One of the consistent challenges facing the data center industry is the corporate disconnect between IT and Facilities Operations. Uptime Institute invited companies around the globe to help address and solve this problem by participating in the Uptime Institute Server Roundup, an initiative to promote IT and facilities integration, and improve data center energy efficiency.
The annual Uptime Institute Server Roundup contest was introduced in October 2011 to raise awareness about the removal and recycling of comatose and obsolete IT equipment in an effort to reduce data center energy use. Winners and finalists of the Uptime Institute Server Roundup will participate at Uptime Institute Symposium in a panel discussion on the challenges and rewards of a disciplined server decommissioning program, Wednesday May 15. For more information on Symposium, visit http://symposium.uptimeinstitute.com.
According to industry estimates, around 20% of servers in data centers today are obsolete, outdated or unused. Decommissioning one rack unit (1U) of servers can result in a savings of $500 per year in energy costs, an additional $500 in operating system licenses and $1,500 in hardware maintenance costs.
"The purpose of Server Roundup is to highlight what should be a routine activity — removing obsolete hardware from the data center — and moving it to the forefront of the conversation," said Matt Stansberry, director of content and publications at Uptime Institute. "We want to inspire participation and healthy competition to improve data center efficiency. Past efforts around data center efficiency have focused on the facilities infrastructure and PUE, and those efforts have hit a plateau. The future of data center efficiency gains will depend on engaging the IT professionals to take bold new steps."
"Finding and retiring underutilized servers is a terrific way to get more bang from your data center buck," said Jonathan Koomey , Ph.D. Research Fellow, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University. "The Uptime Server Roundup has done the industry a great service by calling attention to this often ignored issue."
2012-13 Server Roundup Winners and Finalists
WINNER: AOL won back-to-back years for overall tally of servers removed. The global Web services company decommissioned 8,253 servers in calendar year 2012. This resulted in (gross) total savings of almost $3 million from reduced utility costs, maintenance and recovery of asset resale/scrap. Environmental benefits were seen in the reduction of more than 16,000 tons of carbon emissions, according to AOL.
WINNER: Barclays, a global financial organization, removed 5,515 obsolete servers in 2012, with power savings of around three megawatts, and $3.4 million annualized savings for power, and a further $800K savings in hardware maintenance.
FINALIST: TD Bank removed 513 servers in 2012. The team from this Canadian financial firm removed 2,941 units in the five years they've been working to remove obsolete machines from the raised floor. Although the TD Bank annual server count does not approach those impressive numbers put up by AOL, the organization makes up for it in volume of waste that it diverts from local and municipal waste sites. All of the equipment that was sent through the E-Waste recycler is salvaged within a 110-mile radius from TD Bank's primary data centers. Nothing is shipped overseas for processing.
FINALIST: McKesson pulled 586 servers in 2012, reducing data center power usage by 931.7 kW and saving $734,550.
FINALIST: Sun Life Financial removed 387 servers in 2012, which resulted in 32 kW of power savings across three data centers and financial savings of $8,800 per month.
"It has been said that the greenest data center is the one that is never built – that is the main reason why we have our server decommission program at Barclays," said Paul Nally , Director at Barclays. "We are looking to shrink our DC footprint, benefit from the savings that this affords us, while allowing ourselves to massively expand our overall compute capability. When obsolete servers are removed in the thousands, it creates the capacity that we need to bring the next generation of systems in."
Mr. Nally continued, "We save in space, we save in power. We help meet our carbon targets. When we eliminate or virtualize a server, we also save on network, SAN and software costs. A server that may have cost $100,000 seven years ago, took up half a rack of space and required a couple of kW to run is absolutely crushed in compute performance by a modern blade, costing $5,000. But the benefits extend throughout the overall organization. A focus on removing these obsolete systems simplifies the environment from a network and systems administration perspective. Application teams benefit from more stable systems that are easily maintained and integrated into contemporary management frameworks. We end up in a cleaner, safer, cheaper place with the capacity in hand that we need to continue to grow our business. There is real work, and some risk, in getting this done, but the benefits are simply too many to ignore."
"The brilliance of the Uptime Institute Server Roundup is that it seems like light-hearted fun, but the removal of obsolete computing hardware is a very large task," noted Brenda Rian , AOL's Sustainability Manager. "It takes a great deal of organizational discipline to review, retire and replace all software programs, platforms, products and infrastructure requests. I'm proud of all the AOL groups who worked together to decommission these servers, which lowers both our operating costs and our carbon footprint."
"Sun Life Financial is proud to be a finalist for this year's Server Roundup award because it recognizes our hard work to consistently monitor our hardware infrastructure and electrical consumption," said Rocco Alonzi , AVP, Data Centre Governance, Sun Life Financial. "The Server Roundup program has helped us refine our existing processes while strengthening our data center, including servers, networks and facilities partners. We congratulate the Uptime Institute for raising awareness about data center energy use and providing a platform to recognize organizations that put a lot of time and effort into reducing IT footprint."
"The Server Roundup competition represents an important wake-up call that alerts IT decision-makers about the excessive, increasing rate of energy usage in servers and data centers, and the necessity of improving IT cost efficiency," said Jim Elliott , Vice President of Memory Marketing and Product Planning at Samsung Semiconductor, Inc., sole sponsor of the Server Roundup Awards. "As a leader in green memory solutions for data centers and supercomputers, Samsung applauds the Uptime Institute's contribution to improving cost efficiency and optimizing power consumption of data center assets with the most advanced green IT technologies."
Last year's winners, AOL and NBC Universal, removed over 11,000 underutilized or comatose servers. AOL removed nearly 10,000 and saved over $5 million. NBC Universal's infrastructure team culled 1,090 machines, representing approximately 29% of the total enterprise IT footprint.
Since the contest's launch two years ago, Server Roundup participants have decommissioned and recycled over 30,000 units of underutilized or obsolete server hardware.