In 2015, Jon Taylor of the Anthesis Group in partnership with Jonathan Koomey Research Fellow at Stanford University, published a report revealing that 30% of enterprise servers in the five facility, 4000 server sample were comatose, performing no useful computing over a 6 month period in 2014.
The problem of servers that use electricity but deliver no useful information services, (known as zombie or comatose servers) is one that continues to haunt the data centre industry. Few companies can identify these orphaned servers, and many companies don’t even know how many servers they have.
Finding and eliminating comatose servers would also save many enterprises money, but more importantly, taking that action would eliminate an unappreciated security risk. Zombie servers are unlikely to have the latest security patches, which makes them an open door to many enterprise data centres. If the monetary incentives are not enough to ensure prompt action, concern over cybersecurity should.
In previous work, we showed that about thirty percent of the enterprise servers were comatose in a 4000 server sample across five data centre environments, performing no useful computing over a six month period in 2014. This finding mirrored earlier work by the Uptime Institute and McKinsey and Company, which showed very low server utilisation and significant percentages of zombie servers in enterprise data centres.
In this follow-up analysis, we assess the percentage of comatose servers in a sample four times larger than included in our original report (and covering twice as many facilities) using a consistent methodology and data from TSO Logic’s data discovery tools. This report summarises these new results, which includes an assessment of comatose physical servers as well as comatose virtual machines running on hypervisors.
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