The Hidden Cost of Zombie Servers in Data Centers

Categories: DCIM Tools, InfrastructureBy 568 words
Zombie Servers Image

In the realm of data centers, the term “zombie server” may conjure up images of undead machines coming back to life, but the reality is far less dramatic, yet no less concerning.

Zombie servers, also known as comatose servers, are essentially machines that continue to consume energy and resources without performing any useful tasks. They lurk in the shadows of data centers, draining power, space, and financial resources. In this blog post, we will explore the cost of running these zombie servers and discuss ways to mitigate their impact on data center efficiency.

The Cost of Zombie Servers

1. Energy Consumption

Zombie servers consume energy 24/7, even though they provide no value to the data center. According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), approximately 30% of servers in data centers are comatose, meaning they are using energy without doing any useful work. The energy consumption of these zombie servers not only contributes to rising operational costs but also increases the carbon footprint of data centers.

2. Wasted Space

Data center space is expensive, and zombie servers occupy valuable real estate that could be used for more productive purposes. The presence of these servers leads to additional costs related to cooling and maintenance, as well as the opportunity cost of not using the space for more efficient equipment.

3. Reduced Operational Efficiency

Zombie servers create unnecessary complexity in data center operations. They add to the workload of IT teams, who must manage, monitor, and maintain these machines. This additional workload distracts IT personnel from focusing on more critical tasks, resulting in reduced operational efficiency.

4. Security Risks

Unmonitored and unmaintained zombie servers can pose significant security risks to data centers. These machines may be running outdated firmware or contain unpatched vulnerabilities, leaving them susceptible to cyberattacks. If exploited, these servers could potentially compromise the security of the entire data center.

Strategies to Combat Zombie Servers

1. Regular Audits

Conducting regular audits using DCIM software can help identify zombie servers quickly and provide insight into their impact on data center efficiency. Regularly tracking server usage and resource consumption can flag underutilized or inactive servers, making it easier to pinpoint the zombie servers that should be decommissioned.

2. Server Consolidation

Consolidating multiple underutilized servers into a single, more efficient machine can help reduce the number of zombie servers. Virtualization technologies, such as VMWare or Hyper-V, can help in the consolidation process, allowing data centers to maximize server utilization while minimizing wasted resources.

3. Power Management Policies

Implementing power management policies can help minimize the energy consumption of zombie servers. By setting power-saving modes, idle servers can consume less energy when not in use. Such policies can be enforced through the use of energy management software or hardware, like intelligent PDUs.

4. Decommissioning

Decommissioning zombie servers is the most effective way to eliminate their impact on data center efficiency. Properly disposing of unused equipment not only frees up space and resources but also reduces the associated costs and security risks.


Zombie servers are an unfortunate reality in many data centers, with significant costs associated with wasted energy, space, reduced operational efficiency, and potential security risks. By implementing strategies like regular audits with DCIM software, server consolidation, power management policies, and decommissioning, data center operators can mitigate the impact of zombie servers and improve overall efficiency.

See first-hand how easy it is to pinpoint zombie servers lurking inside your environment. Schedule a free one-on-one demo of Hyperview today.

About the Author: Rajan Sodhi
Rajan is the Chief Marketing Officer of Hyperview, a cloud-based digital infrastructure management platform that is both powerful and easy to use. Hyperview offers next-generation DCIM tools to manage and monitor hybrid computing environments.
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