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Wall Street Journal confirms scale of comatose servers

Download Jon Taylor and Jonathan Koomey’s new report, Comatose Servers Redux (April 2017).


The Wall Street Journal continues discussion on comatose servers, providing further confirmation of this prevalent and growing issue.

In today’s supplement on energy, the Wall Street Journal has published an article by Bob McMillan. He references the recent findings that we published with Jonathan Koomey on comatose servers.

Here are the first few paragraphs from the WSJ article:

There are zombies lurking in data centers around the world.

They’re servers—millions of them, by one estimate—sucking up lots of power while doing nothing. It is a lurking environmental problem that doesn’t get much discussion outside of the close-knit community of data-center operators and server-room geeks.

The problem is openly acknowledged by many who have spent time in a data center: Most companies are far better at getting servers up and running than they are at figuring out when to pull the plug, says Paul Nally, principal of his own consulting company, Bruscar Technologies LLC, and a data-center operations executive with experience in the financial-services industry. “Things that should be turned off over time are not,” he says. “And unfortunately the longer they linger there, the worse the problem becomes.”

Mr. Nally once audited a data center that had more than 1,000 servers that were powered on but not identifiable on the network. They hadn’t even been configured with domain-name-system software—the Internet’s equivalent of a telephone number. “They would have never been found by any other methodology other than walking around with a clipboard,” Mr. Nally says.

This article and other feedback Jonathan Koomey and I have received since releasing our preliminary comatose server analysis confirm the scale of  this issue and the opportunity for savings. We are planning to release an update to this analysis, with a larger sample size of servers, before the end of 2015.

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