1 in 3 business servers are unused and wasting power, research shows

1 in 3 business servers are unused and wasting power, research shows

1 in 3 business servers are unused and wasting power, research shows

IT infrastructure is often something that organisations give little thought to when it comes to making their operations more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. According to new research, however, it could be a major and largely unmonitored source of energy waste.

Global sustainability consultancy Anthesis Group joined forces with Stanford University's Jonathan Koomey to carry out the study, which was based on insight from TSO Logic, a provider of energy efficiency software for data centres.

1 in 3 business servers are unused and wasting power, research shows

Published last Wednesday (June 3rd), it found that almost a third (30 per cent) of the servers worldwide that are powered-on and connected to business networks are "sitting comatose" - that is, not actively used to store or process any data for periods of six months or longer at a time.

This translates to around ten million comatose servers globally, according to Anthesis, including both standalone devices and those used to host virtual environments in cloud-style data centres.

Interestingly, the study's findings are corroborated by earlier research from the Uptime Institute, which also suggested that 30 per cent of servers are unused at any given time.

In terms of cost, the phenomenon could mean as much as $30 billion (£20 billion) in capital expenditure on data centre hardware - assuming an average cost-per-server of $3,000 - is wasted, to say nothing of the budget attached to feeding this unused infrastructure with energy.

"Far too many businesses have massive IT infrastructure inefficiencies of which they are not even aware," commented Jon Taylor, a partner at Anthesis. "These preliminary findings support the idea that ongoing measurement and management of a business's IT infrastructure is needed to optimise performance, energy use, and return-on-investment."

Dr Koomey added: "In the 21st century, every company is an IT company, yet far too little attention is given to IT inefficiencies, and to the need for widespread changes in how IT resources are built, provisioned, and managed."

The growing environmental cost of IT infrastructure

This is not the first time that the environmental footprint - and excessive level of waste - of the world's data centres has been commented upon.

A recent Greenpeace report found that the emissions associated with these facilities are rising at a rate of around 13 per cent per annum, with their total share of global power consumption expected to reach one per cent within two years.

The growing ubiquity of cloud computing both in the consumer and business space is largely responsible for this growth, and providers such as Amazon and Apple have made bold pledges to adopt renewable energy sources for their hyperscale data centres.

However, much of the world's IT infrastructure is still located in organisations' own premises, and in old and inefficient server rooms with scope for more effective use of power and resources.


Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of ThinkStock