Server sprawl is a situation in which multiple, under-utilized servers take up more space and consume more resources than can be justified by their workload. Common causes of server sprawl include the purchase of a large number of inexpensive, low-end servers and the practice of dedicating servers to single applications. Server sprawl may be confined to a single server room, but it can in some cases be spread across multiple facilities in widespread geographical locations, especially in cases where one company has acquired another one or where two companies have merged.
According to Tony Iams, Senior Analyst at D.H. Brown Associates Inc. in Port Chester, NY, servers typically run at 15-20% of their capacity. Businesses are increasingly turning to server consolidation measures, such as the use of blade servers, as a means of cutting unnecessary costs and maximizing return on investment (ROI).