Computer power use unknown

New Zealand companies are in the dark about how much they are spending to power their computer systems, according to a study by Japan’s Fujitsu.

Only two out of 50 New Zealand chief information officers surveyed by the firm for an annual ‘‘global benchmarking study’’ knew their computer power bill.

That compared with 23.1 per cent of the overall sample of 1200 technology bosses from eight countries that participated in the survey and put New Zealand last out of those eight.

Sustainability consultant Lee Stewart, a Kiwi working for Fujitsu in Australia, said bigger companies were more likely to collect the information, so the result could in part reflect the small size of most New Zealand businesses.

Other mitigating features were that most of New Zealand’s power is generated from renewables and the country’s temperate climate means not all data centres require power-hungry air-conditioning.

But Stewart said New Zealand’s showing was still disappointing given computer equipment was the main consumer of power within many services firms. ‘‘We are a bit behind.’’ Companies were often putting more effort into other initiatives that had less impact and a longer pay-back, such as switching to more efficient lighting, he said.

Stewart said he was aware of some companies that had kept computer servers running for years that were not doing anything, because they weren’t sure what they did and were afraid to turn them off.

Fujitsu said organisations in New Zealand - and overall in the eight countries it surveyed - were paying less attention to sustainability issues than they were when the company conducted the same survey last year. That followed similar declines in 2011 and 2010.

‘‘Organisations have reduced efforts in areas that have typically been considered ‘quick wins’ for improving ICT sustainability,’’ it said.

Fujitsu pointed to Meridian Energy as an example of a company that was making an effort, for example by replacing desktop computers with ‘‘energy-efficient laptops’’. Fujitsu ranked Meridian in 166th place among 1000 firms for which it has conducted energy audits.

Kiwibank last year estimated it would save more than $24,000 a year after installing ‘‘Nightwatchman’’ software that automatically boots up and shuts down computers before and after staff arrive and leave work each day. HSBC New Zealand also uses the software.

Japan was the ‘clear leader’’ in Fujitsu’s sustainability study, with 38.5 per cent of its ICT departments ‘‘taking control of power budgeting and consumption’’. Fujitsu ranked India second.

The Dominion Post