The Data Centre Decommissioning Checklist
When it comes to decommissioning a data centre, IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) is one of the key processes embedded into all phases of a successful decommissioning.
While there are more data centres being decommissioned globally than at any other period in time, it is still a daunting task for any IT professional or department to manage.
It requires the coordination of many stakeholders including your ITAD provider, construction contractors, your new data centre personnel, along with the plan governing your old data centre building. In many ways, it’s similar to a construction project, and should be viewed in such a light.
Broadly speaking there are four phases when decommissioning a data center: Planning, Inventory, Decommissioning, and Handover.
- Assign a Project Manager: It’s vital that one person within your organization is in charge of dealing with all stakeholders. This should be a full-time job for all phases of the decommissioning.
- Realistic budget: Have a detailed and realistic budget, especially if the decommissioning involves structural changes to the existing building due to your lease obligations.
- Timeline (data): What is the migration date for switching from the old data center to the new one?
- Timeline (building): When do you have to vacate the building?
- ITAD vendor: Have you picked a certified and compliant ITAD provider to decommission the actual servers?
- Documentation: Create policies, procedures, and processes for all stakeholders to implement while undergoing the decommissioning process.
- Live decommissioning: If decommissioning a live site, make all stakeholders aware of possible downtime.
- IT Audit: Has your ITAD provider performed a physical audit of all IT assets?
- IT Re-use: Have you and your ITAD provider agreed on what IT assets may be reused within your organization?
- IT Re-sell: Have you and your ITAD provider agreed on what IT parts can be resold as ‘new’ supply equivalents on the global market?
- IT Recycle: Have you and your ITAD provider agreed on what IT parts can be recycled?
- Dependencies: Detail items such as air and cooling equipment, power equipment, and cabling which will need to be removed.
- Commissioning: Hire tools and equipment for physical logistics, or ensure that your ITAD provider will supply items such as hoists, trucks, and fork lifts etc.
- Staff: If hiring part-time workers conduct background checks ensure that your ITAD provider conducts checks on their staff too.
- Back-up: Ensure a back-up plan is in place for data on assets to be decommissioned.
Sequencing of works:
- On-site: Allow access, room and power for your ITAD provider to decommission IT assets on-site.
- Off-site: Allow your ITAD provider to safely remove IT assets from the data center if destroying off-site.
Security: Ensure only vetted personnel have access to the data center and its surrounds.
Health and Safety (H&S):
- Ensure power is cut to assets being decommissioned.
- Ensure ITAD provider has H&S processes in place for what may be akin to a building site.
Destruction: Ensure that the proper method of destruction is suitable for each type of IT asset, such as erasing, shredding or degaussing.
IT Portal: Ensure that your ITAD vendor’s progress can be monitored by a bespoke online portal developed for the decommissioning.
- Certification: Ensure ITAD provider supplies certificates of destruction and evidence of all decommissioned assets.
- Software licenses/support: End licenses/support for disposed IT assets.
- Packing: After the teardown is finished and assets are redundant, dedicate space to pack assets. Ensure items for re-use and re-sell are clearly marked and secured.
- Environment: Your ITAD provider must dispose of IT assets in line with agreed environmental standards.
- Re-sold parts: Coordinate with your Finance Department and ITAD provider that the agreed price is received for re-sold parts.
- Vacate building: If leaving your data center building, check with your lease and make sure that it is in a suitable condition to handover to your landlord. If you are repurposing the building, coordinate with the contractors hired for this work once the decommissioning phase is complete.
While the above is not an exhaustive list, it should give you an idea of the issues when decommissioning a data center. Failure to plan properly may leave your company open to data breaches, environmental fines, not to mention the health and safety of your staff and those of your subcontractors.
When hiring an ITAD provider, it is important that they can perform as many of the above ITAD tasks as possible. This will limit the number of stakeholders on-site and make the decommissioning quicker, safer, more cost-effective and secure.