Ghost Servers Creeping You Out...of Efficiencies and Costs? Face Your Fears with Intelligent Power Solutions

October 30, 2020

ghost-blog.jpgAs data center operators work to keep up with rising compute demands and increased server capacity deployment, they may keep servers online that aren't in use anymore, or waste energy by running inefficiently at low server utilization levels. These ghost or "zombie" servers consume energy and place high demands on the resources needed to support them. They can haunt even the most sophisticated organizations.

According to McKinsey and Company, up to 30% of data center servers qualify as ghost servers, and according to, companies spend more than $24 million a year on ghost server energy. Even though these idle servers may seem a costly nuisance, if put into the wrong hands, the data you didn't know was there could be compromised. That's a high price to pay for something that actually generates zero output. Haunting, right? 

So, how can you "ghostbust" these servers and eliminate them for good? It starts with "turning on the lights."

Get Rid of the Ghost (Servers) in Your Data Center. First, Turn the Lights On!

You can't get rid of the ghosts you can't see...meaning, you can't eliminate waste if you don't know where it's coming from.

We've talked about taking a holistic approach to managing your data center white space. It means, in part, getting a full picture of data center activities through the use of intelligent power management and monitoring hardware and software solutions that will help you gain the visibility and insights you need to see and understand the correlation between data center activities and extremes, and the impact on power consumption.

Using a simple, but robust DCIM software, such as CPI's Power IQ® for eConnect® and eConnect power distribution units (PDUs) (aka the ghost detectors of the digital age!) allows IT and data center managers to track the historical consumption reports of the servers so that they can compare them against the baseline consumption. These reports can be scheduled at regular intervals or generated on demand. By monitoring low power consumption against a baseline, they can determine potential ghost server candidates. A utilization study of all the candidates would further determine the ones that should be decommissioned.

To optimize system integration and efficiency, and reduce costs, consider the following when selecting a DCIM solution:
  • Data charting of trends: By easily visualizing trends and occurrences, you can quickly identify problem areas, and optimize site capacity, utilization and security.
  • Power capacity trend and analysis: Trending power capacity over time can help you forecast power consumption more accurately.
  • Power charge back reporting: Closely control power consumption expenses with DCIM software that unifies data from various equipment into a simple report. 
  • Failover testing: Test the failover capability of the data center without having to shut down the power chain. Select a solution that proactively provides information to confirm whether failover capability within any cabinet is being compromised.
  • Active power by month and device: This feature helps data center managers quickly identify spikes, prevent potential power issues and maximize uptime. Leverage this feature with power monitoring at the server level to identify power consumption by server, which helps in the identification of under and over utilized servers for potential replacement with more efficient devices or virtual servers.
  • Searchable database and easy integration: DCIM software provides excellent preconfigured dashboard and reporting tools, but access to the data that DCIM collects and stores is also important to create more advanced reporting or for other system integration. Additional insights are possible when combining data from the facility (DCIM) with data from the network and servers or from other asset management tools.
  • Expandable with advanced features: Your basic DCIM software should provide power monitoring and management, environmental monitoring and access control by capturing data at the cabinet level. It should automate measurement, capture and store data, monitor and alarm thresholds, trend power and environmental conditions, simplify administration of user access rights, and log each access attempt. It should also be able to expand to provide more robust asset management, power chain and connectivity mapping and change and workflow management.

Arm Yourself with Ghostbusting Tools and Equipment. Consider Intelligent Power Distribution Units (PDUs).

Knowing baseline power consumption of servers during their normal compute operation when they are provisioned is important, as we've mentioned above. Actual power consumption of a server can be determined by utilizing intelligent PDUs with metering at the outlet level.

eConnect PDUs (Switched Pro and Monitored Pro models) provide reliable power distribution for evolving data centers, while providing per-outlet monitoring of voltage, current, power (kW) and energy (kilowatt-hour) levels with a +/-1% metering accuracy for each piece of equipment. They also provide remote control of each outlet.

Additional energy-saving features include:
  • Phase-balance outlets on three-phase models that simplifies equal loading across all phases
  • Integrated environmental sensors that provide notification on hot spots within cabinets
  • Field-replaceable controller for easy serviceability and upgradeability while maintaining power to critical loads
  • Bistable latching relays for reduced energy consumption and increased service reliability on Switched PDU models

Don't Be Afraid of No Ghosts! 

Face your fears and eliminate the ghoulishly scary encounters with the high costs of ghost servers. Ongoing measurement and tracking of the IT server infrastructure are key factors to achieving IT efficiency and reducing your costs significantly, so count on the benefits of CPI's power management and software solutions to help.

Learn more about our intelligent eConnect PDUs or test drive Power IQ for eConnect software to experience its functionality.
Posted by Brittany Mangan, Digital Content Specialist at 10/30/2020 8:21:22 AM
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