Zombies Are Feeding on Data Center Energy–No, Seriously
According to a recent tech report coming out of Stanford, 1 in 3 physical data center servers are dead—but staying on life support in a zombie-like state by feeding on energy. These ‘zombie’ servers continue to consume power despite not using their brainpower for any workload output.
While the data-center zombie apocalypse would make for a rather boring blockbuster (with the exception of its inevitable intrigue within rather geeky tech circles), it is a real problem for data center managers.
The only upside of these functionally-dead servers is that the quantity of these energy hogs has flat-lined since 2008—so they don’t seem to be contagious.
Does your Data Center have Zombies?
A ‘zombie server’ is defined as any server that continues to use energy (aka not physically dead), but that hasn’t produced any information or activity for more than 6 months.
In order to track down these functionally dead servers, managers need to proactively track server workload, and not just power consumption. Without proactive workload tracking in place, these dead servers will continue to eat up power—unnoticed—until they suffer an actual malfunction. Malfunctions of dead servers generally need to be hardware-based since they aren’t really performing tasks.
Proactive workload tracking is the issue. The creator of the Stanford report, Jonathan Koomey, wrote about the startlingly-high percentage of zombie servers being “a massive indictment of how data centers are managed and operated…it’s not a technical issue as much as a management issue.”
The Benefits of Fighting Zombies
While Koomey’s report found that roughly 30% of all servers are operating as undead, Uptime put that figure at only 20%. Still, whether it’s 20% or 30%, there are significant benefits to eliminating them. Just ask AOL.
AOL recently purged five facilities of 14,805 functionally-dead servers—saving themselves a whopping $10million. Beginning the year with over 33,000 servers, AOL made a drastic improvement by deadheading their zombie servers, which helped them reach their goal of closing two data centers.
In addition to the millions of dollars saved, they were also able to reduce their overall carbon footprint by 35%…in a single year. That’s a reduction of over 36,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.
If by some miracle the entirety of American data centers did an AOL-style purge the data center industry could save $3.8billion in energy (about 39 billion kilowatt hours)…enough to power 3.5 million homes.
How to Purge your Zombies
If the savings illustrated by AOL (and a number of other high-profile tech leaders) convinces you to check and purge your own facilities of potential zombie servers—Silverback can help. Energy inefficiency is money left on the table, it is time to start picking it up.
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