Idle Servers Suck Power and Money: Report


datacenterserversOne-sixth of the world’s servers — computers that run web services — are not being used at all, wasting $24.7 billion a year, including $3.8 billion in energy-related costs, according to a new report published Thursday. Researchers at the Alliance to Save Energy, Kelton Research and 1E, a software IT company, found through surveys of server managers and analysis of industry data that out of the world’s 44 million servers, roughly 4.7 million of them are idle and not doing necessary work.

The problem is that most servers are housed in data centers, into which server managers have a hard time peering in order to see which ones are being productive and which ones aren’t. In the meantime, servers that aren’t doing useful work, but are still on, are still sucking power — usually as much as a highly productive server. Without the proper data, server managers are hard-pressed to turn off company servers if there’s a remote chance that they might be needed for something.

Here’s one solution, also brought to you by one of the report sponsors, 1E. It launched on Thursday its power management software for servers, which the company says uses smart algorithms to determine which servers are doing useful work and which ones aren’t, as well as how much energy they’re using and when. IE also says its “NightWatchman Server Edition” can power down servers into a drowsy state, cutting their energy use by 12 percent.

1E has been selling its power management software for PCs for over a decade, and counts among its customers AT&T (s T), Verizon Wireless (s VZ) and HSBC. 1E’s CEO Sumir Karayi even claims the company invented the PC power management sector. Based in London and New York, the company has been bootstrapped since its founding.

Clearly 1E’s tools are just one company’s solution to the idle server problem. Making data centers more green and bringing down the energy costs and carbon footprints of the Internet has emerged as a hot trend (read about green data center design strategies on our subscription research service, GigaOM Pro). Other companies are focusing on virtualization server software, wireless sensor networks in data centers, energy efficient server and storage hardware, and finding low-hanging fruit like using free outside air cooling.

Image courtesy of 1E.


joe pah

This article could have addressed the impact of all the idle electrical components we own, like chargers, home pc’s, dvd’s, printers, etc. Estimates put idle energy energy consumption at 1 – 2 % of total energy use… That’s as much as the airline industry.


It’s not enough to improve efficiency and optimize cooling. We should be coupling data centers with consumers of thermal energy — geothermal plants, or municipal systems.

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