Recruitment firm Reed has moved most of its staff from PCs onto thin client terminals as it bids to become carbon neutral.

Recruitment firm Reed has moved most of its staff from PCs onto thin client terminals as it bids to become carbon neutral.

The company, which has around 300 high street recruitment offices across the UK, has moved more than 95% of its 5,000 end-users onto thin client terminals in the past year and is aiming boost that to 98% at least, since most of its remaining PC-using staff could make the transition. The decision to move to thin client was taken during a technology refresh last year.


5,000 IT users

300 branches

IT department – 30 main staff and 30 developers

Main software: Microsoft Windows, NetApp, Lotus Notes, and Oracle 11.i

VMware virtualisation

64 bit AMD-based HP blade servers

Using Wyse V30 thin client

Reed is using Wyse V30 as its thin client, connected to 64 bit HP blade servers. Around 50 blades are in use, with a hundred users to each unit. NetApp software is being used to centralise the data.

Right from the start of the PC-to-thin client migration cost savings have been significant, the company said. Per work station, Reed is using 17.2 watts of power each day on average, against 180 watts per PC. This 90% reduction in usage was made all the more dramatic by the fact that PCs were being left on overnight to enable security updates, whereas the thin client terminals are only on for 50 hours per week on average.

Reed is also attempting to generate some of its own electricity through renewable means, known as microgeneration, said IT head Sean Whetstone.

Whetstone told Computerworld UK that Reed's thin client programme was just the latest of numerous ongoing efforts underway to make the company green, after two years ago setting itself a target to become carbon-neutral and feel the benefit of the accompanying energy savings.

The other key green IT move underway is Reed's virtualisation programme, which is using VMware technology to reduce the firm's server infrastructure from over 300 to below 60. Whetstone said Reed was also experimenting with cooling its datacentres less than before since “most servers are now designed to run at more normal temperatures”. Reed now keeps its datacentres at between 22 and 23 degrees, as opposed to 18 to 20 degrees it originally targeted, while ensuring any hotspots are cooled more efficiently.

“It was a no-brainer to do all of this,” he said. “The management was very committed to being green anyway, and the cost arguments were very strong as we already have much lower electricity bills.”

The company is also engaging employees in the energy-saving drive by displaying electricity usage in the office for everyone to see.

“No board is going to argue with you on reducing electricity bills by using thin client technology and virtualising servers,” Whetstone advised other businesses. “And as long as you give extra flexibility and functionality to users, and the incentives to save electricity, then you are going to succeed.” He encouraged firms to consider replacing PCs with thin clients when they reached their refresh cycle, to avoid unnecessary disposal of PCs and unnecessary cost.

But with microgeneration, he said, it could take longer to produce a return on investment. “Perhaps we should lobby government to create incentives for businesses to do this,” he added.

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Also read:

Government urged to standardise carbon footprint reporting

IT can reduce a company's carbon footprint – Gartner

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