AOL has notched another award in our data center energy efficiency efforts. We've won the Uptime Institute's first "Server Roundup" contest to decommission old servers. The Uptime Institute, a data center industry think tank and trade association, called for data centers to find and remove duplicated or unused applications, out-of-date, obsolete servers and replace them with more efficient, virtualized hardware.

Given AOL's ongoing efforts to be more efficient in our data centers and AOL's Technology Operations team's ongoing work decommissioning servers, this challenge seemed right up our alley. Mike Manos, SVP of Technology Operations, had the entire Tech Ops team – from systems analyst to database administrators to project management to the data center team – involved in the migration to the internal cloud-computing environment, defining "absurd" server applications and products and identifying "power hog" servers. The team had to root out servers full of ancient data, which entailed touching almost every server and doing a "door-to-door" canvas to discuss the fate of the server with the owners.

After gathering the documentation for the contest application we learned that AOL started January 2011 with 37,016 servers, and decommissioned 9,484 – a 26% turnover, grossing $5.05 million in savings for 2011. The savings encompassed many areas of the company: electric costs for the servers accounted for $1.4 million of our $13 million annual electric bill, sourcing saved $2.2 million in licensing costs and asset management had $1.2 million in sale/recycle/scrap. During this time period we did install 8,376 new, more efficient servers. Net savings, including these new servers, is $4 million – still awesome! Environmental benefits were seen in the reduction of almost 20 tons of carbon emissions!