Data center decommissioning can be a huge undertaking. It’s a complex process spread over many systems involving multiple pieces of high-value equipment. The consideration of emergency power and cooling systems add extra levels of complexity to the decommissioning and building shutdown process. State, federal and local regulations must be followed. Each system has a separate set of guidelines and requires a defined skill set which existing staff may not have.
With Silverback’s data center decommissioning checklist, you will see seven key steps. At a very high level, you will need to define the scope, deliverables, and timeline for completion of work. Other items to include in your planning process are evaluation criteria, reporting requirements, and specific terms and conditions.
Here are seven steps to follow when decommissioning your data center:
Draft Scope of Work
Outline all details of the process, safety procedure, stages of removal, and demolition. List out exact responsibilities for task, method, location, and completion time.
Consider these questions as you scope the decommission:
- What total square footage is in each location?
- How much equipment needs to be removed?
- What work is being done by your staff and what work do you want your vendors to do?
- Do you have a master project timeline?
- Do you have special equipment that needs to be moved?
- Do you need specific technical expertise?
- Do you have enough time to run a competitive process, or do you need to fast track and get a vendor on-board quickly?
Perform Comprehensive Audit
A full evaluation will allow you to find discrepancies between the physical audit, the software discovery audit, and the existing CMDB/asset list. You can then verify the workflow. Map out the hardware from the physical review and map that to your applications and data.
Although relevant staff members will be involved throughout the process, make sure that a final review takes place with each area before the project start date. Experts include developers, operations, users, and management. If you identify any gaps, you can bring in external decommissioning or data center migration professionals.
Develop Implementation Plan
Data center decommissioning projects are task-dense, so make sure to be as granular as possible. You may need a combination of tracking sheets, templates, and hard copy documents. Consider the following as you prepare your data center decommissioning checklist:
- General contact list for all team members – include the preferred method of communication.
- Equipment List – Master list and individual lists for servers, internal cooling units, external chillers, and emergency power systems. Include a column for repurpose, resell, or recycle.
- Emergency Generator – Write removal instructions for emergency generators and auxiliary equipment.
- Cooling System – Write a separate removal plan for internal cooling units, external chillers, and their associated systems. Include detail on ductwork, cabling, piping, and control panels.
- Servers/Network/Storage – Create a removal plan for servers using the equipment list as a reference.
- Decommissioning – Complete tasks from each plan within timeline specifications.
- Post Decommissioning Review – Evaluate tasks completed for each system. Use lessons learned to refine the process.
Outline Tool and Labor Requirements
Another important consideration is the tools and labor that are required at each step. An experienced decommissioning project manager will create a list of tools, materials, and labor you need to complete the job. Examples of equipment and materials include:
- Forklifts – front-loading, hand-cranked or electric
- Hoists – manual or electric
- Device Shredders – onsite or mobile shred
- Degaussers – permanent magnet or electromagnetic technology
- Pallets – block, string, double-wing
- Packing Foam – PE, XLPE, anti-static, shock
- Hand Tools – basic hand tools, anti-static cloth, and test equipment
- Labels – barcode, nameplate, cord
- Boxes – consider size, color, product fragility levels, load-bearing surfaces
- Crates – standard wooden, corrugated combo or customs crates (such as Silverback specialized crates)
- Packing Materials – tape, bubble wrap, poly bags, stretch film
To forecast labor, determine the number of individuals and hours required to perform the work. Be specific about task requirements at every stage of the project. Include estimates of workflow requirements and work backward to set milestones. You may need to hire third-party resources so add time for background and security checks.
Several approaches can be used to delete data from hdd and ssd media, including deleting unwanted files; using software tools; encrypting the drives; or physically destroying the drive, by degaussing it (demagnetize by use of a strong magnetic field) or drive crush/shred, to make it inoperable.
To build a robust data sanitization framework, follow these steps for a robust data sanitization framework:
- Maintain a data governance framework that specifies the kind of data your organization routinely generates. Give parameters for handling and retaining each category of data.
- Spell out clear protocols for data sanitization within your data governance policy. Define the extent of human oversight when it comes to enforcing the rules for data sanitization.
- Incorporate your company’s approach to hardware refresh cycles (as well as hardware failure) into your planning for data sanitization.
- Develop a proactive policy for the internal reuse of storage drives. For drives destined for retirement, explore all options for secure remarketing. Destruction should always be the final resort.
- Be prescriptive in your company’s expectations around the process for data sanitization and the secure handling of storage media and other data-bearing hardware.
Label and Pack IT Equipment
Labeling each piece of equipment to indicate both where it’s going and who owns it is critical. Using a detailed data center decommissioning checklist is critical to the success of this part of the project.
Alphanumeric tags and colored labels are among the most commonly used indicators, but paper printouts can be used to uniquely identify each piece of equipment as well. You can also use combinations, such as 1) a color-coded system to designate which equipment would be moved and 2) paper printouts physically attached to the equipment with instructions for where the equipment would go.
Provide an easily accessible work order for each IT asset via hard copy, tablet, smartphone, or another smart device, and/or laptop. Each work order should be simple to read and explain at a glance exactly which cabinet, U position, network cables, power cables, rack PDU outlets, and panel or port switches will be used for every device. Pay close attention to the right length of cable needed for each IT asset.
Coordinate Disposal and Recovery of Assets
As you work through hardware palletization and packing, make sure that servers and hardware slated for reuse are accounted for. Task the finance department with keeping accurate accounting records and software licenses.
If you’ve audited your assets and indicated repurpose, resell, or recycle, it will be easy to coordinate with the appropriate resource. Silverback can help coordinate that process.
You may find it helpful to perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether liquidating current assets and purchasing new equipment is actually more cost-effective in the long run versus moving and re-purposing your equipment elsewhere within the organization. Most importantly, document the entire process so that you have a paper trail to prevent errors, identify process improvements, and measure the success of your data center decommissioning project.
To recap, here’s the seven-step data center decommissioning checklist:
- Draft Scope of Work
- Perform Comprehensive Audit
- Develop Implementation Plan
- Outline Tools and Labor Requirements
- Data Destruction
- Label and Pack IT Equipment
- Coordinate Disposal and Recovery of Assets
Pro Tips for Data Center Decommissioning:
- Remember to include packaging considerations for all equipment, whether repurpose, resell, or recycle
- Create a virtual buildout of your new data center deployment before the physical move.
- Background checks are needed for temporary personnel as well as full-time staff.
- Notify vendors and schedule the cancellation of maintenance contracts.
- Hold a formal go/no-go meeting on the day of the decommission and halt the project if appropriate risks are raised.
- For live decommissioning projects, contact end-users about potential downtime
Two racks or two hundred racks, Silverback has expertise in responsible recycling and certified data destruction. When it’s time to consolidate or decommission your data center, let us help minimize your workload and maximize your return.