Server Stimulus: The Planet Eyes Job Growth

Can a bunch of used servers help stimulate the economy? The Planet is determined to find out. The Houston-based managed hosting provider is offering up to 500 free dedicated servers to developers working on new applications and projects.

The program, known as Sand Castle, was conceived by Chairman and CEO Doug Erwin of The Planet. The company has a stockpile of recycled servers that are no longer being used by its dedicated and managed hosting customers, but still have useful life. To qualify for a free server, developers need to outline their vision for a software application or Web-based design service, and produce a new domain within six months of acceptance into the program.

Erwin said he was motivated to act by projections of a “jobless recovery” and data suggesting the actual employment rate was closer to 17 percent than 10 percent once you include jobless workers who are living off severances or have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

“I’m taking the challenge to try and find ways that The Planet can create jobs,” said Erwin. “With eight data centers, we’re in a position to offer a single server to 500 individuals who want to start their own businesses. These 500 servers could create 500 jobs, and then we’ll have taken one small step to pay it forward and be part of the solution.”

The Sand Castle program will use Dell servers equipped with Dual Xeon processors, a 146GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, 10Mb per second of unmetered bandwidth, and loaded with the CentOS 5 operating system. Current customers of The Planet are not eligible.

Erwin acknowledges that the program could yield benefits for The Planet. “If I help create a company, and they turn around and rent a server from, then we both win,” said Erwin, who said the Sand Castle program will include future phases to offer additional technology and training.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. jeff

    These are power hungry servers that should be retired if they are not in use. Likely people will use them to play games on and for other miscellaneous junk which will just keep old power hungry servers kicking instead of scrapping them.

  2. Tom

    The power usage? The developer(s) who qualify for the program don't pay for the power usage. You think anyone cares how much power their servers they are renting use? They don't. Many times Data Centers have offered "green" solutions, but they cost more to get an equivalent product. As a result, customers choose the cheaper "less-green" solution. If anything, I would be concerned that the screening process isn't thorough enough and spammers may find their way into these free servers. I wouldn't be worried about whether or not games are played on them, the gaming industry isn't a bad thing, and if the aspiring developer creates some sort of successful gaming product, everyone wins.

  3. Jeff

    Tom - I think you missed my point. If you have to give them away to get them used - then they are old - these are single core xeons - very inefficient. Why figure out a way to keep old servers going - why not focus time and effort into newer more efficient servers? This is just a bad use of old power hogs that need to be slaughtered since they are way past their primetime. Users do care - but more than that its about being responsible and deploying more efficient servers. Sure its a neat marketing gimmick - but not socially responsible.

  4. Jeff, I understand your point, and it really comes down to whether or not you believe in the idea behind the program ... You see it as a marketing gimmick, the individuals who have already been approved and are using these servers see it as a way for their idea to finally see the light of day. These servers aren't as fast and efficient as their newest kin, but they work, and they are phenomenally powerful for a developer without a budget. These servers aren't offered for sale on our site anymore, and in all likelihood they will be sold or recycled in some fashion, but that doesn't mean we can't foot the bill for 500 of them to stay online to provide a development environment that may have been previously out of reach for the developers who have applied. Keeping these servers online is not preventing us from buying and deploying new, more efficient servers. We have the capacity to make this program possible, the resources to cover the costs for these participants, and the ability to continue to expand with the efficient servers customers want to pay for. The question becomes whether you believe the economic value of what can be produced on these servers in a year outweighs the efficiency they lack and their scrap metal value. We think it does.