French data center and cloud provider Scaleway has retrofitted around 14,000 servers to triple their usable lifespan.
In a recent blog post, the company said removing the physical RAID controllers and replacing them with software-based RAID as part of a major retrofitting program could help keep servers in operation for up to 10 years.
“When we noticed that a bunch of our old servers had a high failure rate but were otherwise performing well, we decided not to throw them out but to retrofit them — all 14,000 of them,” said Marc Raynaud, Scaleway’s hardware support manager. “We adapted and optimized our workshop at our DC5 data center to handle this new project and extend our hardware lifespan. Today, our servers are used for up to 10 years — versus the industry average of three to four years — and nearly 80 percent of components are recycled.”
According to the company, server manufacturing represents 15 to 30 percent of each machine’s carbon impact.
Scaleway said its investigations showed that the issue came from the RAID controllers. RAID is data storage virtualization technology that combines multiple storage drives into one logical unit.
As the older machines had physical RAID controllers that had a battery, the failure rate was higher than other machines. But instead of replacing the servers, which has a higher carbon footprint, the company removed the physical RAID controllers and replaced them with software-based RAIDs created with mdadm, a Linux utility used to manage and monitor software RAID devices.
After doing the required checks, it began moving 14,000 servers to the DC5 facility at a pace of 'hundreds of servers per week' to begin the retrofit process to add software-based RAID and remove the physical RAID cards.
Not all servers qualified for the retrofit process; those that couldn’t reach the necessary performance levels were split into parts for future repairs.
As companies look to curb costs and reduce their environmental footprint, many of the cloud providers have been extending the usable lifespan of their IT hardware.
This year has seen Google announce plans to increase the useful lives of its servers and some networking equipment to six years, and Meta says it will extend the expected life of servers and some network equipment to five years.
The search company said the move would save it around $3.4 billion, while the social media firm said it would save $ 1.5bn as a result.
Meta previously ran its hardware for around four-and-a-half years, a move that was itself an increase from mid-2022. Prior to that, it estimated a four-year useable life.
Back in 2020, all four companies operated servers with a lifespan of just three years.
Iliad-owned Scaleway owns four data centers across Paris totaling around 44MW, and offers cloud services from facilities in Warsaw and Amsterdam. Located at 25 rue de l’Eguillette, DC5 offers 12 data halls across 17,000 sqm (183,000 sq ft).
Formerly known as Online.net, Scaleway has been converting the ’Abri Lefebvre’ fallout shelter into a data center over the last ten years. In September 2021, it announced the launch of a Paris Nuclear Shelter AZ in Paris, fr-par-3, based in the shelter.