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Redefining the Accidental Data Center

By: Kaylie Gyarmathy on November 5, 2014

Many companies start with a few servers and then as their company grows, an accidental data center is born. These accidental data centers are a lot like unplanned projects; they start with the best of intentions and then grow out of control.

According to Pierre Delforge, the director for high-tech sector energy efficiency at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), "Whether it's accidental or not, it starts with one or two servers, which isn't necessarily a big deal. But all of a sudden, you have a small server room that is far less efficient than what you might find in a big data center or colocation facility."

Most facility and office managers are surprised by how much energy it takes to run these data centers and keep them cool. According to the NRDC, roughly half of the servers in the U.S. are unmanaged. These servers account 30 to 50% of electricity being used in small to medium-sized businesses.

Determine the scope of the problem

Fixing this problem requires planning, but is necessary in order to get back on track. First you need to determine the scope of the problem. An easy way to do this is to look at your power consumption after business hours to find out if it’s close to the same as when employees are in the office.

If this is the case, it means your data center is running 24/7 and using a vast majority of the power in your organization. Using outdated and unmanaged equipment can use the same amount of power when it’s idle as when it’s being fully utilized.

Server consolidation

On average, most servers operate at a 4% utilization rate and are great candidates for server consolidation, according to One of the true advantages of moving to a data center is new options for server consolidation. Instead of letting new applications dictate your number of servers (one server per application), you can use more efficient virtualized servers.

Server consolidation also allows for better scalability. By having a data center that is equipped to handle higher-density virtualized servers, you can scale faster with virtualized blade servers without having to purchase additional hardware each time.

Improving reliability

Using a colocation data center gives you better reliability with constant uptime and reinforces your brand performance at the same time. The data center provides power and cooling systems that are set up to handle future growth – allowing for better reliability.


Once you understand the scope of your accidental data center, you can create a plan to fix the problem. Selecting a data center that is equipped for high-density virtualized servers will allow for future growth, while improved reliability can help you sleep at night and improve your brand at the same time.

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