Computer battery life, power management key challenges for enterprises

Computers need better ways to save power

Creating feasible power-saving technology has been a constant challenge for technology vendors. Even as electricity bills rise across North America, there’s been little relief for consumers who have to frequently plug in laptops and mobile devices that can’t last for more than a few hours on a single lithium-ion battery charge.

On top of that, desktop PCs are still a major energy drain. With organizations already looking forward to the possible 2015 release of Windows 9, one of the key features that they’re looking for is better power management, which continues to lag comparable Mac models. Fortunately, companies can already get a handle on PCs by using software that provides central management of endpoints and detailed reporting on usage patterns.

Organizations looking for better battery life, improved power management for Windows
For years, original equipment manufacturers have focused on upgrading processor speeds rather than optimizing battery life. Even if they had invested more time and money into battery technology, it’s not clear that they could have come up with products that would have improved and iterated as quickly as computer chips have, due to high costs and extensive regulation.

In Silicon Valley, there are very few research firms primarily focused on batteries. One of the most prominent ones went bankrupt due to the slow rollout of electric vehicles, and companies such as automaker Tesla have opted to go with standard lithium-ion battery packs rather than next-generation technology that is still a ways off.

Vendors have explored creative solutions to the battery conundrum, looking to hybrid solar technology and floating the prospect of devices that could pull power from cellular, Wi-Fi or television signals. Still, a real breakthrough will likely take a while to emerge. Because an unstable battery is essentially a ticking bomb, regulators pour over any new product, slowing down the time to market.

There have been some positive developments, however. The release of OS X Mavericks boosted the battery life of many Macs, such as the already impressive 2013 Macbook Air. Getting the most out of a battery charge is increasingly important now that workflows are distributed over a wider range of devices, such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. Enterprises need a way to cut costs for large hardware deployments.

While they don’t face the specific battery challenges of portable hardware, desktop PCs aren’t always the best at conserving power, either. Windows 8 was a big step forward from Windows 7 in how it managed power usage, but it hasn’t reached parity with Mavericks, which runs tasks in clumps to minimize energy consumption and leaves the system idle for as long as possible. According, some observers have pushed for improvements in the next major version.

With power management software, enterprises don’t have to wait for battery or power consumption innovations that may not arrive for years. They can ensure that their endpoint fleets can meet the demands of a modern computing environment. This solution analyzes a variety of factors before putting a machine into sleep mode so as not to interrupt critical tasks. It runs in the background to stay out of the way, yet can generate detailed Web-accessible reports to provide granular insight into savings over time.

Scott Cornell

When he’s not knee deep in blogging and all things tech, Scott spends his free time playing ultimate Frisbee and watching foreign films. An expert in emerging tech trends, Scott always has his ear to ground for breaking news related to IT security.