AOL Unplugs 10,000 Servers, Saves $5 Million

AOL decommissioned nearly 10,000 servers and saved itself $5 million along the way to winning an Uptime Institute contest designed to show the high cost of running inefficient or underutilized IT equipment.

The contestants could move workloads to newer, virtualized equipment or into the cloud. Each had to provide documentation, such as work requests, recycling receipts and photographs, to verify what they had done.

AOL decommissioned 9,484 servers last year, or about a quarter of its servers worldwide, Uptime said.

Its savings included $1.65 million in energy bills, $2.2 million in OS licenses and $62,000 in hardware maintenance costs.

The Internet services company also gained $1.2 million from scrap and resale, and reduced its carbon emissions by 20 tons, Uptime added.

The net savings came to about $5 million, said Brenda Rian, an AOL senior manager.

AOL bought new hardware to replace most of the decommissioned servers, so it cut its server count by only about 1,000, said Rian. But the new gear is virtualized and more energy-efficient, so AOL's utility bills are lower than they once were, she added.

Contest runner-up NBC Universal cut its server total by 284, or 17%.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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