April 16, 2012

Fuzzy Math

I read an article title "AOL Unplugs 10,000 Servers, Saves $5 Million."Take a minute and read the article for yourself, it is interesting. AOL won a contest by making these cuts.

Okay, so you didn't read the article, but you would expect from the title to learn that AOL got rid of 10,000 servers and saved $5 Million, right?

Now, lets look at the facts!

"AOL decommissioned 9,484 servers last year." To me 9,484 rounds up to 9,500, not 10,000, but whatever, I'll give them that one. It isn't a big deal.

"It's savings included $1.65 million in energy bills, $2.2 million in OS licenses and $62,000 in hardware maintenance costs." Great, I'll go along with these savings, for now.

The article continues and states that AOL also sold or recycled the servers for $1.2 million. Unplugging all of these servers will also lower the carbon emissions by 20 tons. The $1.2 million is for sure a number that is accountable, the 20 tons of carbon emissions, who knows, whatever.

Finally, at the end of the article is the following sentence, "AOL bought new hardware to replace most of the decommissioned servers, so it cut its server count by only 1,000."

Whoa, wait a minute, what are they doing here.

So they got rid of 9,484 servers, then bought about another 8,484. I assume these servers use electricity so they didn't lower their electric bill by $1.65 million. I also assume these servers have operating systems on them so they didn't lower their OS licenses by $2.2 million. I would imagine that their carbon emissions were not really reduced by 20 tons either then. Especially, if they resold some of those servers and other companies are using them.

Let's also assume that each server purchased cost $5,000 (this is a very low number, the actual cost is probably closer to $10,000 or more). So $5,000 times 8,484 equals $42,420,000.

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. AOL spent at least $42 million to save way less than $5 million! Good job guys, give the CEO a bonus! And they won the contest at the Uptime Institute as well. Unreal.

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