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Checklist for Selecting a Decommissioning Vendor
When embarking on a project as complex as decommissioning a data center, it is critical to have the right partner by your side. The entire project will be more successful and positive for your staff if the vendor you select is a good fit for your organization. The vendor’s service range, industry reputation, size and financial stability should all be considered. Can they provide a project plan, data destruction services, resell and recycle decommissioned assets, methodically account for all inventory and provide accurate reports? Can they support removal of racks, cables, UPS, generators and other ancillary equipment? Here are six topics and questions that will help you find the right data center decommissioning vendor for you.
Decommissioning and removal of assets is not just a matter of unplugging and packing unused equipment. It is a complex process that is often made more complicated because it frequently occurs in a live environment. As it relates to on-site services, you will want to ask your vendors these questions:
- Can the vendor decommission, disassemble and prepare equipment for shipping?
- Can they help you avoid costly data breaches by providing data destruction services at the data center?
- Are they able to provide a project plan with clear and complete allocation of responsibilities?
- Do they have documented processes to ensure there is no disruption to the live environment that manages your daily operations?
- Can they work during off-peak hours in a live data center? Do they have a proven track record of data center work?
Data Security and Data Destruction
Why take unnecessary risks when you can have your digital data destroyed before it leaves your custody. Data breaches have become more common and costly, and Data Center Managers are seeking to proactively manage digital data by destroying it on-site. No company is exempt, and it is critical for companies to take action. As it relates to data destruction, you need to ask these questions of your vendor:
- What data destruction/hard drive erasure services can the company provide?
- Do they have solutions to destroy data for the full range of storage media – magnetic hard drives and tapes, solid state drives, flash storage and storage area networks (SANs)?
- Can their equipment handle your volume requirements?
- What data destruction reporting is provided to demonstrate your compliance to corporate and regulatory requirements, including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?
- If data is not destroyed on-site, how are IT assets securely removed from the data center?
- How will they guarantee an unbroken chain of custody?
Compliance – Tracking and Reporting
For audit purposes associated with regulatory and corporate compliance, defined processes that demonstrate discipline, due diligence and best practices in how IT and data center equipment are handled and data destroyed are critical. Your decommissioning partner needs to provide proof that processes were followed and data was responsibly destroyed. If you are faced with a legislative audit, it’s important to demonstrate that assets and data were disposed compliant with regulations, in a consistent, repeatable and predictable manner. When speaking to a potential vendor, you will want to ask:
- How are assets managed once they are removed from the data center environment?
- Are there any vulnerabilities in the chain of custody after assets leave your custody?
- Does the vendor ensure security during transit? How are assets tracked when being processed for resale or recycling?
- What documentation and reports can the vendor provide for your corporate and regulatory requirements?
- For inventory reconciliation?
- How do they ensure accuracy of reports?
- What proof points can they offer to demonstrate what happens to your equipment once it is removed from the data center?
Resale of Retired Assets
Reselling your decommissioned assets is a great way to help offset project costs, as well as reduce the total cost of IT ownership. To understand a vendor’s resale expertise it is good to ask:
- Does the vendor have capability and expertise to sell a full range of data equipment profitably?
- How do they maximize resell value of assets?
- Do they offer unique processing capabilities to maximize value recovery from your equipment?
- Are they experienced in selling component parts as well as complete assets?
- Are they well connected in secondary markets?
- Can they sell items in bulk and also through retail channels? What global markets do they operate in?
Recycling of Obsolete Electronics
Equipment that is not resold will be recycled. This step can easily be overlooked but is an important part of managing the final disposition of IT equipment. The electronics recycling industry has been a boom and bust market for the last ten years. A quick Google search of “e-waste exports” or “bankrupt electronic recyclers” quickly demonstrates the potential for bad behavior and poor performance in the recycling industry.
Ensuring the recycling of your equipment is done by a responsible company is important to protecting the reputation of your organization. Ensure your vendor undertakes responsible recycling that meets all local and regional legislative requirements. When it comes to the recycling of your equipment you can ask your vendor the following questions:
- How is obsolete and broken equipment disposed?
- Is this subcontracted out? If so, how are subcontractors vetted and managed?
- Are their operations certified to industry standards?
- What insurance do they carry?
- Does it include pollution liability coverage?
- What proof do they offer that no hazardous material is sent to landfill?
- Can they provide an audit trail to guarantee no e-waste is illegally exported?
With these questions answered, you will be empowered to choose the right data center decommissioning partner for your project, and can ensure your equipment and data is secure and responsibly processed at your data center, in transit and at a vendor’s facility.