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Does Your Data Center House Zombie Servers?

Does Your Data Center House Zombie Servers?

by Stephanie Faris on Monday, September 28 6:00



The term brings to mind something out of a horror movie, but it s far from fiction. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal expressed concern about millions of zombie servers that linger in data centers across the globe. These servers hum along daily, draining the power grid while serving no real purpose.

Why do businesses and IT service providers retain these servers? The question is one experts have many thoughts on. But coming up with solutions to the problem is much more challenging. With an estimated ten million zombie servers draining the ecosystem, however, it s important that businesses begin doing their part to reduce the energy burden.

Project Procrastination

One of the biggest reasons so many zombie servers exist is procrastination. IT professionals may put a new server in place in a server room and assign someone to set it up. However, as time goes on, the project gets pushed back to allow workers to focus on more pressing tasks. In some cases, a business purchases equipment and adds it to the data center infrastructure, assuming someone else will handle setting things up, but somewhere along the way the chain of communication gets broken.

To avoid this issue, IT administrators must set up processes that keep equipment out of the data center environment until they re ready to be active. This means when new equipment arrives, workers should be discouraged from removing it from the box and powering it up. Instead, the server administrator who will be handling the setup should be the one to unbox the item and power it up.

Decommissioning Delays

Disposing of an old server can seem like a daunting task. A server may have long ago outlived its usefulness, but administrators or business leaders may request it stay in place until everyone is certain the data on it is no longer needed. Businesses may also feel uncertain about the decommissioning process itself, since disposing of old equipment can put data at risk if not handled properly.

When a server is replaced or phased out, administrators should immediately back up any information that might be requested later. Once that process is complete, a business should work with professional data destruction experts, who will degauss the sensitive hard drives of the equipment and shred it so that the data once housed on it can no longer be accessed.

Inventory Issues

As things have become more automated, businesses have begun relying on software to handle inventory processes. The Wall Street Journal pointed out instances where servers were not visible on such software, putting them completely off the map unless someone saw them in person.

For best results, businesses should schedule regular audits where a professional checks each piece of equipment in person. During this process, they can verify that each piece of equipment is fully functional and in use within the organization to avoid servers being left unchecked for multiple years.

Zombie servers are a growing problem in data centers across the globe. By being aware of the problem and taking measures to avoid it, businesses can begin to reduce the energy consumption by these abandoned servers.

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