Separating Server Value from Waste at Data Center Dynamics- Chicago

If one agrees that data is the Business’ most valuable asset, then the data center is the metaphorical treasure chest of the Business. The data center represents a major focal point of capital and expense for the Business, as the container and life support system for its IT assets. While data centers are conceived with a certain return on investment in mind, managing the delivery of this value is difficult once the data center is commissioned.

At Data Center Dynamics Converged, in Chicago IL this week, 1E outlined the ways in which IT assets can fail to deliver value to the business, why traditional methods of identifying IT waste fall short, and how this problem can be corrected with innovative techniques.

Waste Happens

As the months and years go by, applications come and go, the Business ebbs and flows, and the residuum of the path of the Business is underused or no longer used IT assets. Unfortunately, these resources carry costs that are not contributing positively to the mission of the Business.

Hardware waste, in the form of unused or underused servers is prevalent but often undetected in the data center. Surveys suggest that even in well run shops, up to 15% of server assets are returning no value to the Business.

On servers that are underused, misused, or no longer used, software licenses and maintenance contracts represent an expense that is unnecessary, but difficult to isolate.

Then of course there’s energy wasted with unused IT equipment. We waste energy to power systems that are doing little or nothing for us, and we waste energy on cooling those same boxes… on cooling the data processing activity that is only spinning wheels.

Technical operations staff, monitoring tools, and processes are invested in support of servers. This expense is wasted when invested in servers that are under used or comatose. Many a late-night bridge call are commenced to respond to an alert triggered by an event on a server that is not even serving a purposeful function for the Business.

As painful as it may seem, we are aware that money is leaking down the drain every month and every year because of this aspect of data center operations.

Server Utilization Measurements: The Lights are on but Nobody’s Home

Most enterprises today use server utilization measurements as their method to determine whether a server is useful or not. If the server is showing utilization, the assumption is that it’s purposeful.

With utilization measurements, we can see that the server is alive, and maybe even that it’s doing something, but we cannot tell if that something is useful. The server may be executing a stuck process or simple background administrative tasks, but not returning value to the Business.

A Better Way

What if we could see every process running on every server in the entire estate? What if we were able to categorize each process as either “useful” or “non-useful?” What if we could do this for every server, whether physical or virtual?

What we would then have, is a clear view of where value is being returned, across the whole server estate. We would have a complete accounting of our servers, and the degree to which they are doing useful data processing activity and returning value to the Business.

The 1E Useful Work Assessment

This is exactly what the Useful Work Assessment does. The Useful Work Assessment is a packaged service offering, using 1E’s unique capability to see inside the server estate and identify exactly where value is being returned to the Business. This allows the data center operator to decommission servers with confidence, and to more accurately manage resources and control virtual sprawl.

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