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How to avoid a data center overrun with idle servers

Andy Patrizio | Nov. 10, 2015
A third of data center servers are not productive. Here's why the problem exists, and what to do about it.

Winner said that IT needs to start keeping much better track of what it has. "The key here, the way we solve this, is truly to have a very well thought through asset management approach that looks at the physical location of the server and understands where they sit in the operation of the environment," he said.

The other part of the solution is ownership. Part of the criteria for the purchase of servers or racks should be the total cost of ownership, which includes power and cooling requirements of that device. When the IT department gets the electric bill, it will become much more militant about keeping all servers running at maximum efficiency.

Abbot's view is somewhat similar, in that data center operators need to keep a decent inventory. "They need to be more stringent in their change control and documentation process so when they stand up a new server, they keep track of their assets. What they do after that is up to them. We can tell them they need to be more stringent and document what they are doing but at the end of the day it's up to the companies," he said.

Asset management needs to become a management priority and needs to be brought onto the radar of management and the CFO, said Taylor. "This is the kind of thing a CFO would love. If you went to them and said 'I can reduce your operating costs,' do you think they would listen? But you need to have the information to support that," he said.

Rallo said the data center must be viewed as part of the supply chain of a firm and with the same sharp eye as every other part of the chain. "Walmart looks at every part of their supply chain. All of its executives are focused on delivering product on time and reducing cost. If we started thinking about the data center as part of their supply chain, the change is going to come," he said.


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