A large insurer hopes to save energy and money by using large computers to run hundreds of “virtual servers.”

Nationwide Financial Services Inc., Columbus, Ohio, says it has set up the virtual servers using the Linux operating system on mainframe computers from International Business Machines Corp., Armonk, N.Y.

In recent decades, many large companies have tried to save money and improve performance by shifting functions to small server computers, away from big mainframes, but Nationwide believes that, in practice, many of the servers were underutilized, the company says.

The company is hoping that using mainframes to handle the tasks that the server computers were handling will save floor space, cut electricity bills and reduce overall costs, the company says.