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Using Mobile Endpoint Management to prolong smartphone battery life?

Low Battery Warning

Endpoint management is a term I came across relatively recently at a Symantec event – it refers to software used to manage client computers, laptops, and servers in an organisation (the endpoints of the network). Endpoint management software does things like automating the rollout of updates, manages licensing of software and often has a role in energy management of computers (ensuring they are shut down at the end of the day, not consuming resources when not in use). Also, policies can be set to ensure the power management of the machines doesn’t interfere with the installation of any patches.

With the increasing numbers of smartphones and tablets entering the workplace, a new class of enterprise software is appearing, mobile endpoint management. I’ve had discussions with Symantec about this last year and had a demo of IBM’s beta Mobile Endpoint Manager at this year’s IBM Pulse.

The IBM software, while not yet released, is still quite interesting. It has a considerable amount of functionality for securing devices and their data, as well as what IBM are calling micro-vpn – a nifty little bit of coding which allows for the ability to VPN from within an individual app on the mobile device.

One obvious trick that’s being missed though? Energy management for mobile devices.

The one issue that all smart phone owners share is battery life. This is also an issue for organisations which provide smartphones to their staff because many of those employees will charge their phones while at work, increasing the organisations’ energy and carbon footprints. Potentially worse though, is if the battery does run out, the staff member in question is harder to contact and may be cut off from company resources.

How do you, through software, extend the life of a smartphone battery?

Well, off the top of my head, a few things come to mind – how about scanning for services not being used and shutting them down (bluetooth, wi-fi, even 3G if battery life becomes critical). Also, applications not being used could be automatically force-quit so they aren’t consuming resources in the background. Shutting off notifications (and iCloud on iPhones to avoid unnecessary uploading of data.

All of this could be configured to kick in as the amount of battery life remaining dwindles. At 30% shut off notifications and Bluetooth, at 25% iCloud and any open, but unused apps, and so on.

Another opportunity for saving comes from poorly coded applications which consume power when they are supposed to be doing nothing in the background – the iPhone Skype app had this issue for a while. An intelligent Endpoint Management app would monitor all apps energy use on the phone and report anomalous use to the user, along with an offer to close it (and potentially even offer to report the issue back to Apple and/or the app developer).

If this is reported transparently to the phone user, with an option of an opt-out, and with estimates of the amount that this will extend the battery life, most people will buy into it very quickly.

And it saves money, energy, and carbon emissions. Win, win and win.

Anyone coding Mobile Endpoint Management and not considering energy management is missing a trick.

Photo Credit Tom Raftery

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Power Assure automates the reduction of data center power consumption

Data centre

If you’ve been following this blog in the last couple of weeks you’ll have noticed that I have profiled a couple of data centre energy management companies – well, today it is the turn of Power Assure.

The last time I talked to Power Assure was two years ago and they were still very early stage. At that time I talked to co-founder and CTO, Clemens Pfeiffer, this time I spoke with Power Assure’s President and CEO, Brad Wurtz.

The spin that Power Assure put on their energy management software is that, not only do they offer their Dynamic Power Management solution which provides realtime monitoring and analytics of power consumption across multiple sites, but their Dynamic Power Optimization application automatically reduces power consumption.

How does it do that?

Well, according to Brad, clients put an appliance in each of the data centres they are interested in optimising (Power Assure’s target customer base are large organisations with multiple data centres – government, financial services, healthcare, insurance, telco’s, etc.). The appliance uses the management network to gather data – data may come from devices (servers, PDU’s, UPS’s, chillers, etc.) directly, or more frequently, it gathers data directly from multiple existing databases (i.e. a Tivoli db, a BMS, an existing power monitoring system, and/or inventory system) and performs Data Centre analytics on those data.

Data centre

The optimisation module links into existing system management software to measures and track energy demand on a per applications basis in realtime. It then calculates the amount of compute capacity required to meet the service level agreements of that application and adds a little bit of headroom. From the compute it knows the number of servers needed, so it communicates with the load balancer (or hypervisor, depending on the data centre’s infrastructure) and adjusts the size of the server pool to meet the required demand.

Servers removed from the pool can be either power capped or put in sleep mode. As demand increases the servers can be brought fully online and the load balancer re-balanced so the enlarged pool can meet the new level of demand. This is the opposite of the smart grid demand response concept – this is supply-side management – matching your energy consumption (supply to the demand for compute resources).

A partnership with Intel means that future versions will be able to turn off and on individual components or cores to more precisely control power usage.

The software is agentless and interestingly, given the customer profile Brad outlined (pharmas, financial institutions, governments, etc.), customers log in to view and manage their power consumption data because it is SaaS delivered.

The two case studies on their site make for interesting reading and show reductions in power consumption from 56% – 68% which are not to be sneezed at.

The one client referred to in the call is NASA and Power Assure are involved in a data centre consolidation program with them. Based on the work they have done with Power Assure, Brad informed me that NASA now expects to be able to consolidate their current 75 Data Centres significantly. That’ll make a fascinating case study!

You should follow me on Twitter here

Photo credit cbowns

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Energy efficiency in the Enterprise – Chris O’Connor’s Pulse keynote

Chris O’Connor is vice president of Strategy and Market Management for the Tivoli brand within IBM Software Group.

Chris gave a spectacular demo/presentation at Pulse 2009 on energy efficiency in the enterprise.

What set this presentation apart is that Chris gave some great stats (in 2007 data centers consumed 183bn kWh of energy, this cost $15.9bn, and 75% of enterprises have initiatives to reduce energy consumption).

Chris also demo’d some of the hugely effective ways that getting solid realtime metrics around energy utilisation in the enterprise helps reduce consumption, and finally at around 13:45 in the video, Chris tells a fascinating story about how their data center in Austin Texas was suffering from power spikes at 1am every morning, how they identified the cause and solved it.

IBM were good enough to give us a copy of his presentation for posting here.

[Disclosure – IBM paid my travel and expenses to attend Pulse]

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Reducing printers’ energy/ carbon footprint – Tivoli’s David Bartlett & Ricoh’s Mark Minshull

Tivoli and Ricoh had a stand at Pulse 2009 where they were showing how it is possible to reduce a company’s carbon footprint by actively measuring and managing printer usage across organisations, through software!

I asked the guys there to talk me through the process and to give a demo to camera.

Oh, and there was free beer at the conference, hence the bottle in my hand!!!

[Disclosure – IBM paid my travel and expenses to attend Pulse 2009]

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IBM’s Vik Chandra on how software can help reduce your carbon footprint

IBM Green Data Center in Second Life
The IBM Green Data Center in Second Life

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Episode 2 of the GreenMonk Podcasts – 27 mins 27 secs

My guest on this podcast is IBM’s Vik Chandra. According to IBM Vik

is currently responsible for Market Management and Strategy for IBM software offerings that enable organizations to reduce their energy consumption and environmental impact. IBM’s software group offers middleware from its Tivoli, Rational, WebSphere, Lotus and Information Management brands.

I was interested to know how Vik felt software could help companies reduce their carbon footprint so I invited him to come on the show to discuss this and also to answer questions I solicited from readers of this site.

Here are the questions I asked Vik and the approx. times I asked them:

It is easy to see how more efficient hardware can help drop a company’s energy use but how is software helping companies reduce their carbon footprint? – 00:20

Demand response – the ability to have devices adjust their settings dynamically in response to pricing signals from utilities etc is recently gaining a lot of attention. Is this something IBM are looking into? 03:23

Questions from readers:

Chris Dalby
Are there any plans to expand the current cost craze that has hit Hursley? With rising energy and utility costs in general, are there plans to help companies intelligently manage and automate their energy infrastructure using mqtt? – 05:57


Alan in Belfast

As CPU/core speeds increase, software has become more and more processor hungry, driving up heat, fan, power etc. Energy efficient machines – even Eee PC 1000s! – start to alter the processor speed to keep power demands down. Are IBM serious about de-bloating their software to make it more light-weight? And do they have any feel for whether that could make a 1% difference or a 20% difference to desktop/laptop/server power usage? – 08:14

Is it more efficient to build features into hardware or software? A lot of the enterprise monitoring software that gets installed to instrument PCs/servers runs continuously. Better to make lighter hardware modules to do the same? Is there a day when a Linux-on-a-chip (etc) will be embedded in PCs/servers as a more energy-efficient method of performing these tasks? (Bring back the PIC chip!) – 10:28

Jim Spath
We’re moving toward more virtualization, currently running IBM AIX on Power5 LPARs, starting to run virtual CPUs, memory, storage and I/O. What are the limiting factors for software licensing in such a landscape? It seems we save money on hardware but pay more for software that could run in different frames.
I think Linux is a partial answer, but there are corporate concerns with having multiple OS images, not to mention uneasiness about GNU and BSD license models. – 14:23

Jim Hughes
I see plenty of power management software going into desktop and laptop PCs (clock slowing, fans that run only when necessary etc.), but precious little into servers.

As many enterprises appear to be shuffling ever more equipment into noisy, over heating server rooms, surely power (and noise) management should be a big issue here.

Are IBM ignoring servers because they’re hidden away from all but the long suffering sys admins? – 17:01

Ed Gemmell
Of the $1 billion IBM said they would invest in Green IT. How much has already been invested (can we see it in the financials?) and how much has been in Software. What do you have to show for the $1billion so far? – 21:31

Uldis Boj?rs
It would be interesting to learn more about what is IBM’s experience and lessons learned in enterprise use of new social media and collaboration tools such as microblogging and virtual 3D worlds. – 25:58

Download the entire interview here
(25.1mb mp3)

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Any questions for Vik Chandra?

Questions
Photo Credit oberazzi (Tim O’Brien)

We have started a podcast series here on GreenMonk. As part of the process, when I can, I will be posting ahead of time who I will be interviewing. This will give readers an opportunity to have me put questions on their behalf during the podcast.

The first such interview will take place next Wed, August 13th and the interviewee will be IBM’s Vik Chandra. According to IBM Vik

is currently responsible for Market Management and Strategy for IBM software offerings that enable organizations to reduce their energy consumption and environmental impact. IBM’s software group offers middleware from its Tivoli, Rational, WebSphere, Lotus and Information Management brands. Core capabilities include service management from Tivoli, application servers and runtime infrastructure from WebSphere, database, information management and business intelligence from Information Management, collaboration from Lotus and software development and delivery from Rational.

We will be discussing ways in which IBM software can be used by companies to reduce their carbon footprint.

If you have any questions/suggestions you’d like me to put to Vik in the podcast, please leave them in a comment to this post or email them to [email protected] before Wed August 13th at 2pm GMT.