Today, IBM announced its acquisition of BigFix, an established client and security management suite vendor. Beyond gaining BigFix’s core competencies in securing and managing client devices and servers, the acquisition adds PC power management* to IBM’s already broad portfolio of green IT products and services.

So why is PC power management important to IBM customers?

While IBM already offers its customers energy-efficient servers and their “Tivoli Monitoring for Energy Management” software for the data center, bigger opportunities for savings exist across distributed IT assets, like PCs, monitors, phones, and printers. In fact, Forrester finds that distributed IT assets consume 55% of IT’s total energy footprint versus only 45% in the data center. And the extent of these savings can add up. For example, BigFix cites a large US public school district with 80,000 PCs saving $2.1 million in annual energy costs (or $26 per PC per year) using BigFix’s Power Management software.

PC power management also plays well into IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative, which includes products and services aimed at Smarter Buildings. In conversations I’ve had with clients, 40% of their office building’s total energy consumption comes from “plug load” – like all of the distributed IT assets office employees rely on every day.

It’s worth noting that the PC power management landscape is getting quite crowded. Existing client and security management vendors, like Microsoft, Symantec, and 1E, along with pure-plays, such as Verdiem (who recently inked a partnership with Cisco and their EnergyWise solution) and eiPower, all offer robust PC power management software solutions. However, Forrester finds that the established client and security management suite vendors have an upper hand since their agents are already installed on their customers’ PCs, making deployment simpler and cheaper (from discounting). 

* PC power management refers to the practice of reducing the energy consumption of PCs and monitors by enabling lower power states during periods of inactivity (e.g., nights, weekends, holidays, and workday breaks).