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Data Center Disposal Services & Tips for Easy Shutdown Process

data center disposal of server racks
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For an immediate quote on data center disposal services, reach out through our form below. 

The Stakes for a Data Center Disposal

Shutting down a data center presents the risk of critical issues.  

For one, at the time of data center closure, there are several chances for data to be leaked. 

One look at any of the numerous data breach RSS feeds shows that it happens constantly. 

Additionally, mistakes with environmental responsibility can damage your company’s public image. It’s estimated that in a major recycling city overseas, 80% of children have respiratory disease. 

For a long time, shareholders assumed consumers don’t actually care about sustainability. However, this is not true. A recent report showed that 50% of the CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 actually came from sustainable products.

Further, the fines and penalties can be significant for violation of several laws: 

  • CERCLA – Waste and Superfund Act
  • RCRA – Hazardous & Universal Waste Act
  • Basel Convention – Export & Transboundary Movement

A financial company that used Arrow Recycling before it was dissolved was fined 10s of $millions of dollars. 

Data Center Closure Done Right 

Closing up and disposing of your data center equipment does not have to be worrisome though. 

With the right partner, you can be free of your colo, leases, and IT equipment quickly and securely. 

deinstallation of server from rack

General Project Progression

  • Perform preliminary site audit
  • Remove racks and cabinets
  • Decommission servers
  • Remove cabling
  • Comprehensively document all equipment
  • Destruction of data or data-bearing media
    • On-premises or at vendor facilities
  • Prep, palletize, and ship all assets
  • Process, repair, remarket, or recycle IT equipment
  • Return all leased equipment
  • Document chain of custody

1: Site Audit

For pure disposal or recycling projects with full retirement of the data center, the site audit is a more brief affair. The team is mostly only concerned with data security and removal, so things like software dependencies don’t need to be accounted for.

However, in the case of a more decommissioning project with live workloads, there is extensive preparation required. 

The team sent on-site will evaluate the location(s), assets, and complexities expected during the course of the project.

Where an existing inventory list is meticulously kept, with all hardware recorded via grid/coordinate along with all software dependencies (this is rare), then preliminary network discovery and inventory updates aren’t required.

Otherwise, agentless discovery tools or other tools more suited for highly virtualized and segmented environments can be used.

In the latter case, prior communication with the data center manager can be necessary. 

The team will also need to determine any considerations with security clearance. Data center facilities frequently have ocular, fingerprint, or keycard security checkpoints. 

teardown of data center infrastructure

2: Deinstallation and removal

The vendor will go on site and pull all servers, SANs, switches, routers, racks, cabinets, etc. along with ancillaries like docking stations and peripherals for decommissioning of the data center assets.

In addition, power equipment like circuit breakers, transformers, and power supplies will be removed by qualified personnel. 

3: Reconciliation of inventory

With a complete asset database, the vendor can double verify each asset’s serial number against records to confirm that no equipment is missing or mischaracterized. 

Where errors are noted, management can update and validate the asset database to prevent the erroneous removal of any still-needed equipment

Additionally, proper accounting for the purposes of compliance is secured. 

4: Data Center Destruction of Data

Some companies prefer to handle data erasure in-house for better control over data wiping. Others prefer to have the vendor perform all data erasure on site. 

Hard driving shredding has occasionally been attempted in house, but cost and health hazards often lead companies to reconsider. 

In any case, with a reputable vendor, the cost is very reasonable, and data center managers can rest assured with a certificate of destruction before anything is disposed of. 

Many companies prefer the data erasure route to recover value from the leftover drives, whether that be through remarketing, redeployment as cold storage, or donation write-offs. 

palletization and removal of server pallets

5: Remarketing, Recycling, or Redeployment

Once assets have been transported to the vendor warehouse, they are processed depending on their eventual fate.

Data center disposal via recycling will be performed on most assets that are over 5 years old. 

It is crucial that this process is carried out by a vendor that is R2 or E-stewards certified. For practical purposes, the certifications are equivalent. 

For assets that are not recycled, the vendor can facilitate their re-use at another location or remarket the assets to help recover money for the data center.

Additionally, for assets that have depreciated heavily but could still provide substantial tax write-offs, a data center disposal vendor can coordinate their donation. 

For the purposes of write-offs, internal reporting, or external reporting, once data center assets have been repurposed, recycled, or remarketed, a complete chain of custody will be provided. 

Additionally, certificates of recycling, data erasure, etc will also be provided where applicable. 

Choosing a Data Center Disposal Partner 

Even for smaller companies, disposing of data center equipment can be a headache; vendor choice is important.  

Some companies are primarily interested in cost and convenience, while others are more interested in scope of services and geographic reach. 

Generally speaking, however, the most complex projects will require a larger data center recycling vendor, while smaller companies may enjoy greater value recovery from a smaller ITAD vendor. 

By asking for several references within the past year, a company can gain a relatively good idea of a company’s operations. 

However, it’s important to remember that in sensitive data center work, a company is not measured just by its successes. 

A vendor is also as good as their reliability, how well they avoid mistakes. 

As such, ask for references from companies that they’ve worked with several times. By talking with companies that use their services year after year, you get a better sense of consistency. 

If you have an upcoming decommissioning project or data center disposal project, call 239-596-2254 or email Sell@exittechnologies.com 

You can also fill out a brief quote form at the bottom of the page and our team will get back to you within 24 hours on business days. 

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