There is always a certain number of unused dedicated servers in a data center that simply are left on using up power, space and causing the data center to cool more than it actually needs to as these ghost servers simply give off heat.
It is important to determine how servers are being used if at all and to begin asking questions on dedicated server use. A common solution to this problem is to at least virtualize these servers or simply switch them off. If being switched off, it is important to determine for how long they are being powered off and in some cases removing them from the datacenter is ideal. This simply frees up space for other newer dedicated servers to take their place. If being powered on again for new clients or various IT projects, the power consumption would be zero during the time of being powered down and thus also giving off no heat.
Ghost servers can especially be a problem with mergers and acquisitions where not all servers are even accounted for. Other reasons for ghost servers is an inadequate number of IT staff to devote time and resources to keeping track of these unused servers. To avoid any SLA violations, decommissioning should be a last step. Instead, simply powering down dedicated servers for a certain amount of time is advised before taking the final step that cannot be reversed. Also, powered down servers can be moved off of a rack to free up space as the last step before physically recycling or selling off an off-lease dedicated server.
Usually these unused dedicated servers that are simply using power and space are discovered after providers look into specific power usage and space on racks, or which software licenses being used for which servers.
Keeping records of dedicated servers on racks is vital in order to keep this problem under control. What clients are on what servers? What services is it running? Is the technology old (aka more power hungry) and can client be placed on newer hardware? DCIM tools can also help identify unused servers if such a system is setup.
There are financial savings on locating unused servers in any data center or even on a single rack. Getting the most out of the space and power provided is essential, especially in a highly competitive market such as the web hosting industry and where profit margins can be rather narrow. Looking internally into a hosting providers daily operations can prove just as profitable if not more profitable than trying to constantly expand and acquire new clients.
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