by Lisa Banks

City of Melbourne employs the NightWatchman

Jan 06, 2011

Ashe Potter is not only the technical architect at the City of Melbourne; he has been described as a green IT champion by his colleagues. That’s why Potter sought out a wake-on-LAN solution for the council’s 1000 PCs that would save money and electricity.

“We spoke to a few parties and one of them said ‘go and use NightWatchman’,” Potter said. “Rather than…implementing software updates overnight and inadvertently having the power on fleet-wide, [we looked at] a solution that would allow us to power off machines as soon as we updated.”

Potter was after ease of integration with the council’s existing information technology, particularly Microsoft’s Systems Management Server and System Center Configuration Manager. The deployments means the city’s PCs can be switched on at night to perform regular security updates and then turned off, saving open documents so staff members do not lose their work in the process.

“We [employed] a script acknowledgment that directly interacts with the application,” Potter said. “When people leave for the day, they [may] have Word and Excel documents open, browser windows and different things. NightWatchman says ‘you have an unsaved document, I understand it’s from Microsoft Word, I’ll save that, cache it, and get it when the power is next turned on’.”

Since the City of Melbourne moved to NightWatchman in 2005, it has saved $175,000 in energy costs while maintaining a 98 per cent success rate with its fleet devices each night.

“We can wake up machines remotely, in terms of waking up every fleet device, [and] do software updates with the power off.” Potter said the deployment was swift with only a few bumps in the road.

“At its core, NightWatchman can test and deploy within a matter of days and not weeks,” he said. “The only bump was at the very first with a small performance hiccup, and that was a late misunderstanding on our behalf of how the things should operate.” The NightWatchman project has paved the way for several other green IT deployments, including a move to desktop virtualisation which is next on Potter’s IT agenda.

“It was a quick and easy win to get that first run on the board,” he said. “Going beyond that we replaced our CRT screens with LCD screens, replaced all of our fleet devices with ultra-energy efficient desktops, and we are now looking ahead towards desktop virtualisation and getting the central management in place for those much bigger wins.”