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Data Center Decommissioning: What You Should Know


Sooner or later, your servers’ lifespans will come to an end. When this occurs, the only sensible thing to do is to start organizing your data center decommissioning, and it is a serious undertaking. This complex operation is spread over several systems that involve working with extremely important and expensive equipment. Plus, this extra level of complexity needs to be paired with a sufficient level of attention that has to be given to emergency power supply systems, cooling systems, fire suppression systems, video surveillance systems, and everything else built to keep the data center running smoothly.

However, a data center isn’t as simple as the sum of its metallic parts and plastic components. Just consider all of a company’s sensitive data kept on the devices you’re getting ready to decommission. While the equipment can vary in terms of its value, the data on these devices is invaluable and can continue to live on not only after decommissioning but also after the physical destruction of its hardware.

Also, the chances that something will go wrong during the decommissioning are significantly higher than with the construction of a data center. So, to keep the decommissioning as simple as possible and your company on the safe side, don’t let data skip your mind and plan the whole process before making the first steps.


Create a comprehensive data-center checklist

Before data center decommissioning can commence, you need to make sure that the technical team has completed the inventory of all IT assets. This step tends to get somewhat tricky for large companies since they sometimes lack up-to-date information on data center assets, while smaller companies with small-scale data centers are considerably better at this. This is understandable since there are fewer moving parts to keep track of.

All in all, you need to have a clear idea of all your hardware and its placement in the facility, of all software components, and what data is stored on each of your servers. Also, double check that all software licenses associated with your equipment are secure.

At the end of the day, you should have a comprehensive data-center checklist that'll tell what assets will be reused and what will be set aside for recycling.


Mapping dependencies in your data center is a must

Another step you shouldn't overlook while decommissioning your data center is mapping out all application dependencies in it. When working with a complex business network, it’s critical to figure out which of your apps are dependent on which servers and network resources. If a server happens to go down or the network breaks the connection, this will affect all of your dependent apps as well your company, your staff, and your customers.

To limit the risk of something going wrong, everything must be shifted step by step in a logical sequence. Although mapping out dependencies can take some time, it will save you from sudden delays, disruptions, and unexpected costs.


Choose a dependable data center decommissioning service provider

Even if it’s entirely possible that your technical team can tackle the data center decommission by themselves, given the complexity and manpower needed for such an undertaking it’s smarter to pass the torch to a professional third-party decommissioning service provider.

While picking out a provider, take into account their experience as well as their track record, because the market is currently crowded with smaller companies that possess the will but not enough experience to decommission a data center without the serious shortcomings.

This is why you’ll want to research all of your potential providers, as well as to arm yourself with the right questions about their services. For instance, you’ll want to see a statement of work that goes into details about everything regarding the data center decommissioning plan. 

Also, feel free to ask around about responsible recycling, the worth of your retired IT hardware, the provider’s safety protocols and how data destruction will be carried out, or just about anything else that crosses your mind. Asking the right question at the right time can spare you much trouble in this process-


Recycling electronic equipment responsibly

Once your data center has been decommissioned and the end-of-life equipment is tossed out, it’s important to secure its safe disposal. With recycling e-waste, the R2 Standard applies and it provides a standard set of processes, precautions, and documentation requirements for companies to reuse, recover or recycle used electronic equipment, components, or materials.

This is particularly important when it comes to the disposal of toxic materials where everything demands to be handled with a belt-and-braces approach for the company’s protection but also for protecting the environment.

In addition to this, make sure you are given transparent access to a chain of custody that can be traced for all equipment, including tracking down any person who came in contact with each piece and where its journey eventually ended.


Don’t shrug off security during the decommissioning

When managing any sort of sensitive data, security should be placed up high on your list of priorities. Nowadays, most companies make use of on-site data destruction services to destroy their digital data before it leaves their facilities. However, there’s another type of security nightmare you should consider in due time and it concerns people coming in and out of your data center.

To prevent this from ever happening you’ll want to restrict access to your data center facilities to decommissioning service provider’s staff as well as selected personnel from your own crew to serve as a source of non-technical surveillance support. Alternatively, if you have a video surveillance system, this is the perfect time to utilize it.

Also, you should always know who the decommissioning service provider is sending to perform which task. Appoint dedicated members of the staff to check their IDs before letting them step inside your data center.