at the labor costs of this? I know that even on my tiny little dozen-machine network, I am reluctant to power everything off at night simply because it takes so bloody long waiting for the damn things to boot up in the morning. Seems like actual working fast-boot technologies would go a long way to sell this initiative.

  3. says

    hey chris its a beautiful picture. i wish we had kaija here when we got burgled.

    mike- looked at the labor costs? well evidently in japan the benefits must outweigh the costs. i don’t know a formal study, no. I absolutely agree about working fast-boot technology.

    BT I know is pushing its suppliers from always on to always available…

  4. says

    Great question Charlie. not on a small scale, I don’t think, although some vendors (Cassatt, say) are beginning to think through that kind of capability

  5. says

    I have been looking at ways of cutting down our server power. When I recently asked if we coudl at least turn our server off at weekends, my IT people responded: “Even without Exchange I would not recommend the shutting down of any server at weekends, Servers are designed to run 24×7, the mechanical and electronic components are specified so that they will run within constant heat parameters. The constant heating and cooling of the weekly power down is more likely to damage the system.” Do you have any comments on this advice?


  1. […] this link on saving energy by turning computers off at night! He recently learned that in Japan, insurance companies offer lower rates to companies that turn their servers off in the evening, since the believe it lowers the risk of fires. He describes it as “a commitment to not 24/7, […]