It’s been said that people are motivated by two primary emotions: greed and fear. These motivations certainly could hold true for C-suite executives when it comes to managing their data centers – and the “zombies” within them.
Featured in pop culture phenomena from the “Plants vs. Zombies” video game to the television series “The Walking Dead,” Zombies are everywhere today. Your data center, however, is the last place you want to see them.
The fact is that there's a good chance you are operating servers and other equipment that are, quite frankly, zombies. They’re achieving nothing as they sap energy, power and other resources from your business.
It’s estimated to cost at least $2,000 per year to support a single mid-tier server. Estimates also show that somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of most companies’ servers are “dead.” (Source: Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, Sept. 2011.)
This means that in a 4,000-server enterprise, for example, if even 400 of them are dead, you're looking at a bill of $800,000 annually – factoring in electricity, cooling and other operational expenses – for servers that are doing nothing. That’s more than a drop in the bucket to keep your zombies alive. But it’s an issue that is solvable.
What are the problems?
So what are the “greed” and “fear” triggers for executives in the data center space? On a financial level, it’s about cost, including those associated with everyday manpower, senior management time, space capacity, upgrades of licenses, energy and other capital and operating expense considerations. Reducing expenses associated with running unused data center servers will help increase efficiency, reduce the need to expand data centers – essentially doing more with the same – and maintain profit levels.
In addition to the financial considerations, CIOs – and their C-level colleagues – should be fearful of the potential security issues that zombie servers can create. Servers that are not being used are prime candidates to be taken over, because often they are unmonitored and unpatched.
How do your servers become zombies…?
Frequently, a server is commissioned by a business unit for a specific application or project. Eventually, the need for the server goes away, but a decommissioning process doesn’t take place because there is no tieback to the business unit using the server. Data center management is not certain which servers are unused and at risk of causing downtime, so the device is never fully decommissioned.