How are Your Servers Really Feeling (Really)?

- January 22, 2013

 We deal with a lot of data at Filestack and are constantly looking at ways to improve our ability to manage the large volume of content flowing through our systems. Last week, we had a great opportunity to exchange notes with folks at the OPen Compute Summit. The Open Compute Summit featured a hackathon sponsored by the awesome folks at Upverter and Grabcad. The goal of the hackathon was to experiment with how open hardware hacks could improve the datacenter.

I teamed up with some friends of mine to build a way to end the “stat-blindness” that tends to be so common in the ops world. As the saying goes, if it matters, measure it. Strictly applied this axiom leads to beautifully colorful stats dashboards filled with whirring numbers. The problem is, with so many numbers, colors, and shinny, blinky-things the real meaning of the all the data can be lost. At the end of the day, all you really want to know is: how are my servers feeling right now?

Instead of adding another virtual gauge to an ever growing dashboard, what if you could show a single critical server metric on a physical readout that was sure to grab your attention?

HappyServer is a super-simple arduino sketch that polls for a single server metric and displays the result on a servo-powered gauge.

Required Parts

Step 1. Setup Arduino IDE

Download the Arduino IDE –

If you’re using a Mac, be sure to install the FTDI driver after you install the IDE – (use the 64bit OSX one)

Step 2. Build Circuit

The above diagram shows which pins to connect the servo to. Connect the servo after you attach the wifi shield to the top of the Arduino.

You can test if your servo is connect properly by loading the Servo>Sweep example on to your Arduino board. Doing so wil make the servo rotate through its complete range of motion continuously.

Step 3. Download and Config Sketch

Step 4. Flash Arduino

Step 5. Get Happy


The Open Compute Summit grew out of Facebook’s effort to build open source datacenter hardware specifically suited to the challenges of giga-scale web companies. The Open Compute project (github) is all about high-density, high-performence, and disruptively low cost (not cheap, think 100k plus for anything on offer but with a low TCO – total cost of ownership). The project’s suite of open hardware designs is incredible to behold. The project includes designs for motherboards, server racks, storage arrays, and just about anything you would need to build your own Facebook-style datacenter.