4-page Case Study - Posted 2/21/2011
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Sprint Nextel

Sprint Estimates Savings of $1.3 Million Through Centralized Power Management of PCs

Sprint Nextel searched for a way to advance its commitment to environmental sustainability while reducing operating costs. The company evaluated upgrading to Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 to take advantage of its centralized power management capabilities. After conducting numerous tests and achieving significant reductions in power use and related CO2 emissions as a participant in an early adopter program, the company moved forward with a full deployment of the solution. Sprint has applied the technology to manage more than 50,000 PCs and is using the solution to collect power consumption data. Beginning in 2011, it will use this data to inform the development of a comprehensive power management plan. Now, Sprint estimates cost savings over 12 months of U.S.$1.37 million based on reduced power consumption across its PC infrastructure.

Situation
Headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, Sprint Nextel is among the top three wireless telecommunications providers in the United States, competing head-to-head with such industry giants as AT&T Mobility and Verizon. The company serves some 40 million customers nationwide across its mobile voice, data, and Internet services networks.

Sprint has a solid track record as a developer of advanced consumer products and supporting technologies. For example, Sprint is widely known for pioneering national and international push-to-talk capabilities on its phones. And, in 2010, the company became the first national wireless carrier in the United States to provide high-speed mobile broadband, or “4G,” coverage to its customers.

One of the “Greenest” Companies in the United States
In addition to its commitment to engineering and deploying innovative telecommunications products, Sprint is recognized for its leadership in implementing companywide environmental sustainability initiatives. In fact, Sprint placed sixth overall in Newsweek magazine’s “2010 Green Rankings,” a survey of more than 500 of the largest corporations in the United States; it was the only telecommunications company to rank among the top 50 on this list.

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* When we got a closer look at some of the new features, particularly in regard to power management, we were blown away. *

Eric Gabrielson
IT Systems Integrator, Sprint

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The company’s notable achievements and goals in the area of sustainability include cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 9 percent from 2007 to 2009, and pursuing a 90 percent reuse and recycling rate for all of the devices it sells by 2017.

“Sustainability is part of the philosophy of the company,” says Eric Gabrielson, IT Systems Integrator at Sprint. “Every department is encouraged to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of its major business activities.”

Opportunity to Shrink Energy Use, Save Costs
The company saw a substantial opportunity to shrink carbon emissions, reduce power consumption, and lower energy costs in its IT operations. Gabrielson is part of a team that helps manage more than 50,000 desktop and portable computers across the company, including upwards of 25,000 PCs in retail and call center locations. “We knew that improving the energy efficiency of such a large number of computers could yield significant savings,” says Gabrielson.

Need for Improved Visibility into Power Consumption
For more than two years, Sprint relied on Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to track its IT inventory, monitor the performance of desktop and server systems across the enterprise, and automate software distribution. While this solution provided a set of centralized tools for such functions as tracking PC compliance with network security settings, it lacked rich power management capabilities. “As a result, we didn’t have a cohesive policy when it came to optimizing power settings on our PCs,” says Gabrielson.

The IT team configured baseline settings in the operating system image deployed on some PCs to turn off monitors during nonpeak hours. It also created Group Policy objects in the company’s Active Directory service to define power settings for other collections of PCs. “In either case, we had no way of knowing if the configured power settings were actually being applied because we didn’t have a centralized mechanism for collecting power consumption data,” says Gabrielson.

Gabrielson’s team manages the distribution of a large volume of software updates each day to computers across the company’s various departments. But it has been particularly challenging to balance the need to frequently deploy updates to PCs in its call center and retail environments against the goal to maximize power savings for these computers. “We typically have a window of about five hours each day—from one to six in the morning—when these machines aren’t being used,” says Gabrielson. “Because we need to push updates to these machines at odd hours, and we didn’t have the ability to schedule power downs, we asked employees to leave them on at all times. This obviously limited the power savings we could achieve for about half our total PC population.”

To address these challenges, Sprint searched for a solution that would enable enhanced power management capabilities for its PCs and improved reporting on energy consumption by IT assets across the enterprise.

Solution
In early 2010, leaders at Sprint, including Gabrielson, began considering a move to Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3. They were interested in several new capabilities and feature enhancements, including:

Centralized power management—Enables configuration of standard Windows power settings across a number of computers and provides centralized tools for monitoring power consumption and computer activity down to a single computer.

Enhanced operating system deployment toolsIncludes prestaged media, which offers the ability to package operating system image components into a single common image, which companies can provide to OEMs and vendors to save time on deployments to new hardware.

Improved scale and performanceExtends the number of supported clients to 300,000 per site and provides faster updating of changes to Active Directory Domain Services and collection membership through the Delta Discovery and Dynamic Collection Evaluation features.

In the summer of 2010, the company decided to participate in an early adopter program for System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3. “When we got a closer look at some of the new features, particularly in regard to power management, we were blown away,” says Gabrielson.

Power Policy Testing
To establish a baseline for the amount of energy that its computers were using, the Sprint team evaluated the total power consumption of 5,000 PCs. All of the computers in the test were running the Windows XP operating system. The team discovered that—over a period of 23 days—these systems used an average of approximately 62 kilowatt hours of power per device.

By using the Power Management Client Agent in System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3, Gabrielson’s team defined a new power policy to control power settings that put monitors and devices into sleep mode when they are not being used. As shown in Figure 1, after a similar period of 23 days with these rules applied across all 5,000 systems, the team found that these systems used approximately 37 kilowatt hours of power per device.

graph of average power consumption before and after solution
Figure 1 – Sprint achieved a 40 percent reduction in power consumption by applying
power policies through Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager R3.
This represents a potential savings of 25 kilowatt hours of power per computer per month across the company’s entire PC environment.

Deployment and Data Collection
After witnessing the impressive performance of the solution in a test environment, the Sprint team moved forward in November 2010 with the deployment of System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 to its production environment.

The company has applied the solution to more than 150 servers and approximately 52,000 client systems. Throughout the holiday shopping season from late November until the end of December, the IT team at Sprint typically refrains from making any major changes to computers companywide. Gabrielson is using this period to aggregate information on such power consumption trends as computer usage variance by time of day, which computers optimally support more restrictive settings, and the actual cost of power by region. “We’re looking to take all of the rich data that we’ve been able to gather to implement a comprehensive power plan by the end of the first quarter of 2011,” says Gabrielson.

Evaluation of Additional Features and Technologies
In addition to its use of power management capabilities, Sprint is looking to capitalize on other enhancements to the solution, such as Dynamic Collection Evaluation. This feature helps administrators more easily manage settings for groups of PCs by updating collection memberships with only newly discovered resources. As a result, administrators can more quickly target new machines for distribution of business applications, patches, and other software updates.

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* Insight into power activities gives us a window into how our environment works on a lot of different levels. This is invaluable to us—both in terms of our ability to make adjustments in real-time and plan for the future. *

Eric Gabrielson
IT Systems Integrator, Sprint

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Sprint is relying on System Center Configuration Manager to manage the implementation of Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) technology. It is using App-V to convert 2,000 traditional application packages to virtualized instances. “We’ll be able to use on-demand streaming in App-V to shorten software distribution cycles and better track application usage,” says Gabrielson.

And, in 2011, Sprint plans to use the solution to manage its companywide deployment of the Windows 7 operating system. “In the past, we mainly relied on internally-developed tools to configure and distribute PC images for large-scale deployments,” says Gabrielson. “Now, because it gives us a much richer set of tools and scripts, we’ll be able to manage the entire process from within System Center Configuration Manager.”

Benefits
By upgrading to Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3, Sprint now benefits from deep insight into the power consumption performance of more than 50,000 PCs. In a few clicks, the IT team can report on the amount and cost of the power used by its computers, and drill down to see the activity of a single computer.

In concert with providing comprehensive data collection capabilities, the solution gives the IT team the power to quickly apply and enforce intelligent power management settings based on this information. “Insight into power activities gives us a window into how our environment works on a lot of different levels,” says Gabrielson. “This is invaluable to us—both in terms of our ability to make adjustments in real-time and plan for the future.”

Estimated Cost Savings of $1.37 Million Over 12 Months
In its performance testing of 5,000 PCs in the summer of 2010, Gabrielson’s team calculated monthly savings of 25 kilowatt-hours of power a month for each computer, which represents an aggregate savings of 1.5 million kilowatt hours of power a year for this collection.

graph of power environmental impact by day
Figure 2 – The company will use the solution to track the environmental impact
of its PC use.
Based on a rate of .09 cents per kilowatt hour, Gabrielson calculated that the company could achieve a total annual savings for these 5,000 computers of U.S.$137,000. And, when these projected savings are applied across the company’s more than 50,000 PCs, the company estimates a total annual cost reduction of U.S.$1.37 million.

Projected to Reduce CO2 Output by Up to 1,000 Metric Tons a Year
Sprint estimates that by significantly reducing the amount of power consumed by its PCs, it can lower CO2 emissions attributable to IT assets by up to 1,000 metric tons a year. This estimate is a projection based on the actual kilowatt hour reductions that the company measured during its participation in the early adopter program. Sprint uses the standard set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for CO2 output relative to kilowatt hours of power usage. “Now the IT team can demonstrate its contribution to not only improving the bottom line, but also our commitment to supporting our company’s sustainability efforts,” says Gabrielson.

Increased Competitive Advantage
By participating in the Microsoft early adopter program, Sprint gained prerelease access to the software. After consulting with technical experts from Microsoft and running numerous tests using its own systems, Sprint completed a full deployment of the solution ahead of its busiest season of the year.

Now, the company is positioned to roll out a comprehensive power policy for all of its PCs starting in January of 2011. “Choosing to be an early adopter of System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 has given us at least a nine-month head start in terms of the planning and execution of our power management strategy,” says Gabrielson.

Enhanced IT Flexibility and Control
Through its use of Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3, Gabrielson and his team have greater control in balancing software distribution tasks against power management goals. For example, now the team can centrally manage the scheduling of power-down periods for computers in the company’s retail and call center locations. “We can finally turn off those computers for a few hours each day to save power, and then use functionality in the solution to wake the computers up when we need to install critical updates,” says Gabrielson. “We never had that kind of flexibility before.”

Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization
With infrastructure optimization, you can build a secure, well-managed, and dynamic core IT infrastructure that can reduce overall IT costs, make better use of resources, and become a strategic asset for the business. The Infrastructure Optimization model—with basic, standardized, rationalized, and dynamic levels—was developed by Microsoft using industry best practices and Microsoft’s own experiences with enterprise customers. The Infrastructure Optimization model provides a maturity framework that is flexible and easily used as a benchmark for technical capability and business value.

For more information about Microsoft infrastructure optimization, go to:
www.microsoft.com/io  

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Sprint Nextel products and services, call (800) 927-2199 or visit the website at:
www.sprint.com

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 40000 employees

Organization Profile

Sprint Nextel provides a full range of communications services to more than 40 million customers. The Kansas-based firm is also recognized as one of the greenest companies in the United States.


Business Situation

To further reduce the company’s environmental impact while trimming costs, leaders searched for a solution to enable enhanced power management of PCs and improved reporting on energy consumption.


Solution

Sprint upgraded to Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3, deploying the technology to manage 50,000 PCs.


Benefits

  • Saves U.S.$1.3 million
  • Reduces CO2 output
  • Boosts IT asset control
  • Strengthens competitive edge


Software and Services
Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3

Vertical Industries
Telecommunications

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Business Productivity

Languages
English

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