A Small Business Guide to Green IT - Page 2

By Pedro Hernandez
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Saving Money with Energy Management

Once you purchase your Energy Star or EPEAT rated computers, it's time to maximize their energy-saving potential. Fortunately, the following tips work on any type of PC.

For Windows 7 systems, users can save energy using a "balanced" power plan that dims the display and puts the system to sleep after a predetermined time. But IT pros may want to dive deeper and select more aggressive options.

Similarly, Mac users can save energy and extend battery life by visiting the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences. It's a simple matter of nudging some sliders left or right to determine when the computer and/or display should go into sleep mode after a period of inactivity. Users can also set up sleep and wake schedules for predictable time-based environments.

If you manage more than a handful of PCs, configuring each and everyone can quickly become a chore -- not to mention that users could tinker with the settings and undo your work. In that case, consider centralized PC power management software.

There are many solutions available, but 1E's NightWatchman stands apart with support for Macs and Windows PCs as well as a wealth of options. For Windows-only shops, consider PowerMinder. Tech-savvy sorts can set up group policies in Active Directory to enforce power management settings over Windows systems on their networks.

Cloudify Your Apps

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) products let small businesses tap into IT resources that were once reserved for large enterprises, minus the hefty electric bill. With broadband access and subscription payments, SMBs can have data backup, collaboration, email, productivity software and a whole host of applications without deploying a single server.

Generally, that means big savings in server hardware costs and in the power required to keep them running. Other benefits typically include go-anywhere access to your data, enterprise-grade availability and data protection, mobile device support, regular upgrades and enhanced disaster recovery.

Of course, it's only natural to be on the fence about surrendering your sensitive data up to the cloud. Fear not, this Small Business Computing Guide that tackles "4 Mature Cloud Services Your SMB Can Adopt Today" will point you toward what types of workloads you can start transitioning to the cloud without worry.

For more advanced and ambitious cloud adoption strategies, there's an app guide for that, too.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is the lifeblood of many sales organizations. CRM cloud services providers set up with offerings from Salesforce.com, Zoho and Avidian. Even small business bookkeeping and accounting is getting in on the act with products like Sage One.

Before you start planning your next hardware and software purchase, check out the cloud services landscape. Chances are that there are several opportunities to retire a server, save on systems upkeep and management and spend more of your time on what really matters: running your business.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on June 13, 2012
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