Data center decommissioning done right with IT asset disposition

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Decommissioning a data center is always a tricky ordeal. When getting rid of all the IT equipment, it's crucial to have a strategy in place for secure and timely disposal.

This is where IT asset disposal (ITAD) comes into play.

To safeguard your company's sensitive and very private data, you need a qualified ITAD service provider by your side. In the next few minutes, we’ll explain all you need to know about IT asset disposition - from describing ITAD in great detail and how it can assist you in safely erasing data from retired data center gear to a rundown of how ITAD service providers evaluate, uninstall, transfer, wipe data, and help you recover some of the initial value.

What is ITAD?

IT asset disposition refers to the process of retiring or disposing of old or obsolete IT hardware such as computers, servers, networking and storage devices, together with other infrastructure routinely found in data centers and offices. This activity includes the evaluation, sorting, and disposal of these assets in a responsible and sustainable manner.

ITAD involves a series of steps to ensure that the equipment is properly decommissioned and that any sensitive data is securely erased. This may include wiping the data from the device, destroying the hard drive, or physically destroying the device.

In addition to data security, ITAD also focuses on environmental responsibility. This may involve properly recycling electronic waste or donating usable equipment to organizations in need.

As such, ITAD is a critical operation for organizations because it helps make sure that confidential data is protected and electronic waste is correctly disposed of. It is also an important aspect of corporate social responsibility as it assists in reducing the environmental impact of electronic devices.

5 stages of data center ITAD

As a comprehensive system for managing the retirement and disposal of IT assets, the ITAD process for data centers consists of five key stages: 

  1. Assessment
  2. Deinstallation
  3. Data destruction
  4. Value recovery
  5. Disposal

Stage 1: Assessment

The start of the process involves the identification and evaluation of the assets by an ITAD service provider to determine their condition, functionality, and value. Additionally, they will assess the type of data that is held on each device and make a list of all the assets that need to be disposed of.

This assessment is critical for determining the best course of action for the assets, whether it is refurbishment, resale, or recycling. The assessment may include an inventory of all assets, an evaluation of their physical condition, and the testing of their operating status to determine the necessary level of security. 

This is important to note because the results of the appraisal will help determine the value of the assets, along with the options available for their disposal.

Once all sensitive data has been removed from the equipment, the ITAD vendor of your choice will create a strategy to resell usable data center assets to the worldwide market. With a revenue sharing model, this is a major benefit for any business looking to recoup funds on the now-decommissioned investment.

Stage 2: Deinstallation

The deinstallation phase involves the removal of IT assets from their current location and preparation for transportation to the ITAD facility. This includes the disconnection of the assets from any systems or networks, removal of any data storage devices, as well as packing and labeling of the assets for transport. 

Because it deals with deactivation, then safety and security of the assets during transportation, it’s hugely important to get this stage right from the start. Otherwise, you’re risking potential data vulnerabilities and environmental pollution through improper disposal.

For this reason, it’s imperative to opt for an ITAD partner with a successful track record of deinstalling data center equipment. We’ll go into more detail on this later on, but suffice it to say that the provider’s licensed specialists should be knowledgeable with all popular hardware manufacturers to securely remove and transport all of your gear.

Stage 3: Data destruction

Once the assets have been deinstalled and transported to the ITAD facility, the next step is the destruction of any data stored on the assets. This is arguably the most important part of the entire ITAD procedure as it makes certain the protection of sensitive data and complies with data privacy laws. 

Data destruction may be performed through a variety of methods, including physical destruction, overwriting, or degaussing. The method used will depend on the type and sensitivity of the data, as well as your specific requirements.

After the data has been completely removed from the discarded equipment, your ITAD provider will provide you with a certificate of data destruction. This document will list every piece of hardware that was taken out of your data center and attest to the fact that the data has been properly erased in accordance with industry standards.

Stage 4: Value recovery

After the hard part is done, next up is the identification of any value that can be gained from the remaining IT assets. The value recovery step may include the refurbishment and resale of assets, the recovery of materials for recycling, or the sale of assets for parts.

To ensure effective financial distribution to both parties, the ITAD provider drafts an agreement on revenue-sharing while taking care of remarketing and selling the decommissioned hardware via their network of buyers, auctions, trade-ins, and so on.

As a result, you can reduce the overall cost of the ITAD process and the environmental impact, as well as maximize the return on the initial investment.

Stage 5: Disposal

The final phase is the disposal of data center IT assets that have reached the end of their lifecycle and have no further tangible value. This may involve the recycling of materials or the disposal of assets in an environmentally responsible manner. 

In doing so, you are seeing to it that IT assets are disposed of in a way that is safe and compliant with local regulations.

Of special note is the ecological aspect of getting rid of devices and parts that have served their use. It’s a sad truth that inadequate disposal of e-waste happens frequently due to the fact it’s not always simple, convenient, or affordable for the responsible party. Regrettably, this results in hazardous runoff and dangerous contamination.

Hence, preventing the creation of electronic waste from the get-go is the single greatest method to lessen its negative effects on the surroundings. IT equipment for data centers should be recycled or repurposed rather than thrown away after it has reached the end of its useful life. Collectively, we may contribute to preserving our world for future generations by being accountable for our electronic trash.

The importance of a trusted partner

ITAD is a vital process for any organization as it ensures the proper handling and disposal of end-of-life IT equipment, protects sensitive data, and maximizes the value of assets. 

As you can see above, it requires an extensive and systematic approach, which makes it all the more important to choose a trusted industry expert as your partner.

While the majority of ITAD providers offer a wide array of services to aid with the decommissioning process, not all offer nor provide the same level of service. When choosing an ITAD provider, it’s essential to do your due diligence and thoroughly research prospects. Ideally, you should choose a company that has all the necessary experience and certifications, and is compliant with every industry regulation.

Whether it's repairing devices so they can be mended and sold, erasing the data, recycling or selling your equipment, you want to have peace of mind that data center equipment is disposed of in a secure and sustainable way.

Here at Dataknox, we perform industry-standard management of end-of-life IT hardware through our IT asset disposition services. If you’re looking for responsible and efficient data center decommissioning within your budget, feel free to give us a call or write us an email - we’ll be more than happy to help out!

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