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Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do With Half a Rack of Server Space?

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the give-it-a-piece-of-my-mind dept.

IT 208

New submitter Christian Gainsbrugh (3766717) writes I work at a company that is currently transitioning all our servers into the cloud. In the interim we have half a rack of server space in a great datacenter that will soon be sitting completely idle for the next few months until our lease runs out. Right now the space is occupied by around 8 HP g series servers, a watchguard xtm firewall, Cisco switch and some various other equipment. All in all there are probably around 20 or so physical XEON processors, and probably close to 10 tb of storage among all the machines. We have a dedicated 10 mbs connection that is burstable to 100mbs.

I'm curious what Slashdot readers would do if they were in a similar situation. Is there anything productive that could be done with these resources? Obviously something revenue generating is great, but even if there is something novel that could be done with these servers we would be interested in putting them to good use.

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Crypto! (5, Insightful)

chucklebutte (921447) | about 3 months ago | (#47543711)

Mine the shit out of any crypto that tickles your fancy!

mine protein structures (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 3 months ago | (#47543967)

install the rosetta @ home boinc project and predict and desing protein strucures.

Re:Crypto! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544067)

Yeah right, you're not going to mine very much with a handful of CPU's. Consider a single GPU is equivalent to hundreds or even thousands of CPU's.

Re:Crypto! (1)

witherstaff (713820) | about 3 months ago | (#47544123)

Unless you hit one of the alt-coins that doesn't have a GPU miner. A variety of those are around.

Raspberry Pi (1)

Philip Mather (2889417) | about 3 months ago | (#47543721)

...a baking tray full of them for HA obvs.

Offer it to archiveteam to use in the mean time. (3, Insightful)

djsmiley (752149) | about 3 months ago | (#47543725)

We need help in every form we can get.

http://archiveteam.org/index.p... [archiveteam.org]

power, so no, not really? (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 3 months ago | (#47543803)

Unless you're getting power donated as well, you definitely should not be accepting every machine you can get.

If this stuff more than a few years old, the power bill is going to quickly eclipse the cost differential of better hardware.

Electricity costs vary, but a ballpark of 1 watt/year = $1 is roughly right around here. That doesn't include cooling. A probably conservative but very rough ballpark power estimate would be 3kW for that equipment...I didn't count hard drives, the firewall, the router, etc.

Re:power, so no, not really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543903)

Clearly you are unaware of what he means with offer it to the archiveteam for now. The archiveteam writes scripts/programs that go download old sites that are being shuttered and tries to get a backup of as much data as possible. The way the OP can help is by giving the archiveteam access to those servers to go download defunct sites and temporarily store them before shipping them off to archive.org.

Re:power, so no, not really? (-1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 3 months ago | (#47544135)

Clearly you read neither the slashdot text (which says "what should we do with these resources") not "what should we do with this website content." It's not even said that the setup is running a public-facing website, or even a website at all.

The commenter very clearly meant "donate the equipment to us."

Re: power, so no, not really? (3, Insightful)

s4m7 (519684) | about 3 months ago | (#47544289)

I thought the commenter's clear meaning was, "allow us to use the hardware in the racks during the remaining lease time."

Re: power, so no, not really? (2)

djsmiley (752149) | about 3 months ago | (#47544359)

You sir are correct :)

Offer it to archiveteam to use in the mean time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544323)

Um... how?
"Archive Team is a loose collective of rogue archivists"
With such a loose organization, I question how much value there will be in being able to use such a temporary resource. Great, we can make a backup/archive copy of that website, in case it goes down. We'll make that copy on this half-rack of computers that is almost certain to go down in a few months (or several if we're lucky).

Whatever gets stored on that system is going to need to be getting archived soon.

Re:Offer it to archiveteam to use in the mean time (2)

djsmiley (752149) | about 3 months ago | (#47544383)

We graved all of yahoo videos in 3 days, we can move fast when needed to.

Bit Coins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543733)

Time to mine bitcoins!

Keep It Ready (5, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 3 months ago | (#47543735)

Keep everything ready, so you can switch back when the cloud services fail and/or your management team changes.

Re:Keep It Ready (3, Insightful)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 3 months ago | (#47543937)

Pretty much the only sensible answer in this discussion so far - and based upon the number of people (trolls? shills?) saying that the gear should be used for mining crypto-currency, I could probably make a small fortune as a security consultant looking for abusive sysadmins wasting company assets for dubious gains.
Let's not forget, your employer is moving to the cloud either because they do not see value in what you provide, or they want you focusing on more strategic initiatives. You should probably spend some time cooking up something amazing in the old environment or, worst case scenario, using it as an opportunity to brush up on your skills and certifications.

Re:Keep It Ready (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#47544079)

Or their management is from the cult of MBA and fears actually owning anything, or they just saw an ad for the cloud and got sparkly eyes and said "ooooooooh, shiny!".

Meanwhile, a good admin will normally be just a bit bored because everything is running smoothly. It doesn't hurt if they have a zero priority thing to fiddle with as long as they continue working on the real mission.

Re:Keep It Ready (1)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 3 months ago | (#47544345)

Or their management is from the cult of MBA and fears actually owning anything, or they just saw an ad for the cloud and got sparkly eyes and said "ooooooooh, shiny!".

I don't know of many small-to-medium sized businesses who migrate to the cloud because it's shiny. They all do it because they either read somewhere or were told by someone (most likely a salesperson) that it would save them money. Contrast that with the sysadmin constantly reminding them of the need for more hardware, more licenses, more overtime, etc.
Anyone who tells you an IaaS migration is about something other than cost is probably trying to sell you IaaS. Fear of running your own infrastructure is just another way of saying that you don't know how to model your costs accurately, which I can guarantee 99.9% of MBA's do not.

Re:Keep It Ready (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 3 months ago | (#47544083)

"Pretty much the only sensible answer in this discussion so far - and based upon the number of people (trolls? shills?) saying that the gear should be used for mining crypto-currency, I could probably make a small fortune as a security consultant looking for abusive sysadmins wasting company assets for dubious gains. Let's not forget, your employer is moving to the cloud either because they do not see value in what you provide, or they want you focusing on more strategic initiatives."

So those are the only two choices then? You probably could make a small fortune as a security consultant looking for abusive sysadmins wasting company assets for dubious gains. All you'd have to do is throw around a few buzz words and use some marketing speak to the same idiots that made the decision to "move to the cloud". That being said, let us not confuse "making a fortune" with "being competent".*

* You only had to read as far as ""Obviously something revenue generating is great" to realize that he wasn't planning on pocketing the bitcoins, etc.

Re:Keep It Ready (4, Insightful)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 3 months ago | (#47544305)

Actually, no, there's only one reason any company moves to the cloud - because they think it will save them money. In-house disaster recovery is expensive. Employees are expensive. Refreshing hardware, licenses, and support agreements cost a lot of capital. The allure of trading all of that away for a fixed monthly cost is too strong to resist for most decision-makers.
I don't want to sound overly bleak here, but anyone asking the Slashdot crowd for ideas on how to generate revenue for their employer using commodity hardware is probably so far removed the actual business that their days are numbered. Your Infrastructure was outsourced to an IaaS provider because they don't want to pay for the iron. Next, it's PaaS - your hypervisors, databases, and operating systems, and you with it.
If you want some real advice, use it as a DR site (as GP stated) and make sure the business understands the risks associated with shutting it down, ensuring your ass is covered by having the CFO and/or CIO issue a statement to that effect (they will pin it on you when the cloud goes down regardless, because if you really read those IaaS contracts, the provider cannot be held liable). Then, walk away from it. Divorce yourself from the infrastructure discussions as much as you can, get involved with bigger and better initiatives so that once the salesmen show up with their PaaS offering, you're too well engrained in the big picture that they can't live without you.

Re:Keep It Ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544505)

Real talk.

Re:Keep It Ready (5, Insightful)

multimediavt (965608) | about 3 months ago | (#47543983)

Keep everything ready, so you can switch back when the cloud services fail and/or your management team changes.

That was going to be my suggestion as well. I would not "get rid of it" or "donate it", Hell, I wouldn't let the lease expire either! I would keep that half-rack-o-stuff around for at least the next two years to see how well the "Cloud" does for you with the provider of choice. Plus, it never hurts to have a set of backup servers around that you control (that mirrors the data in the cloud, at least!). I have absolutely no faith in third-parties controlling my data and critical services. I might take advantage of some services but I would NEVER, EVER put my data under someone else's control ... did I say EVER? It's just a really bad idea and experience will teach you why. Good luck!

Re:Keep It Ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544299)

Yeah, yeah... I know a lot of people just don't trust the cloud with all of their data.

I think a lot of people could learn a thing or two from Code Spaces.
They really trusted this modern technology you're speaking of, and see how well it helped them. From the recent update about the Code Spaces site [slashdot.org] , I'm betting that their day-to-day operational expenses have plummeted.

Re:Keep It Ready (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 3 months ago | (#47544533)

If you trust essentially your entire business exclusively to another business, you are foolish. They could fold, go out of business, change business model or be raided and shout down by the US government. Have a backup somewhere else, period. Or look at the failed companies and projects that didn't... Code Spaces anyone?

One of the most common failover mistakes... (3, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 3 months ago | (#47544113)

Keep everything ready, so you can switch back when the cloud services fail and/or your management team changes.

Did you miss the part about them trying to cut opex? *siiiiiigh*

Even that aside...Maybe the latter, but not the former. One of the most common mistakes of failover environments is using the "old stuff" for failover/backup.

That works great, until you exceed the computing/storage capacity/bandwidth of the original hardware.

Let's say in a year traffic is up 30%. Something goes wrong, big time, with Teh Cloudz. You've done a good job of keeping the old hardware current and replicated. You 'flip the switch'...and the old environment promptly chokes...oops.

Re:One of the most common failover mistakes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544213)

Did you miss the part about them trying to cut opex? *siiiiiigh*

Well, at least until lease is up it is probably not that big an opex delta.

Even that aside...Maybe the latter, but not the former. One of the most common mistakes of failover environments is using the "old stuff" for failover/backup.

True, but in this particular case the options in case of failure or 'complete failure' or 'miserable, but half functional access'. Also, there isn't an indication they are moving to 'the cloud'' for performance reasons. They may likely have even less capacity than they do now.

Re:Keep It Ready (3, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 3 months ago | (#47544121)

I'd be setting it up to keep a running backup of the data in the cloud, with the aforementioned 'keeping it ready' to serve from that data when the cloud gives way to sunshine.

Offer cloud services (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544315)

I hear there are lots of businesses willing to pay good money for it.

of course (5, Funny)

Sergio Castiñeyras (3767091) | about 3 months ago | (#47543737)

porn, every flavor

Re:of course (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544233)

The storage, it's insufficient! They better call Seagate before implementing this solution.

What do breasts and toy trains have in common? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544457)

They are meant for children but it's the fathers that play with them.

backups (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543741)

your ass will thank you when your cloud goes kaput.

porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543749)

porn

lol.. captcha everyday :)

Re:porn (3, Funny)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 3 months ago | (#47543919)

This is just half a rack... I'm more of a full rack guy.

Re:porn (1)

bigfinger76 (2923613) | about 3 months ago | (#47544207)

They tend to downgrade themselves rapidly, unfortunately. Tragic.

Re:porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544311)

And with that, I have received my daily minimum recommended portion of thoughtless sexism.

Ah /., you old reliable.

Darknet. TOR router. (1)

ALeader71 (687693) | about 3 months ago | (#47543761)

Build a darknet. Maybe a TOR router? Donate CPU time to charity or some great number crunching project.

Turn them into cash (1)

UrsaMajor987 (3604759) | about 3 months ago | (#47543765)

There are lots of firms who buy used equipment. Get a quote from them. Sell the surplus equipment and buy something you do need.

Re:Turn them into cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543837)

"[...] until our lease runs out."

Re:Turn them into cash (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 3 months ago | (#47543909)

There are places that will rent the rack space, but you provide the hardware to go in it. It's useful as you can more easily move the hardware to a new location, should they give you bad service. ... so just because a lease was mentioned, doesn't necesarily mean that they're leasing the servers.

The only sensible thing to do (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543773)

Transition all our servers from the cloud back to your physical servers.

Bitcoin mining? (1)

Media Archivist (3478167) | about 3 months ago | (#47543781)

Maybe mine a coin or two?

Re:Bitcoin mining? (1)

kbdd (823155) | about 3 months ago | (#47543825)

Yeah, probably the most sensible thing to do considering the short time frame.

Good luck (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 3 months ago | (#47543847)

With the numbers that ASICs are doing these days can you even get one coin using CPUs alone?

Re:Good luck (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47543971)

You can't even get one coin using ASICs alone, unless you buy some three-thousand-dollar monster box packed with row upon row of them. And even then it would take weeks.

Bitcoin mining now is done using pools.

Re:Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544203)

bitcoin is so last year (or two) for mining. people then used to mine litecoin which is now replaced for the smart ones by some more interesting coins like those with cryptonight alogrithm e.g. Monero/XMR

Re:Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544177)

there are coins that are CPU/(GPU) only. for example mining monero/xmr) should be cost effective if the CPU supports AES instructions.

City Agriculture (4, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 3 months ago | (#47543805)

Make a mini-grow-op.They'll never flag the extra power used for lamps.

OG slashdot response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543807)

"Imagine a beowulf cluster of these"

Re:OG slashdot response (0)

jones_supa (887896) | about 3 months ago | (#47543865)

A Beowulf cluster generally consists of "ghetto hardware", for example cheap custom-built PCs or Raspberry Pis. If these are professional servers, they do not classify as such.

Re:OG slashdot response (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#47544339)

Actually, no. Some beowulf clusters such as the Stone Souper are built that way. Most are built from brand new top of the line hardware.

CPU time for charity (1, Insightful)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about 3 months ago | (#47543821)

If you think good will for your company would go further than a few cryptocoins, you could do World Community Grid. [worldcommunitygrid.org]

Re:CPU time for charity (1)

skids (119237) | about 3 months ago | (#47544229)

This suggestion would probably be the least work to set up and then tear down. Assuming the existing hardware is running a supported platform, it's just packages and a small amount of configuration and can run in an unprivileged account. When you get towards the end of the unplug date, start disabling new jobs from tasks with long-running jobs so you don't leave too many unfinished ones. And yes the WCG does have tasks that need storage, not just CPU.

Skynet Development (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543833)

I would help Skynet become self-aware by adding more capacity. Nothing bad could ever come from that, right?

Seriously? (1, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about 3 months ago | (#47543843)

Ebay! An then you have the space for a pool-room, a porn-station, a man-cave or another dozen things with a dash in it.

tor exit node (1)

Haven (34895) | about 3 months ago | (#47543859)

do it

Re:tor exit node (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 months ago | (#47544325)

Yeah, 10 Meg isn't tremendous, so a Tor exit is probably as good as you can get. It's too small for a mirror host or a torrent seeder.

I'm assuming you're unwilling to incur 95th percentile charges on your burstable. Tor allows easy bandwidth limiting right in the .conf.

Still, that's only one machine - 10 meg is easy to saturate.

Do absolutely nothing to implicate yourself. (3, Insightful)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 3 months ago | (#47543873)

The case has already been made against the assemblage of substandard HP garbage occupying half a freakin rack! The person that was blamed for this probably doesn't even work at this company anymore. The best thing you can do is contact the sales guy at the data center and form an unnofficial alliance and work out some preliminary arrangement for a kickback when you reopen your account after the cloud plan goes up in smoke. Most importantly, tell no one about this. You have obviously stumbled into another exploit of the BOFH. Stay out of the office till this blows over, you don't seem to be the intended target, and are messing with forces you don't understand.

Folding@Home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543889)

You could fold some serious work units and help the guys out at Folding@Home (folding.stanford.edu) enormously...

G is for Generation (1)

CAPSLOCK2000 (27149) | about 3 months ago | (#47543897)

As far as I know there is no such thing as the HP 'g' series. The 'g' stands for 'generation' and is used for all their llines. HP uses two letters for the line, for example BL, DL or ML.

Re:G is for Generation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543979)

does it MATTER? if it DOES do yourself a FAVOR and think of something ELSE.

Save the planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543899)

Save the planet, power the systems down.

Bitcoin, rent, tor (0)

CAPSLOCK2000 (27149) | about 3 months ago | (#47543925)

If you want to make some money on them you could mine bitcoin, provided the power is already paid for and you don't care about the environment. Don't expect to make much though, it might not even be worth the time it will take you to set it up.

The only other way I can think of making a profit is renting the servers out. Good luck finding somebody that wants to pay enough to make it worth your while, virtual servers are dirt cheap. You already know that, otherwise you wouldn't be moving to the cloud.

If you want to do something nice for the internet-community you should run TOR on those nodes.

Re:Bitcoin, rent, tor (1)

thieh (3654731) | about 3 months ago | (#47543965)

For tor, if who you rent the server from has a policy for exit nodes, run some non-exit nodes

Re:Bitcoin, rent, tor (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47544009)

TOR exit nodes are in very short supply, and as a company you already have the protection of incorporation that prevents the biggest fear of exit operators (and the reason there are so few), being caught up in an investigation by police who kick down doors first and ask questions later.

Legally safe, if you've enough storage, Freenet could use more massive-storage cache nodes. Freenet has no exit to the non-freenet web, so you're not risking getting caught up in any investigation. But neither of these options involve making a profit, so you're dependent upon having someone in management who buys the ideological argument.

Really, the best options I can imagine for them profit-wise are to either flog the gear on eBay or to repurpose it into some new useful role. Perhaps a local backup server, in case of cloud or connectivity failure.

Re:Bitcoin, rent, tor (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 3 months ago | (#47544149)

TOR exit nodes are in very short supply, and as a company you already have the protection of incorporation that prevents the biggest fear of exit operators (and the reason there are so few), being caught up in an investigation by police who kick down doors first and ask questions late

LOL....

Re:Bitcoin, rent, tor (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47544455)

It's an issue. It's routine practice when investigating internet crimes to execute search warrants via raids in order to prevent destruction of evidence. If they knock nicely, the suspect can have time to overwrite files or destroy media. Storming the home and forcing everyone to the ground at gunpoint may seem a bit heavy-handed (And occasionally there is a misunderstanding resulting in a shooting) but it's the only way to ensure evidence isn't destroyed.

The concern with Tor exit nodes is that if someone does get up to something illegal via your node, it'll be traced back to you. There have been a couple of well-documented incidents, usually involving distribution of child pornography. Nothing that would stick in court, but even for the innocent getting caught up in such an investigation is a disaster. Reputation tainted, a permanent mark on the record that makes getting a job harder even if no charges are filed, and the loss of everything you own with a hard drive or flash memory - at least until the police forensics finish with it in about five years.

SETI@home or similar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543933)

SETI@home or similar
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_distributed_computing_projects

Re:SETI@home or similar (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 3 months ago | (#47544105)

A search for Management Intelligence would certainly be fruitless at his company. That much is certain!

Internet Service Provider (1)

creimer (824291) | about 3 months ago | (#47543977)

According to legend at one Fortune 500 company I worked at in Silicon Valley, a data center administrator ran an Internet Service Provider (ISP) when dial-up was still king by using the spare server and bandwidth capacity. This gig went on for a number of years until someone in the corporate office noticed that the data center was far more active than it should have been and ordered an audit. The administrator skipped town and retired to Mexico as a millionaire before the audit got completed. Not wishing to draw public attention to this oversight, the ISP went away and the data center got a new administrator.

What would I do? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 3 months ago | (#47543989)

What Would You Do With Half a Rack of Server Space?

As long as it was a fresh half rack I would cover it in a nice rub and slow roast it for about 8-12 hours on low heat. Then I would slice and serve it to 3-4 of my friends with a side of asparagus, fresh rolls, and a nice Chianti.

Re:What would I do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544019)

Dont forget to pour hot grits into your pants!

Re:What would I do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544047)

...3-4 of my NSA friends...

FTFY shillboy

Re:What would I do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544231)

You should get that butthurt treated before it becomes infected.

SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544001)

Donate that CPU time to SETI@Home. "A single message from space will show that it is possible to live through technological adolescence. . . . It is possible that the future of human civilization depends on the receipt of interstellar messages." Carl Sagan

mbs/Mbs (5, Funny)

starless (60879) | about 3 months ago | (#47544023)

I doubt you can do much with a 10 milli-bit per second connection...

(Sorry, but I'm a scientist, units are important to me...)

Re:mbs/Mbs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544393)

If you were a scientist, as you claimed, then you would know the difference between mbs (milli-bit seconds) and mb/s (milli-bits per second).

Idiot.

Re: mbs/Mbs (1)

s4m7 (519684) | about 3 months ago | (#47544519)

As a scientist, you definitely want to be precise with your fractional bits.

TOR Project (1)

Chad Smith (3448823) | about 3 months ago | (#47544051)

Donate to TOR

Learn hadoop (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544073)

You have the makings of a mini-cluster there. Take the opportunity to learn to install/maintain/query hadoop.

Folding@Home, SETI@Home (1)

sehlat (180760) | about 3 months ago | (#47544087)

Folding@Home [stanford.edu]

SETI@Home [berkeley.edu]

These guys can ALWAYS use more cycles.

Get a life? (1)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about 3 months ago | (#47544089)

Ignore them and get on with life?

install Eucalyptus (1)

WarJolt (990309) | about 3 months ago | (#47544131)

I'd install Eucalyptus and develop an application. Then when my lease ran out I'd redeploy it on AWS.

Fish Tank (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | about 3 months ago | (#47544157)

n/t

anything that cpus are good at (1)

surd1618 (1878068) | about 3 months ago | (#47544223)

Write an AI in Lisp.

It all depends (1)

Striek (1811980) | about 3 months ago | (#47544241)

This all depends any a number of factors. I can think of quite a few uses for half a rack.

The first question, asked elsewhere in this thread, is whether or not the cost of power is included. If you are also paying for power, it might well be best to shut them down and leave them idle as a cost saving measure (which is why, I assume, that you are moving to the cloud in the first place).

Now, if the cost of running these machines for a few months is not a concern, here's a few ideas:

1: Do you currently host any office resources (fileservers, authentication, backups, VPNs, etc...) in your office in a wiring closet? This could be a perfect opportunity to showcase how some of these might better be handled in a proper datacentre.

2: Are there any projects still on the drawing board, which have been hitherto delayed due to a lack of resources? You could use this time to develop a proof of concept.

3: Further to #2, this is a perfect opportunity to build a DIY private cloud. Generally, the barrier to entry to these projects is the sticker shock associated with the initial cost. An empty half rack full of unused servers is perfect for this, and could be an excellent proof of concept for management. Done correctly, your private cloud could exist as a backup to your public cloud.

4: If this is a company that does any kind of software development, this is a chance to build a prototype developmnent cluster as well. You could even build a development cluster on top of the aforementioned virtualization cluster.

5: Do you do business with anyone, or do you have any sister companies that are in need of temporary rack space? You could conceivably rent this space out (and even the hardware, too), to a firm that needs some quick and temporary rack space, and possibly even turn a profit, if this is permitted under your agreement with the datacentre.

Essentially, if I had half a rack of unused servers I would use them as a way to prototype a project I've been wanting to do for a while but until now have not had the resources to build. Failing that, I would try to rent it out. But be careful - do not build anything on these servers that you might become dependent on; this might be viewed by management as a challenge to their authority. Make sure that whatever you use it for is temporary.

Best strategy depends on where it is located (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 3 months ago | (#47544257)

If it is in San Francisco area, take out the servers, furnish the rack, and rent it out.

Setup a VPN and bypass FIOS throttling of Netflix (1)

sideslash (1865434) | about 3 months ago | (#47544259)

n/t (with unique-ifier that Slashdot demands).

backups, then continuing ed... (2)

joshuao3 (776721) | about 3 months ago | (#47544261)

If this were for my company, I'd want to do two things with the hardware. First, use it to back up the cloud environment. Maybe not the applications, but definitely the data. Disaster recovery is always paramount in the corporate world.

Second, I'd want the hardware used to try out some new software, techniques, file systems, media servers, etc. It's never too late to learn new skills, and what better to learn on than servers you don't mind wiping if they get messed up. Using them to mine bitcoins is far less valuable (in a corporate environment) in the long run than using them to learn new skills, and exposure to new software.

we would use your processors for computer go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544269)

http://oakfoam.com :) Next tournament is next sunday :)

http://www.gokgs.com/tournInfo.jsp?id=912

revenue generating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544277)

is money all you can think of? Greedy capitalists. How about donating the space to a charity for free? Just a thought.

transitioning all our servers into my butt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544321)

I freaking love this browser extension.

TOR relay (1)

jmd (14060) | about 3 months ago | (#47544343)

Because it is not just a job.. it is an adventure!

a cooler of your choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544357)

obviously a half-height rackmounted beverage cooler of your choice.

Tor Exit Node, run one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544391)

Be a freedom supporter.... run a Tor exit relay.
https://www.torproject.org/

Depends on what data center (2)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 3 months ago | (#47544403)

If its in say LD4 in London, or NY7 in New Jersey then I'd make a crapton of money leasing it out or selling VMs to brokerages. If its in ho-hum Dallas Rackspace somewhere or whatever then its not that interesting. Still, its a lot of iron to be idle in a big DS for that long. You could run a pretty serious web site on that sort of infrastructure. Maybe find some startup and leverage it, give them a leg up in return for some cheap equity. If it goes bust its no worse than leaving the rack idle and if it takes off you make some bucks.

Openstack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544415)

You could install Openstack or something similar and create an internal provisioning system for business use cases.
You could also use the stack for Automation.
Either way, the HW is available and flexible.

Bitcoin mining? (1)

nuckfuts (690967) | about 3 months ago | (#47544419)

I don't know if those machines are capable of competing for bitcoins, but it might be fun to try. Years ago I used to configure underused computers to do distributed computing stuff like SETI@home [wikipedia.org] . Now there are programs like Folding@home [wikipedia.org] where you can donate resources to medical research.

2 chicks at the same time man (0)

MillerHighLife21 (876240) | about 3 months ago | (#47544449)

Or mine bit coins maybe. Could help pay for the remaining lease term.

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