Your phone doesn't need as much power as it's getting.

Verdiem, which makes software that curbs power consumption to PCs, will release a version of its Surveyor software that will reduce the amount of power going to IP phones, said CEO Jeremy Jaech in an interview, while in San Francisco to speak at this week's Cleantech Forum.

The software, which will be released later this year, will also allow large companies to curb the power that is being fed into network equipment. Last year, Jaech also discussed controlling lights and other functions inside buildings, but at the moment he admits it's quite a crowded market already. More targeted marketing? Sounds like it.

The initial customers for phones will likely come through an alliance with Cisco, he said. In January, Cisco unveiled EnergyWise, a software console/application platform that will let institutions control power to networking equipment and ultimately other devices (see Cisco Jumps Into Energy Management). Verdiem is one of Cisco's first partners in promoting EnergyWise.

Surveyor essentially lets IT managers put PCs and other network-connected devices into sleep mode, turn them off entirely, or turn them on for brief periods to deploy software patches. The software saves an estimated $30 to $60 a year in power costs when it comes to PCs. The software/services offered by Verdiem comes to around $15 to $20 per PC per year. Thus, clients see a return on investment in about six to nine months on PCs, he said. Many utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric, also offer rebates to companies that install centralized power management software like Verdiem's, which speeds payback time (see Verdiem Moving From PCs to Energy Management).

Employees can often be blamed for excess power consumption. Many leave their PCs on after work or readjust their sleep mode settings so that their PCs don't go to sleep. Excess power consumption, however, can often be attributed to the corporation itself. Many large corporations ask employees to leave their PCs on at night so IT managers can manage patches. 

PCs and monitors consume around 40 percent of the power that goes to computers and networks. Data centers account for 23 percent.

Phones consume about 15 percent of that power. The rest goes to switches, printers and other devices.

Hence, the opportunity for phones "is not nearly as big as it is with computers but it is worth doing," he said.

Phones, though, also come with their own particular challenges. With PCs, individuals are willing to tolerate those extra seconds it takes a PC to come out of sleep mode after they return to their desk. Slight pauses like that likely won't be acceptable on the phone. Phones also have to be on constant alert. It is much more of a two-way device.

Power savings is also tough. LCD screens and hard drives gobble up much of the power that goes into a PC. Phones don't have drives and the screens on most are somewhat small. Still, one can imagine a system that would power down a phone after an employee leaves from work and then only turns on after they return the next day. If an employee works eight hours a day that means the phone will be idle for 16 hours. (The phone is also inactive for long stretches of time during the day.)

Although it initially targeted government agencies with Surveyor, Verdiem has shifted its customer base to large corporations. Why? While some government agencies can have 20,000 to 30,000 PCs or other devices, most are much smaller. The average corporate customer that Verdiem seeks now has about at least 10,000 seats.

The company right now will not try to enter the market for controlling power to data centers. Nonetheless, it will look for deals in the future that will allow people that control data center power (like SynapSense, hypothetically) to feed their data into the Surveyor console. Naturally, the data center control companies will also try to get the PC power consumption companies to feed into their consoles.

Verdiem, Jaech added, will also likely be cash flow positive sometime this year.