The sorry state of server utilization and the impending post-hypervisor era


Want to know a deep dark secret in the enterprise? Despite the widespread use of server virtualization, hardware resources in the data center are today tremendously underutilized. When I first discovered this, I was surprised. I had naively thought that virtualization solved the server utilization problem.

But after I reached out to contacts in data-center operations at various companies, I learned that I was wrong. One conversation really stuck with me. I’ll paraphase:

Me: Do you track server and CPU utilization?
Wall Street IT Guru: Yes
Me: So it’s a metric you report on with other infrastructure KPIs?
Wall Street IT Guru: No way, we don’t put it in reports. If people knew how low it really is, we’d all get fired.

While exact figures vary greatly depending the type of hardware being used in a data center, its specific characteristics and the peak-to-average ratio of…

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