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Data Center Decommissioning Checklist

Building your data center requires upfront planning and careful thinking, but it is a doable process.

January 8, 2021

A data center decommissioning checklist can be just what you need to tackle the daunting task of data center decommissioning. 

While you’ll undoubtedly need to dismantle servers as part of your data center decommissioning, there’s a lot more involved in data center decommissioning. You’ll need to consider all of the different equipment and support systems while smoothly transitioning the system. When dismantling a data center, the risk for business disruption is even greater than when constructing one. 

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel: Careful planning and a robust strategy allow you to enjoy a smooth decommissioning process. 

As long as you embrace detailed planning and organization, you’ll be able to decommission your data center successfully. What’s even better is that reputable partners like BLM Technologies offer a wide selection of decommissioning resources and have all the tools you need to ensure a smooth process. 

Before you can decommission a data center, you must understand an overview of the primary process. After you gain a general idea of the process, you’ll know which partners and contractors can best help you.

The details of each data center will vary based on its size, equipment, and configuration, but here are the necessary steps:

1. Draft a Statement of Work

Before doing anything else, draft a statement of work for the decommissioning project. Set goals and expected outcomes. Layout timelines and milestones. Specify the budget and assign a project manager to oversee the decommissioning. 

2. Complete an Inventory 

The next step is to complete an inventory of your entire data center. You need to know what equipment you have, which apps live on which devices, where your data is, etc. Typically, this information is hosted in a configuration management database (CMDB), but the CMBD is only as helpful as the data you enter in it. Determine the final destination for each item (reuse, remarket, or recycle), and attempt IT asset recovery when possible. 

3. Map Dependencies

Map out the dependencies in your data center. Segment what’s in your data center so that it’s easier to create phases and limit the chances of something going wrong. You’ll need to work in steps when disassembling your data center, and mapping dependencies will allow you to do that. 

4. Create an Implementation Plan 

Next, create an implementation plan. The plan should list the responsibilities, roles, and activities to be performed. Craft workflows and backup systems to ensure there’s no critical data or power loss, and issue relevant warnings about potential service downtime. Gather a contract list of vendors for the work and prepare the tracking numbers for each asset. Your plan should include removal plans for:

  • Emergency generators and auxiliary equipment. 
  • Cooling units, external chillers, and associated systems. 
  • Servers

5. Make a List of Required Tools 

Create a list of materials, labor, and tools you’ll need to decommission your data center. Depending on the nature of your data center, these tools could include device shredders, forklifts, boxes, labels, crates, or hand tools. Forecast the labor for the project and specify what the job requires at each stage.

6. Consider Equipment Removal and Data Sanitization 

When the time comes to remove equipment, ensure that you back up all data and migrate all applications. Power down and disconnect the equipment. Record serials, tag hardware assets, and label the map cables. Data sanitization may be handled on or offsite, but should it be elsewhere, you’ll need to transport the equipment and have a logistics plan in place. Prepare each device for recycling by erasing, degaussing, or shredding. 

7. Pack the Equipment

After equipment teardown, it’s time for packing. Appropriately pack each item according to your plan. If the equipment is going to be reused in your organization, follow the instructions for handoff. Equipment designated for recycling or refurbishment should be packed and labeled for the intended recipient. Track all stages using your IT asset management software. 

8. Dispose of Assets 

Accurately record all disposes of assets. Confirm the secure chain of custody and sanitization certificates for any refurbished equipment. Reference an itemized certificate of destruction for any devices that you are disposing of. Examine the total value recovered and returned to your IT budgets and ensure compliance with responsible recycling practices. 

This data center decommissioning checklist provides a high-level overview of the process and offers a general framework for the steps to consider. Referencing this data center decommissioning checklist throughout your planning and strategy will ensure you develop realistic timelines and stay on track throughout the process. 

As you begin to look for the service providers you’ll need, it’s crucial to consider expertise in multiple aspects of data center decommissioning. BLM Technologies has the knowledge, experience, and care that you need to simplify and streamline your project. We can address IT support, project management, service delivery, and other critical data center decommission areas through FlexForce. To learn more about how we can help with your data center decommissioning project, contact us today.

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