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State of Indiana: Standardizing PCs helped save money, reduce carbon emissions

Ranked No. 5, this state government slashed its desk-side visits by using remote support, reaping six-figure savings.

By Mary K. Pratt
October 25, 2010 12:01 AM ET

Computerworld - When Mitch Daniels took office as governor of Indiana in 2005, he created the Office of Technology and charged it with creating more-efficient IT operations. That mandate meant improving IT services as well as creating a more environmentally friendly technology platform, says state CIO Brian Arrowood.

State IT leaders have made important strides in those areas and have earned recognition for their green-IT accomplishments. They continue on that path, showing that being green in the environmental sense is smart in the financial sense, too.

"They go hand in hand. If it's saving resources of some sort, then there is a value proposition from a financial standpoint, too," Arrowood says, noting that he uses the financial benefits of green IT to get approval for such tech projects.

Doug Washburn, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., says most organizations, particularly in this economy, sell green-IT projects on their financial merits.

"Our data shows that when asked what is the primary motivator for green IT, hands down the No. 1 motivator is to reduce energy-related operating expenses," he says, adding that organizations put cutting overall operating expenses and capital expenses next on the list of motivators.

It's not surprising, then, that the Indiana Office of Technology can continue with green initiatives even during this recession by smartly packaging projects as money-saving programs, Washburn says.

IT Director Paul Baltzell says the green initiatives undertaken in the past five years by the IT team -- which supports more than 80 executive branch agencies, nearly 27,000 PCs and one data center -- have yielded significant savings.

Case in point: The decision to standardize PCs throughout those agencies made it possible to offer centralized and remote support, and to deploy centralized power management. By identifying and resolving hardware problems remotely, technicians can eliminate an estimated 80% of desk-side visits, which is projected to reduce carbon emissions by 856,286 pounds over four years and save nearly $200,000 in the first year of full activation.

Green Teamwork

IT Director Paul Baltzell has been pleasantly surprised by the way people in other parts of the Indiana state government have reacted to the IT department's green initiatives. "I thought we'd have more pushback," he says, "but people have been really supportive of it. We all have kids, so we want to do the best we can to take care of this place."

Efforts to consolidate and virtualize the 2,500 servers in the data center are yielding more gains, Baltzell says. There are now 708 virtual servers, accounting for 30% of the data center; efforts to increase that figure are ongoing.

Baltzell says the IT department wants to invest in other technologies that will produce both financial and environmental savings. For example, IT is looking at print management software that would automatically set print jobs to perform at the lowest cost per page as well as track printing use by department and employee. (Baltzell says such tracking allows managers to spot potential excess printing.)

Meanwhile, Arrowood says his staff is working on projects designed to save money and increase service yet also produce green benefits. Those projects include making more state services available online, which reduces paper consumption and travel requirements.

"Green just happens to be a natural byproduct of overall efficiencies," he says.

The projects undertaken by the department during the past two years have improved the productivity of the IT staff and generated annual savings of about $13.9 million, a figure that includes savings from reduced energy consumption.

Next: No. 6: Allstate Insurance uses everything from virtual servers to teleconferences to save energy.

Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at marykpratt@verizon.net.

Read more about Data Center in Computerworld's Data Center Topic Center.



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