This is something that yesterday’s post didn’t really touch on, but is a pretty amazing IT expenditure: globally, 4.7 million servers are doing nothing useful, wasting $25 billion dollars a year. This figure is according to 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy, based on the findings of Kelton Research. “Contrary to popular belief, one of the largest causes of energy and IT operational waste in data centers are servers that are simply not being used,” said Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E. Three quarters of the server managers polled believe that 15 percent of their servers are doing nothing useful. “The savings from decommissioning non-productive servers cannot be ignored. Organizations need better information on server efficiency and more effective ongoing server energy management,” Karayi said.

The big problem is that most people in charge of server operations do not know how to properly use – or optimize – them. More than eight in ten respondents replied that they “do not have an adequate grasp of server utilization.”

Last month, Gartner recommended several ways to curb data center waste:

1. Raise the temperature at the server inlet point up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but use sensors to monitor potential hotspots.
2. Develop a dashboard of data center energy-efficient metrics that provides appropriate data to different levels of IT and financial management.
3. Use the SPECpower benchmark to evaluate the relative energy efficiencies of the servers.
4. Improve the use of the existing infrastructure through consolidation and visualization before building out or buying new/additional data center floor space.

“An unnecessary amount of data servers are ‘plugged in’ 24/7 in an age when power-saving tools are available to businesses,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

Regulatory measures are being undertaken to curb server waste.

“Faced with a fast-moving regulatory environment - including the U.S. climate bill, pending EPA data center initiatives and the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen - the U.S. IT sector may soon be under greater scrutiny for its power consumption,” Callahan said.

By Mark Alvarez