Top 12 Green IT Products

Our survey of nearly 100 enterprises reveals the most popular ways to cut energy costs, promote efficiency and embrace `green' practices and policies.

Performance-per-watt is the new metric when it comes to buying servers.

All of the server vendors mentioned by survey respondents – Dell, Fujitsu, HP and IBM – are designing their products for max efficiency. That means everything from the chipset to fans to power supplies to airflow. One tip from the experts: if you're buying an energy efficient server, make sure your utilization rate is high, so you take full advantage of the server's capabilities.

VMware is runaway favorite

VMware is runaway favorite

Server virtualization is not something you can see when you stroll through the data center. But it's by far the most popular way for enterprises to go green . After all, doing the same work on fewer physical machines creates all kinds of benefits in terms of reducing power and cooling, reducing the overall data center footprint and avoiding capital costs for new servers and new data center space.

Always-on servers aren't always a good idea

Desktop power management is a well-accepted way to save money. After all, when users aren't there, why should their PCs still be on. But the same principle also applies to the data center. If servers are not being used, why not put them into power-saving mode.

Servers aren't the only physical devices in the data center than can benefit from green technologies

If you put together a set of storage technologies – archiving, compression, de-duplication, snapshots, thin provisioning — you can significantly reduce your storage footprint in the data center. And that increases utilization, reduces power consumption and cuts the actual floor space required for storage. Reader picks include Compellent , EMC , Hitachi , NetApp and FlexVol.

Automated tools can save companies big bucks

This software automatically places PCs and monitors into sleep mode or hibernation mode, saving an estimated $25 to $75 annually per desktop on electricity costs. And putting desktops into low-power mode also reduced heat, thereby saving another $5 to $25 a year per desktop in cooling costs. Survey respondents cited 1E Night Watchman, ScriptLogic Desktop Authority , Symantec Altiris Client Management Suite and Verdiem Surveyor, along with Windows 7's built-in power management tool.

Flat-screen monitors

Flat-screen monitors

Those old CRT monitors may be paid for, but they're costing you a bundle in electricity. If all monitors sold in the U.S. met Energy Star requirements, energy savings would hit around $1 billion and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from nearly 1.5 million vehicles. Plus, the new flat-screen models look cool and they take up less real estate on your desk.

Sure-fire energy saver blocks hot air from moving back into front of server rack

It's a pretty simply concept. If you've got an unused slot in one of your server racks, hot air can sweep back through that open rack to the front of the server rack, defeating the whole cold aisle/hot aisle airflow system that basically pushes hot air out the back of the server racks. Blanking panels simply snap onto the back of the unused rack.

This is your data center on CRAC

The new generation of computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units address the big energy hog in the data center. These units use advanced airflow techniques and even take advantage of cool outside air in order to slash cooling costs.

Real-time monitoring is the key to an efficient data center

By installing multiple sensors in key locations in the data center, and linking those sensors back to an infrastructure management system, IT can achieve automated data center efficiency. That means the system can control power, cooling, security and environmental systems. It can produce alerts and deliver reports aimed at maximizing data center performance.

Telepresence, video collaboration and videoconferencing save on travel costs

Telepresence, video collaboration and videoconferencing save on travel costs

Any time you can get employees to avoid the friendly skies, you save money – and reduce carbon emissions. According to Nemertes Research, 82% of companies are using room-based videoconferencing, but only 30% are allowing desktop video. And full telepresence is only deployed in 21% of organizations. But any form of video collaboration is a green strategy that offers quick payback.

E-waste and IT asset recycling

E-waste and IT asset recycling policies are a challenge

With all of the other technologies on our list, saving cold hard cash and doing the right thing for the environment go hand in hand. But not so much with recycling, where doing the right thing can be costly. Still, our respondents were committed to making sure that old computers, cell phones, and other electronics did not end up in the company dumpster, but were disposed of properly. Top picks include Allied Computer Brokers, Converge, Intechra Group and Redemtech.

Saving trees moves beyond just efficient printing

The proverbial low-hanging fruit when it comes to saving trees is reducing paper waste at the printer. The next step is using content management systems to move information around electronically. The notion of going paperless has been around for a long time, but it's now gaining more traction as companies see the cost and environmental benefits of reduced reliance on paper. Top picks include CSC Enterprise Print Solutions, EMC Documentum, HP Secure Print Advantage, Notable Solutions AutoStore, Xerox Enterprise Print Services and SMARTdocument Travel.