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Data Center Decommissioning: 8 Steps for a Successful Decommission

Last updated: 11 Jul 2021

Do you know what’s required to successfully decommission a data center or complete a data center relocation? If you’re facing a major data center decommissioning project, it can be daunting to consider all of the logistics and planning involved with the process.

At Transpere, we want to help make that process easy. That’s why we’ve created this guide to the most important parts of an effective data center decommissioning plan. We’ll answer many of your most common decommissioning questions, including:

  • Where do I start when planning a data center decommission?

  • How do I minimize negative impacts to my business during the decommission process?

  • How can I stay on-schedule and under-budget during a data center decommission?

  • How do I choose the right ITAD partner to help?

It’s all here in our data center decommissioning guide.

The Data Center and Server Decommission Checklist

Ready to get started with your data center decommissioning plan? Here’s our checklist of the 8 most important steps to consider for any successful decommissioning or data c

enter relocation project. Consider this your data center checklist that will help ensure on-schedule decommissioning, secure asset recovery, and more for your project.

1. Identify the Project Scope

Before beginning any of the detailed planning and execution involved with a successful data center decommissioning or data center relocation, you’ll want to start with a basic assessment of the project’s overall scope.

Begin by asking and answering the three most important questions:

  • What is the end goal of the project?
  • How long should the project take?
  • What is the budget for the project?

It’s possible that one or more of these questions won’t have a concrete answer when you first begin your data center decommissioning plan. But it’s best to have as much of this information locked in as possible to ensure that your project has direction, focus, and a timeline to ensure that you won’t end up with significant delays that can lead to wasted time and excess costs.

At this point you may also want to assign a project manager to oversee your data center decommissioning. Even if you plan to partner with a dedicated data center decommissioning partner like Transpere, you’ll want a main point of contact at your business to handle communication and other tasks associated with the project.

2. Create a Detailed Data Center Checklist

Once you’ve identified the general parameters of your project, it’s time to go into more detail. The first and most important part of this phase is to identify and list every hardware or software asset that will be decommissioned. This should be an exhaustive list of everything that needs to be included in your data center decommissioning project.

Many companies start by identifying hardware and software over their network, using network discovery tools to identify outdated, ineffective, or obsolete hardware and software assets. But this shouldn’t be where the process ends. You should then match the list that results from your network discovery process with a physical assessment and review, identifying hardware that must be decommissioned in-person.

You may then want to compare your results to any existing configuration management databases before moving to the next stage of your server decommission checklist.

From your network discovery and physical review, create a comprehensive inventory list that includes everything that will be decommissioned. This doesn’t just apply to servers, hard drives, and networking hardware. It also applies to software licenses, keyboards, peripherals, power equipment, storage racks, cabinets, HVAC equipment, and anything else that will be decommissioned.

Other tips for your data center checklist:

  • Make sure you secure and retain any software licenses associated with equipment designated for decommissioning
  • Create a map or list that identifies that actual locations of items set for decommissioning
  • Designate each item based on whether it will be reused, remarketed, or recycled

3. Begin the Planning Phase

It’s now time to begin the planning phase of your data center decommissioning in earnest.

Your first step should be to identify the team members who will be involved with the decommissioning, then identify their specific roles, responsibilities, and specific duties. The more explicit and clear you can make these role designations and responsibilities, the less confusion or wasted time and work hours you’ll have along the way during decommissioning.

At this phase, you should also firm up your timeline. When will you begin the decommissioning, and when would you estimate it will be complete? We recommend setting a ‘best case scenario’ date and a ‘worst case scenario’ date, which would be the absolute latest the project could be completed before it would begin to negatively impact your business.

Things to Keep in Mind When Scheduling Your Decommissioning Project

  • Will it affect peak hours of operation? Is there a time that you can schedule the project for minimum impact?
  • Will you need to send alerts in advance about service downtime?

In addition to scheduling your project, you’ll also want to create any necessary backup systems and policies to ensure that critical data isn’t lost during the process.

At this point, you may also want to consider whether you’ll be partnering with any data center decommissioning service providers— such as Transpere— to make your project as smooth, low-cost, and successful as possible.

4. Identify and Acquire Necessary Tools

If you’ll be handling the decommissioning or data center relocation project in-house, it’s now time to identify the tools, machinery, and equipment you’ll need for the project. Depending on the type, scope, and size of the facility being decommissioned, these tools can cover a wide range of types. Common equipment to consider may include:

  • Forklift
  • Hoist
  • Device shredders
  • Degaussers
  • Pallets
  • Packing foam
  • Hand tools
  • Labels
  • Boxes
  • Crates
  • Moving vehicles

If you plan to hire outside help to assist with the manual labor aspects of the project, you’ll want to ensure that they have been properly vetted with any necessary background checks, security authorizations, or other approvals. To save time and effort, work with a company such as Transpere that’s already fully certified for data center decommissioning services and data center relocation projects.

5. Remove or Relocate Equipment

NOTE: The following two steps may occur in reverse order depending on whether you plan to sanitize data onsite first or remove the equipment and then sanitize it at a secondary location.

As the day of decommissioning approaches, there are some final steps you’ll want to take before beginning the project. Review your plan with any stakeholders to ensure that everything is still good to go, and finalize any details that have been waiting for the final stages. If any steps of the process will require authorization during the decommissioning, arrange for these authorizations ahead of time to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays.

When the scheduled decommissioning arrives, disconnect all equipment on your checklist from the network in the order you’ve set and follow the process you’ve laid out in the earlier planning stages. Allow yourself some time to identify whether disconnections from servers have resulted in any unexpected issues. Be diligent about labelling or tagging all assets so that they can clearly be identified for the next stages in the process.

6. Wipe & Sanitize Data

Your decommissioning project isn’t complete until all secure data has been completely wiped, destroyed, or sanitized from all relevant equipment and software. This can be completed onsite during the decommissioning or data center relocation project, or it can be completed after the old equipment has been transported offsite for sanitization. This will depend on your specific project and how you plan to manage the equipment after it’s decommissioned— whether it will be reused, recycled, or resold outside your company.

7. Post-Decommissioning Cleanup and Admin

Your equipment and software has now been decommissioned successfully, but the project isn’t quite done yet. This next step will differ depending on what you have planned for the equipment you’ve decommissioned. In all cases, make sure that each piece of equipment is properly disposed of, transported, or stored using the right packing materials and storage facilities for the task.

Equipment for Reuse Some decommissioned equipment may be designated to be used somewhere else within your organization. In these cases, make sure you have a proper handoff protocol in place and that there is clear communication throughout the process of when the equipment will be available for relocation.

Equipment for Recycling Be sure to properly label and safely pack any equipment that will be transported or shipped for recycling or refurbishment.

Equipment to Be Destroyed For some particularly sensitive data storage equipment, it will need to be physically destroyed using a device shredder or other machine. Make sure you arrange ahead of time for the rental or purchase of these devices, and have a plan for disposing of what remains after the equipment is destroyed.

Equipment for Resale If any of your decommissioned equipment is planned for resale, you’ll want to have adequate storage where it can be safely kept until sales are completed. You also may want to double- and triple-check that all data has been securely wiped before sale, and perform any necessary maintenance or repairs so the equipment is in proper condition to be sold.

8. Choose the Right Data Center Decommissioning Services Partner

If you want to have a truly successful data center decommissioning project, then one step that you should consider is partnering with an expert data center decommissioning service provider.

Experienced ITAD (information technology asset disposition) companies will have the skills, resources, equipment, and teams required to make your decommissioning project as quick, low-cost, and secure as possible. When you’re dealing with the safe disposal of highly secure data and sensitive equipment, you want the trusted support of a partner who will cater to the unique needs of your project.

Wondering how to choose the right data center decommissioning services partner? Here’s a checklist of traits to look for when vetting potential service providers for your decommissioning or data center relocation project.

Service and Responsiveness Before the project itself even begins, it’s essential that your ITAD partner demonstrates the level of communication and service that will be vital throughout the process. Your early interactions with the company should be positive, with quick responses to requests and clear communication about their approach, policies, and expectations for the project. You shouldn’t have to wait days or weeks for responses to queries, and you should always be able to depend on the ability to speak to a human being who can answer your questions and discuss your project’s specifics.

Experience Always partner with an ITAD that can demonstrate a long history of successful projects and satisfied clients. Transpere, for example, has been managing IT-related assets for corporations and government organizations for over 30 years. Whoever you partner with for your data center decommissioning plan, make sure that they’re an organization that can back up their claims with a long list of projects completed on-time, within budget, and without any setbacks or problems.

Required Capabilities Some ITAD companies only handle a limited scope of projects. Others, such as Transpere, offer a wide range of service offerings to handle the full needs of your project. This includes:

  • IT asset disposition
  • Certified Data eradication
  • On-site data center service
  • Value recovery
  • Manufacturing excess disposal
  • Full logistics services …and more.

Make sure that the ITAD company you partner with can handle everything you need as part of your data center decommissioning project.

Accreditation & Recycling Compliance Choose an ITAD company that maintains all of the proper accreditations when it comes to responsible equipment recycling, safe operation, and other relevant certifications. While some of these accreditations are legally required, others simply help show that an ITAD company is willing to go above and beyond to prove their value and dependability to their clients and potential partners.

Reputation Any ITAD company worth partnering with as part of your data center decommissioning plan should be able to provide references from past clients and projects. These references shouldn’t just cover the success of the project, but should also speak to the company’s level of service, communication, skills, and other specific traits that will help ensure that you have a successful data center decommissioning or data center relocation project.

Want to learn more about why Transpere is one of the most trusted data center decommissioning partners in the industry? Contact us today!

How can we help you?

IT Asset Disposition
  • Secure Data Erasure & Drive Destruction
  • Chain of Custody Management
  • Logistics
  • De-installation & Asset Removal
  • Asset Processing
  • Value Recovery
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Managed IT Services
  • Data Center Services
  • Migration Services
  • Cloud Services
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) Solutions
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Data Destruction
  • Data Destruction and Erasure
  • Onsite Data Erasure
  • Mobile Hard Drive Destruction
  • Remote Data Erasure
  • Sensitive Data Destruction
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  • Data Center Decommisssioning
  • Onsite Data Wiping
  • Fully Traceable Chain of Custody
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Refurbished Hardware
  • Procurement
  • Logistics
  • Custom Imaging
  • Remote Work Infrastructure
  • Asset Management Portal
  • Warranty and Support
  • End-of-Life Services
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Remote Workplace Infrastructure
  • Remote Employee Equipment Delivery
  • Equipment Return Management
  • Repair and Replacement
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