In 2022, estimates are that there were 5.9 million Google user queries, 231 million emails sent, and millions of instant messages. Video streaming, customer sales, account details, social media posts, and so many other aspects of data is generated each day. Statista estimates that the data that was created and captured was around 97 zettabytes in 2022. This number is expected to double in just a few years.

What are the correct steps to take when you’re shutting down your data center? It takes expert knowledge, so carefully think things through.

You’re bound by privacy laws and government regulations to protect the information you’ve been storing in that data center. Complete compliance is essential, but many companies don’t understand what this truly entails. You can’t just hire a company to handle everything and hope for the best.

Ultimately, you’re responsible for the steps taken during and after the data center decommissioning. If you fail to follow the rules involving data security and information privacy, you face legal action, government penalties and fines, and negative publicity. What five steps should you follow to ensure you decommission a data center properly and responsibly?

Develop a Comprehensive Plan

Planning is important The first thing to do is establish a comprehensive plan where you start to detail the scope of the project. You have to figure out exactly what equipment is being decommissioned, and what data and software is on it. You need to have all of this information laid out to help you figure out how much time it’s going to take. 

Once you have an idea of how long it will take, start budgeting the project. This is where you might want to go with a cheaper company to save money, but it’s not a smart idea. If you have heard of the issue Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC faced, it all started with a plan to save money. The less expensive company ended up using a third-party moving company that sold equipment before data was destroyed. In all, fines and court settlements totaled more than $150 million.

You have the scope of the project, timeline, and budget established. Now, it’s time to look for the resources you’ll need. You also have to come up with a plan of attack. How is the decommissioning going to start and proceed, and what happens when it’s completed?

While the data center is being decommissioned and cleared out, how will your business continue, or is this a complete shutdown? If only one department is closing, how are you going to proceed without interrupting the flow of business? Do you have new systems in place?

During the project, what happens if the power goes out? What are you going to do if the building’s fire alarms go off and you have to evacuate the building? You have to have an idea of what’s going to happen in these unexpected events.

Will you have to clean the space or is the building’s maintenance or property management team responsible for that? Are you responsible for hiring the movers or are you working with an ITAD provider who takes care of all of it? How many of your employees and stakeholders have to be involved? Take time to plan all of this.

Create a Full List of Assets and Data

It’s time to establish a complete inventory. This includes documenting the servers, storage devices, networking equipment, and any software used. You want to inventory everything including the make/model and serial number. This is an important checklist to ensure that everything in the data center goes through data destruction and is packaged to go to a facility for shredding or refurbishing. 

Coordinate the Project With IT Experts and Key Stakeholders

Before the data center decommissioning project takes place, coordinate with your company’s IT experts and key stakeholders. They need to be informed and decisions have to be made about how involved they will be on the actual day of the decommissioning.

Your stakeholders may not need to be there in person, but they should be updated. Your IT team might need to be involved to ensure that equipment is properly disassembled. The IT experts also have great insight into the equipment’s age and value outside of your business. You might be able to recover some of the cost of a data center decommissioning through the resale of equipment.

Ensure Data Destruction Takes Place

One of the things you should take into consideration is where data destruction will take place. If it’s possible to have data destruction services take place before your servers, storage devices, and other electronics leave the building, consider on-site data destruction. You can watch it happen. 

Partner With a Responsible ITAD Provider

The best way to decommission a data center is by working with an expert. You want an ITAD provider who is R2, NAID, ISO 9001, and e-Stewards certified. If they’re not willing to show these certifications, move on. Ask them who they use for third-party providers if they do. Do your homework and know exactly who is going to be handling, transporting, refurbishing, or recycling your data center devices.

ERI holds those certifications and several others. We ensure all data center decommissioning projects follow these five criteria:

  • Data Security: Data must be kept secure. Until the data is destroyed, top security measures must be followed to ensure that shipments are not lost or go missing. Thorough lists of the devices being recycled or refurbished need to be kept throughout the entire process.
  • Information Privacy: Any business that possesses personally identifiable information (PII) needs to follow local, state, and federal laws regarding information privacy.
  • Environment Protection: Electronics like computer monitors, printers, servers, network switches, and so many other devices contain metals that are damaging to the environment. You need to make sure you choose an ITAD provider that processes and recycles data center devices in the USA and doesn’t ship items overseas.
  • Maximum Resale Value: Some of your items may be valuable to someone else. Refurbishing is a great way to regain value to help cover the expenses involved in a decommissioning. Make sure you’re getting the highest resale value.
  • Traceability and Tracking: You need to be able to track your servers, storage devices, and other electronics every step of the way. ERI uses 100% secure transportation to our NAID AAA facility, and you can track it every step of the way through our Optech software that tracks items until they’re shredded or remarketed.

Who is on ERI’s team for data center decommissioning projects? We have a team of engineers, logistics experts, and account technicians who work together to ensure every project is completed correctly and efficiently, all while returning as much value as possible through remarketing.

We helped one Fortune 500 company pay for one-third of their data center decommissioning costs through remarketing. ERI may be able to do the same for you or even better. Talk to one of our decommissioning experts to discuss your project and let us help you complete it correctly and on time. Reach us online or by phone.