Guest Post: Are There Zombies and Ghosts In Your Data Center?

By Andy Dominey, Product Manager, 1E

‘Tis the season for screams and horror movies, and one thing is for sure – zombies are hot this year. Although they invade Times Square to promote “The Walking Dead,” and there are zombie walks for hunger, zombies are not meant for IT. However, as systems become more complex and virtualization becomes more prevalent, many companies are facing two new, almost spooky problems –zombie and ghost servers – which are frequently occurring as more and more systems are brought online to meet demand.

A zombie server appears to be “alive,” but in reality, it is one of the evil undead. It consumes power and resources like a real zombie eats brains. Though these zombie servers cost money to run, they are simply shuffling along without providing any business value.

Zombie servers are prevalent for a variety of reasons, including failure to decommission physical servers once an application has been migrated to a new platform or spinning up too many virtual machines in response to temporary demand without removing them later. In fact, industry research had found that as many as 15 percent of an organization’s servers may be entirely unused.

Ghost servers are pretty much what they sound like – apparitions. No one really knows if they truly exist. There could be ghost servers lurking in the dark corners of your data center and until something bad happens, like a security breach, you may never know. Though there are many reasons why ghost servers lurk in data centers, humans generally provoke their haunting. We build servers and forget about them after they’ve fulfilled their tasks. Virtualization compounds the problem, as new virtual machines are created and old ones are forgotten.

So what can you do? First, you need visibility – you can’t monitor what you can’t see. Once you locate your ghost servers, figure out if they are ’undead’ or if they are actually alive and useful. This will require a hard look at each of your servers, but once you do, you can take positive action and bury the zombies and ghosts for good.

1E is an IT software company focused on helping organizations reduce waste and increase efficiency in hardware, software, energy and time. For details on how 1E’s NightWatchman Server Edition helps organizations combat zombie and ghost servers, visit: