How to Find the Ghost Servers Haunting Your Data Center
It's almost Halloween, and we have a spooky and scary story for you.
Don’t jump out of your seat, but did you know that most data centers are haunted and overrun by the undead?
That’s right. Ghost servers (also known as zombie servers) are everywhere. In fact, up to 30% of servers in any data center may be ghost servers.
Ghost servers are servers that are deployed in cabinets and powered on but are sitting idle without performing any useful function. They’re so scary because they drain you of space, energy, and money like a vampire.
How Much Energy Does a Ghost Server Waste?
Let’s say that, hypothetically, you have a data center with 100 racks and 25 servers in each rack for a total of 2,500 servers. A conservative estimate would be that 10%, or 250, of your servers are ghost servers. In this example, your energy cost is the current US average of $0.167/kWh.
Ghost servers are typically older assets that have been forgotten about, so they are usually inefficient pieces of equipment. Let’s assume they each consume 175 watts at idle.
We can calculate how much money these ghost servers would cost you over the course of a year with some simple math:
250 ghost servers * 175W * $0.167 kWh cost * 24 hours a day * 365 days a year
Those ghost servers would cost you $64,000 in energy bills plus all the associated costs such as space, cooling, cabling, and maintenance.
Now that’s frightening.
What Causes Ghost Servers?
The most common reasons that ghost servers occur are:
- New hardware is deployed at such a high rate that decommissioning older servers is put on the backburner where it can remain indefinitely.
- As workloads are moved to the cloud, old servers are left behind still drawing power. They may be forgotten about or considered too low a priority to worry about.
- Excess capacity is deployed in case it is needed to quickly roll out a new service. Idle servers are powered on and ready but may never be needed.
- Lack of tools and information that can identify potential ghost servers.
How Do I Find Ghost Servers?
Ghost servers are a terrible waste of resources and provide zero benefit in return. If your data center is haunted with ghost servers, it’s critical that you exorcise them.
Fortunately, with the right tools, it’s easy. Just follow these simple steps.
First, deploy outlet-metered intelligent rack PDUs. These will provide power consumption data at the device level.
Next, leverage Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software. The software collects, stores, trends, and reports on the live measured data from your power meters, transforming the data into actionable insights. DCIM software is also used to centrally track and visualize detailed information about your assets such as their exact cabinet and U position.
Modern DCIM software has a built-in ghost server report. At the click of a button, you can identify all of your servers drawing less than 50W over a period of time. Then, you can inspect the minimum, maximum, and average power consumption per server to easily identify your potential ghost servers. Add up the total kWh and you’ll know exactly how much energy your ghost servers are wasting and how much money you will save by removing them.
Once you’ve identified your ghost servers, use your DCIM software to know exactly where they are located. Then, use your DCIM tool’s built-in change management capabilities to create requests and detailed work orders to decommission the ghost servers.
Last, you can see in real-time how removing the ghost servers has impacted your data center. You can see how much new space capacity is now available, monitor energy usage and Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) as they decrease, and view thermal map time-lapse videos to visualize temperature changes and identify where you may now be overcooling and can save money by increasing temperature set points.
Who You Gonna Call? Sunbird!
Be the ghostbuster of your data center. Don’t let ghost servers waste energy, decrease the efficiency capacity utilization, and reduce your data center’s sustainability.
See how Sunbird’s second-generation DCIM solution makes it easy to find and decommission ghost servers. Get your free test drive now!