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How Do I Put Unused Servers To Work?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-does-your-inner-ringmaster-say? dept.

Businesses 302

olyar writes "I worked for an internet start-up last year and during the 'we have plenty of money' phase, a lot of server hardware was purchased. Eight months later, there is very little money, but we're still plugging along — using only a fraction of the hardware. We just cleared out a co-lo and I now have a stack of 17, 1U servers in my garage. Each of those has 2 servers, each of which is a 2-processor, dual-core box with 8 GB of RAM. Add that up and I have 136 processors and 272 GB of RAM with nothing to do. The IT guy in me thinks that's a waste of FLOPS. The wanna-be businessman in me thinks its probably a waste of money as well. So I've been brainstorming ways to put all of that power to good use. Any ideas?"

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Donate to At Home Projects (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886485)

The IT guy in me thinks that's a waste of FLOPS.

The wanna-be businessman in me thinks its probably a waste of money as well.

You look like you're in a position to use virtualization to create X application servers over Y machine servers ... but you'd need all the IT staff and customer support, etc. to get that going. It's too bad you can't sell your CPUs to Amazon for their cloud computing since it's all pretty much anonymous but I guess either way I think about it you would need a pretty hefty internet connection.

Have you thought about just selling the servers?

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (4, Insightful)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886515)

Yeah was thinking the same, smartest thing to do is sell it, way too much hassle to try and compete with existing services.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (4, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887163)

I wouldn't sell the equipment. If you have a colo you already do business with and a lot of extra server hardware, try subleasing it to someone you think might need some extra server capacity.

Sure, it's a lot of work to find customers, but with that much hardware sitting around you have a lot to offer.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (3, Insightful)

David E. Smith (4570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886569)

It takes a decent amount of electricity to run that much hardware. That may not be the kind of "donation" the OP had in mind - donating to the local power utility.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (5, Insightful)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886693)

Even if he tried to do something profitable using them, between paying for power and bandwidth to operate them, it would have to be a real business model to even expect to break even in the modern economy of cheap professional server hosts. If there is a local university by you, I'd advertise trying to donate it to a local college or University with engineering/computer science programs. Often students just need academic clusters for the experience of parallel programming problems, and of course it could even help in minor actually useful research. And I'm sure they could help you work out a way to get some sort of tax recognition for the donation.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888757)

I collect older server hardware, and use it to play with at home. I've got a sunfire 280R awhile back, for like $70 shipped. I ordered some used harddrives for it,and after finding the dvd drive didn't work, I learned how to jumpstart it from a linux box to install Solaris. I'm currently about to figure how to get it running with a T3 raid array I got for about $80. I have a home business cox cable isp account...and figure why not play with doing some local hosting for people. I don't figure I'll make a ton of money, but, if I could host single pages for $10/mo...get 100 people going on that...that's a quick $1K a month. I've gotten things like a compaq proliant 7000....for like $12. I bought about 35 used drives for maybe $9 apiece...put linux on it, and that is my personal webserver....I've done the same with older sun boxes...one for an email servers, etc.

Sure, it is a little overkill for personal stuff, but, it is a fun learning experience too. I host stuff for friends on occasion. And I'm working on ideas for stuff to try to host to sell for a buck or two on the side. I am incorporated, so I get to write off everything....

Too much power? I've not run into that really. Sure it gets a little warm in my office/server room during the summer and the AC runs a little higher, but, it isn't gonna break the bank.

Hell...at the very least, I figure there are a ton of people out here that don't know you can get free porn on USENET...why not write a script to scrape naked chick images off there, and serve them to idiots for $10/month? Just because someone else does it doesn't mean you can't do it and make $$ off it. Heck,, maybe even try to do a little of the domain parking thing, and collect money off google ads or whatnot.

No..none of it will make you rich, but, certainly you can use this older equipment to make a little money, and it is a fun opportunity to learn on what used to be top of the line equipment.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886831)

So, donate them to a charitable organization that can use them. My wife and I sit on the board of directors of two such organizations that would use them as webservers in a co-lo. Contact me for full details.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887115)

On that note I've got an IBM eServer 325 which I bought and will probably never use. I guess I could just donate it, since nobody seems to want to buy it. I don't want to ship it though, so if anyone could find me a charity in Lake County, California which could use it, I'll likely just go drop it off. Barring that, if someone in the area wants to pay me to implement it for them, they can have it for free. It's got 2GB RAM and an AMI MegaRAID Elite 1500, plus a 120GB EIDE disk.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (5, Funny)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886611)

Have you thought about just selling the servers?

Just leave the garage door open for a few hours one night, and the problem will probably take care of itself. :)

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26886677)

Great idea! What's your address?

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (5, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887079)

Have you thought about just selling the servers?

Let's say the 17 U1 servers cost 2,500 each. And let's say that selling them now would gain 1,250 each. That's 21,250 dollars available there.

Now let's say that Moore's Law continues to hold. And that you need the additional capacity when the economy makes a miraculous turnaround in 2 years. By that time, it should cost you less than 21,250 to get the same capacity back. And you would be doing it in half of the number of servers, which implies a space and power savings.

In that case, it is downright advantageous to sell now, buy back later. It all depends upon when you think you will need the capacity again. Too soon, and you will pay through the nose for selling. Too far away, and not selling now saddles you with old hardware.

Other options ---

If you're set on keeping them, I see only a few other options. One would be to see if any established small-to-medium sized businesses would like to lease the capacity of your servers. Perhaps those companies who sell time on private servers on video games could use them when the next one releases. Web hosting is probably a bust, but I wouldn't be surprised if a local university would be interested in leasing the iron for better rates than your garage pays. There is also cpushare.com and other cloud computing projects, but it doesn't seem like they're paying out at all.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887581)

Not only that, but while physical hardware depreciates in value, money can appreciate in value.

Assuming values are in Canadian dollars (I know they're not, but just assume), and you stick them into a 2-year GIC (3% interest, ING Direct).

That nets you $22,544 after those two years, a $1,294 earnings. And with the current recession, that's almost certainly going to be way higher than inflation.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888527)

That's not true. Well, it would be if the inflation rate were really that low. The problem is that what you're referring to as inflation is really an increase in the price of a section of commodities.

The real inflation rate is based entirely upon the rate at which the local country prints money. Right now that rate is way, way over 3%, nobody really knows what it is because the US stopped keeping track of the money supply, but it's going to be quite high.

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (1)

slipnslidemaster (516759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887255)

1.) Install in garage rack
2.) Configure Beowolf cluster
3.) ...
4.) Profit!

Re:Donate to At Home Projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888605)

worldcommunitygrid.org

Torrents (2, Funny)

neoform (551705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886507)

Lots and lots of torrents from the empornium.

eat pies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26886527)

Pies are good. Especially pies.

Re:eat pies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26886607)

What about piezoelectric magpies?

Self-employment (5, Insightful)

David E. Smith (4570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886539)

Start competing with your employer. If they can afford to do whatever it is they do, and still just give away thousands of dollars in gear, there's obviously room for improvement.

Re:Self-employment (1)

ZygnuX (1365897) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886795)

Mod parent up!
That's really the idea

Re:Self-employment (2, Informative)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887877)

I heard a similar story at one company I worked at. An IT manager ran an ISP off the spare capacity of the server farm and bandwidth for years before someone in higher management ordered an audit. Needless to say, he ran south to the border (no, it wasn't Taco Bell).

Donate them. (5, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886571)

Donate them to Pirate Bay. If nothing else, it will help them with the streaming video for their trial. :)
Or, you could run Crysis in software rendering mode.
Or rent it out to spammers, crackers, etc.

Seriously, though....you could probably rent out time on it to researchers for less than most supercomputer time costs. Especially since the hardware costs you nothing. All you have to pay for is power. Figure out how much it uses running full tilt, double or triple that cost, install Linux on the thing, and rent out CPU time.

Maybe you could even be part of the next big breakthrough in security research.

Re:Donate them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887649)

Maybe you could even be part of the next big breakthrough in security research.

What is "security research"?

Run DF at full framerate (nt) (1)

theilliterate (1381151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886579)

nt = nice tunnels

Liquidate... (3, Interesting)

ghostis (165022) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886581)

If you don't have an immediate use, liquidate them while they still have value. IME, they will cost you hundreds to recycle later :-/... OTOH, they are a sunk cost to the business, so hanging on to them could be useful - if you think the business will need to scale up again at some point.

-Ghostis

Re:Liquidate... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887085)

Good advice. Few things depreciate in value faster than computers, and eventually their value will be negative - using them for anything won't be cost-effective and disposing of them or storing them will cost money. Sell them now and buy equivalent ones back in six months if you need them and you will make a profit.

If they are sitting in your garage, they probably can't easily be turned into a profitable service. The only market would be organisations that want a big chunk of computing power periodically, but can't afford their own cluster. You might try offering a time share in a cluster to schools, but you'd be competing with companies like Sun who can charge $1 per CPU/hour.

If they were still in the colo, I'd say you should talk to some of the local web design companies about offering them hosting customized for their needs, but without a slab of spare bandwidth that's not an option.

Re:Liquidate... (4, Interesting)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887631)

I'd argue he should sell 16 and keep one for himself. While computers do rapidly depreciate in value, having a high-end server for home use can be nifty (so long as you keep it someplace where the noise won't bother you).

Re:Liquidate... (1)

mediocubano (801656) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887451)

Great answer. Why not convert them into cold hard cash. And once you get the cash then you may be able to put that to better use than taking up space.

Or you could send it to me if you have too much {computers|cash} laying around.

Re:Liquidate... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888851)

"If you don't have an immediate use, liquidate them while they still have value. IME, they will cost you hundreds to recycle later :-/.."

Recycle? Where do you live? We just throw them in the trash and let the garbage men haul them away, like anything else....

Have you tried.... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886583)

Leaving them outside Home Depot at 7 a.m. with a hungry look on their face?

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of 1U servers.....

Can you donate them to schools?

The @home projects are quite worthy

Sell them. (4, Insightful)

Eevee (535658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886585)

Somebody gets cheap hardware, your company gets more cash, the servers get used for something worthwhile...everyone wins.

Re:Sell them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887135)

This seems like the best plan... Because all that hardware is going to make someone's elec bill spike, be it at home or at work.

BOINC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26886605)

Just use BOINC.

Eucalyptus (4, Interesting)

trveler (214816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886613)

Set up a Eucalyptus [ucsb.edu] installation and compete with Amazon. OK, not really, but you can have an EC2 workalike without the usage charges. Use this setup as a sandbox to test migrating your current IT infrastructure to AWS. When it all works, hit the switch and actually make the move to EC2. Then, sell your no-longer-used hardware. You just converted Capital Expenses into Operational Expenses.

Sell 'em (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886615)

Sell 'em .... really. You have no impending use for 'em, in a few years they won't be worth as much. Sell 'em and take the wife/girlfriend on a vacation, go on a vacation by yourself, pay extra towards your mortgage, credit card bills, etc.

Buy some bandwidth and (-1, Troll)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886629)

Use a reverse ssh tunnel [caseybanner.ca] !

Re:Buy some bandwidth and (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887689)

THIRD LINKSPAM TODAY from this fucking asshole. i hope you get banned, shitstain!

Well you could always benefit the hacker community (5, Funny)

nightowl03d (882197) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886645)

Just install XP without any patches on them and hook them up to the internet without a firewall. I can assure you they will be fully utilized in short order.

RENDER FARM !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26886647)

If this were me i would hire them out to anybody who wanted the extra processor power for complex renders. Tha way they can pay for themselves and then some.

JIT. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886651)

I guess the first thing you should do is study Just In Time Inventory so you wouldn't be in that situation.

However I would suggest that you use them to calculate business statistics for your company. Where are your costumers coming from and when are they leaving. What price ranges do they seem to like and dislike. BI is often better then intuition when solving business problems and some of that requires a lot of crunching.

eBay it! (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886659)

I know I could probably make use of one of these boxes. It's a little stronger than the server I use now.

eBid it! feeBay Sucks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887845)

Use ebid.net instead. Lower fees, less BS.

Some ideas; (2, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886671)

For the IT guy:

Start building clusters (great practice and fun). You can use the cluster many ways like a distcc 'box' (now you can compile Gentoo in less then a month!), or build a 'faster then real-time' video encoder/decoder.

For the Business guy:

Sell pre-made servers to local businesses. Using virtualization, create one image for 'basic domain/workgroup' that allows file & print sharing + email, and then it's simple to tweak the few config files per site.

Put it to work, or at least prepare it (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886673)

If you're virtualizing, you can prepare your extra hardware to host more virtual machines. Even if they're turned off, you can have your infrastructure prepared for rapid expansion.

You are virtualizing, right?

Another thought, eBay.

Spend more money (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886713)

Just remember, to do anything useful, you'll need to pay Microsoft $20,000+ for a server operating system on all 34 servers. Oh, and don't forget all your CAL costs if you dare touch Active Directory in any form or fashion.

Re:Spend more money (1)

Rivabem (312224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886981)

Windows?

But isn't the complaint about wasting money and FLOPS?

Re:Spend more money (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887801)

No, his complaint was about "putting them to work"... and nothing will get 34 servers working like running Server 2003 and Exchange Server with 2 users. Hell, unless you are building an actual business with them just pir8 the software and call it a day. It's not like MS is going to come after you for the servers in your garage...

SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26886731)

http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/

Not a waste of flops.... (3, Insightful)

subreality (157447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886745)

The IT guy in me thinks that's a waste of FLOPS

It's not a waste of FLOPS. There are plenty of spare MIPS and FLOPS in the world - witness the amount that get donated to folding@home, seti@home, various cipher cracking contests, etc. While you too could donate to those causes, I'd suggest against it - it's one thing to donate niced cycles of a machine that otherwise has to be running, but it's a tremendous waste of power to spin up that many boxes just to hand out cycles.

Recognize those servers for what they are - a waste of *money*. You sunk too much cash into a resource (and that's fine, no business has perfect foresight, and you had to anticipate potential needs). Now liquidate them and get your money out so you can spend it on something better than depreciation. If it turns out you need them in a year, I assure you you can buy servers for less $/FLOP from the liquidators at that time.

University (2, Interesting)

jmknsd (1184359) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886751)

Donate it to a local university.
Or failing that, donate it to my university.
who knows, the tax writeoff might leave you better off then the cost of electricity to do something with it?

Re:University (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887669)

Would the tax writeoff really be more than simply selling the hardware outright?

Re:University (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888693)

As long as the write-off isn't less, I don't see the problem here.

Setup an ssh account... (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886773)

...and then email the login information to me.

One question... (2, Insightful)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886807)

I now have a stack of 17, 1U servers in my garage

Sorry, where do you live again? Seriously though, think of the power and cooling you're saving. In all honesty, sell them off to someone who can use the horsepower, and in return you get some hard to come by money. Simple.

donate to non-profits (4, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886817)

Ive worked in non-profit IT and servers is one thing they always needed. They dont really need more hands at soup kitchens, they need equipment and expertise. I bet your local food bank would love that stuff. I also bet their existing servers are a couple of old non-raid desktops moved to a closet. You can probably just call someone at Feeding America and they would dole out the servers to deserving foodbanks via their grants system.

Also, if the businessman in you doesnt have a business plan then theyre just going to waste and will probably end up in a landfill. You might as well give them away to someone who needs them.

Re:donate to non-profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887921)

Also small police and fire stations could all use an upgrade, I've seen them and their old puddy hp towers from the early 90's, trying to run a 911 call center.

Beowult (1)

paultag (1284116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886835)

Beowulf Cluster! With that kind of power you can kick some serious bit ass. Netboot them all and set them up for a nice little side project, or setup a server farm to run your site. With that kind of power I don't know what I _wouldn't_ do!

Re:Beowulf (1)

paultag (1284116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886851)

Beowulf, that is.

Re:Beowult (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887153)

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank whoever coined the word 'Beowulf' as a very convenient shorthand form of 'I don't know anything about cluster computing, please disregard my opinion.' I can't begin to imagine how much time this has saved people over the years.

Actually... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886855)

one crazy idea would be to set up a compile farm for Linux, BSD, etc. Only make them do ads on them.

I'm ashamed... (1)

DanWS6 (1248650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886863)

Not a single "Finally run vista and play crysis" post to be found.

Re:I'm ashamed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887329)

Hah!

136 processors and 272 GB of RAM is nowhere near enough the minimum requirements. Besides, it's missing the 272 graphics cards.

Re:I'm ashamed... (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888371)

We're all waiting for Duke Nukem Forever on Windows Seven. (I'm playing a pre-release on Emacs 23.)

Do I Need To Say It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26886885)

1. co-lo servers
2. Start a pR0n website
3. Profit!!!

(no need for ???? step)

Power costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26886963)

Before you decide to power them up in your basement research electricity costs. Whatever your dedicated cause may be I doubt it will be worth hundreds of dollars per month on your electric bill.

Other ideas (1)

ozbon (99708) | more than 5 years ago | (#26886985)

Suggestions :

Porn Site (plenty of space/processor for video rendering) ( helps get some income for the company)
Render Farm
Torrent Server

Use them for some hosting of local businesses and/or charities - again, helps get some income...

Sell them ASAP (2, Insightful)

Evro (18923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887049)

They don't appreciate in value. Virtualize the rest of your servers and sell the ones you free up from doing that too.

Scaling soon? (2, Interesting)

tod8688 (720002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887145)

If you have the spare hardware, racks to mount it in, and the juice to run it, why not build a test environment? Just replicate work and scale it out. Do the things you wish you could do at work. Then when the time comes you already have the future expansion plan ready to go. It may suck to even think about "work" after you get home from your day job. But if you like taking on big projects, why not?

Create Dev/Test/Prod Environments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887155)

The following comment only applies if you can put those servers back in a colo or some hosting facility. If you can't, you cannot use those servers. The noise, the heat, and the power requirements are too great to just put them in an office somewhere. Your company might be better off selling them and writing off the loss.

If you can put them in a proper facility, you should either be running VMWare ESX or Xen and then you should setup actual dev, test, and production environments that so many IT companies don't really have except for what individual projects have cobbled together. Do a staging environment too, if you're anal retentive. Then setup a build server (CruiseControl is the only one I know) to build from subversion and then setup your issue tracking system to deploy to new environments based on the proper approval from testers or managers. You will spend a lot of time building it at first and save many man years later on.

putting servers to work. (4, Funny)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887161)

Fire the busboys and have the unused servers bus tables. The bottom line is that you ultimately have to increase patron traffic if you want your business to thrive. Have you considered businessman's lunch specials? Really hot hostesses? Maybe your cook sucks? Change your menu.

Don't sell... (2, Interesting)

cdpage (1172729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887171)

Don't Sell. Unless you don't think you'll get the workload back for a very long time. You have a serious investment here... Have fun with it, and make it useful for the time being. Set it up to run any of the @home projects for now. Sell it all and loose your investment. Keep it, and you'll be set to keep your business flowing. I suggest Folding@home... seems to be the most worth while

Re:Don't sell... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888655)

I'm surprised it took this long for anybody to mention it. It depends how many the OP has over all, but you definitely want to have some excess capacity that can be brought online for those sudden unpredictable spikes in activity. Regular spikes should already be factored in.

I suspect though that if the OP has enough servers to max out the bandwidth that some of the extras should be sold and use the money for bandwidth and related costs.

17? That's an odd number... (2, Funny)

Reibisch (1261448) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887183)

You sure that one didn't get up and walk from your garage into your computer room? :)

Easy solution: (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887249)

Do you have any large, heavy doors that need to be propped open?

Rainbow tables (4, Interesting)

richrumble (988398) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887253)

Create rainbow tables and charge a small fee for access. If you target M$ Office passwords, specifically the password to open, 40-bit RC4, target the possible keys because there are less possible keys than are possible passwords. See Ophcrack office, Rainbow crack office and Elcomsoft AOPB.

Sure fire way (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887275)

to utilize these servers to make you money is opening up a spamming business, but you aren't that evil, right?

Re:Sure fire way (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888685)

Spamming isn't evil, it's a triumph of free market enterprise in it's war against the standard of living and common American values.

Electricity is costing you $$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887303)

Those things probably cost $150-$200 a year to power 24/7, so you might want to consider is what you end up doing with them enough to justify the expense (if you're watching pennies, you need to watch every penny). I think I'm also of the opinion to 'sell now' while you can still get something of value for the machines. The cash you get now might help you through another month of operations, whereas keeping them around 'in the hopes we eventually get funding' is not really worth the effort.

Cluster (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887385)

Beowulf those servers.

Sell the CPU time. You'd be able to afford the electricity and heat your home from the servers alone. Then you'd also be making extra money to cool it in the summer and probably go buy yourself some space in a datacenter after a few weeks ;-)

vigilante SPAMMER? (1)

cdpage (1172729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887391)

SPAM SPAMMERS?! :P hmm...

"Would you like to play a game of chess? (1)

bubbaD (182583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887393)

"Would you like to play a game of chess?
I play very well." HAL 9000

Or maybe Blinkenlights?

God, I'm old!!!

Adopt a mad scientist (4, Insightful)

tibman (623933) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887413)

It's the perfect time to adopt a mad scientist. Seriously, how cool would this be to a Neural Net researcher? I honestly think you should put an advert out saying "looking for researcher to utilize private cluster with 272gb ram and 136 procs".

GIMPS (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887473)

Some of my servers that don't have much to do contribute to GIMPS [mersenne.org]

Zimory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887477)

sell to the cloud, check out zimory

Sell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887503)

I could use some cheap compute servers for my new business.

Local universities would be happy (1)

orrij (515114) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887619)

Give someone at a local university a call and they will be happy to put a load on the servers.

Computational algebra and other fundamental fields don't get the large grants that the more applied fields get so they are always looking for more computing power on the cheap. 8GB RAM per processor is also a minimum for many of the calculations since group sizes can grow very fast.

Easy... (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887645)

1) Make a copy of the hard drives
2) Erase hard drives
3) Create a listing for the servers on ebay
4) Create a listing for confidential company data
5) ...?
6) Profit

Leave powered off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887699)

A powered on server costs your company money; it uses power to run. Power costs money. Having it powered off costs less. If you power up the server, you may also pay a cost to keep it cool; you air conditioning system has to work harder drawing more power.

If the server will not be used, you may want to sell it and stop paying rent on the storage space for the server.

Start a web hosting service (2, Interesting)

Akir (878284) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887705)

It could possibly be the most lucrative income for your start-up for a little while, and it's way easier to implement then some of the other ideas presented here. All you need to purchase is a small block of IP addresses and a domain name. Assuming that you already have fast network hardware.

Just don't recycle them. People in china are dying because of the hazardous materials in electronic devices.

wikileaks.org need money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26887749)

find a way for them to profit from your hardware and you'll be the ./-all-time-hero.

3D Render Farm (1)

jddj (1085169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26887755)

Investigate viability of a 3D Render Farm business.

People doing 3D work don't need this kind of iron to design and animate; they only need it for final render. Makes sense to rent time on it.

There are business out there doing this now - don't know if anyone's made a success of it.

Sell ASAP (4, Insightful)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888041)

Buying computers is a cost sink. You buy computers and amortize the cost of them over a few years. You ONLY buy computers because you need to do computing work.

If you don't need the computing power, sell off 90% of them at a great price (maybe 20% below market value), RIGHT NOW. Holding onto depreciating assets with no return on them is no better than tossing money into a furnace.

Keep a couple of 'em around for growth, spares, and new projects. Sell the rest, and when you need the computing power, buy something 'x' times faster for the same amount of money.

beowulf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888151)

I can't believe I'm the first to say

"Imagine a beowulf cluster of those"

cluster them and give access to your engineers (1)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888487)

at least at my company, compiling things always takes forever. if you take a few of those systems (some to all) and cluster them together, you can construct a powerhouse cluster capable of compiling things significantly faster than anybody's laptop. give your engineering team (and your power users) shell access to the cluster and set it up to (cross-)compile for whatever laptops and servers you have and watch everybody become more productive.

this can also be worked into good extra-curricular skill building, as people start to toy around with the system and write less-efficient code in order to get stuff done faster, then later tweak that code into more usable structures for production use. tons of opportunity there.

within IT, you can also use a few of them as spare servers for staging crazy new projects, like (for example) if you're considering Zimbra vs Scalix vs Kolab vs OpenExchange for mail solutions, you could implement them ALL without much worry. since your hardware is likely all identical, you would be able to create a base install and just copy it 16 times, affording you the ability to wipe systems and revert to a fresh install every time. just be sure to re-generate your ssh keys.

Host porn (3, Funny)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888825)

Porn ALWAYS pays.

"store it" at a local film school or University. (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888905)

You can probably get a tax break along with some good publicity (not to mention the warm fuzzy feeling that philanthropy gives you). ...

"if only I had a beowulf cluster of those" will suddenly become more than a FP catchphrase.

Make a movie (1)

jayrtfm (148260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889007)

Your local High School or college film/media/art department would love to have access to your render farm. Some programs which can take advantage of it include Blender, Art of Illusion, Hash, Bryce, Carrara etc

Wont someone think of the coal/carbon? srslyplz (4, Insightful)

nfsilkey (652484) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889051)

If you dont have a pressing need, why bother powering them up? Theres a reason $job pulled them from the colo. Im sure they are hungry heat-factories. Keep that green in your wallet when its time to pay the monthly power utility bill and just dont power them up.

And if youre not going to spin them up, punt them to someone who needs/wants them while they still have some value before Moore renders them useless ...

Sell them on Ebay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889147)

they draw too much power.

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