This level of visibility has many benefits, but from a green-tech perspective, it means you can spot which servers are doing little to no useful work based on what apps they're running and how they're connected to the rest of your infrastructure. According to Tideway CTO Adam Kerrison, one customer (an investment bank) "identified 150 servers in its London datacenter that were effectively decommissioned. They found out they were still in there and plugged in. That's a breakdown in process that actually costs money."
Moreover, Foundation can provide a hardware profile of the machines in your datacenter, so you might discover a few dinosaurs that draw far more power than their shinier new brethren while delivering lower performance.
One feat Tideway's Foundation can't yet perform is telling you the utilization level of each server it finds, though according to Kerrison, the company is working on adding that feature.
Additionally, although Foundation can reveal which servers might be candidates for reassignment or dismissal, it can't take you by the hand and guide you to where the machine resides on the datacenter floor. If yours is a well-organized datacenter, that might not be a problem. Otherwise, you might need to follow the lead of Wachovia. The company combined Tideway's technology with that of a company called Interpoint to create a 3-D map of its datacenter operations.
Tideway's offering isn't the only product out there that can help pinpoint lazy servers. Nimsoft, for example, offers its NimBUS for Server Monitoring solution, which supports iSeries AS400, NetWare, Linux, Windows, and Unix from a single console. The solution monitors core server resources (CPU, memory, disk, event logs, counters, etc.) and enables centralized management of remote processes and services (i.e. automated and manual start/restart/stop).
Although my focus here has been on zombie servers, it's well worth pointing out one more statistic, lest the active servers out there get too cocky about how useful they think they are: The average utilization of the distributed systems in the datacenter today is between 5 and 30 percent, according to McKinsey.
The bottom line here is that underutilized servers represent a huge amount of costly waste in the datacenter. Rather than allowing that waste to continue unchecked, datacenter operators would be well served to determine which machines can be unplugged, which ones needs to be replaced, and where opportunity lies for consolidation or even virtualization. Taking these steps leads to lower energy bills and cooling costs, as well as a chance to free up space if expansion is in your company's future. That certainly beats being a caretaker for the datacenter of the living dead.