White Paper Decommissioning

How We Decommission Racks and Servers

A successful decommissioning project requires effective project planning and coordinated efforts. We ensure no disruption to the live environment and guarantee our work is performed in a systematic, secure and safe manner. The steps listed below provide a quick overview of how equipment is handled by SLS when decommissioned. Data is destroyed consistent with your requirements and inventory is accurately audited and tracked. Our work is disciplined and systematic, supported by standard operating procedures, security protocols, checklists, forms and a systematic tagging system.

1. Decommission Racks and Other IT Equipment

Whole racks will be shipped intact or moved to a staging area within the data center. Site and time constraints dictate if racks are shipped or servers removed, packed and shipped separately.

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2. Prepare Equipment to Be Removed from the Data Center

In the staging area, the decommissioning team will:

  • Derack IT equipment (this can be done on-premise or at an ITAD processing facility)
  • Remove servers, disk arrays, switches, routers and other networking equipment
  • Pull hard drives and destroy data (on-premise or at processing facility)
  • Deinstall rail kits, power cords and cabling
  • Tape libraries and jukeboxes
  • Remove unused legacy cables, as required
  • Perform a physical inventory of equipment and generate an electronic list of equipment

Leased Equipment

Leased equipment can be prepared for return to the leasing company. Preparation typically includes data erasure, asset tag removal and minor repairs as needed.

Asset List Reconciliation

If a data center manager provides a detailed asset list in advance, the decommissioning vendor can perform a physical inventory of decommissioned equipment, using serial numbers to confirm asset lists. This process can ensure all IT assets and data center equipment is accounted for, which is important for financial and legal recordkeeping. If discrepancies are identified, the decommissioning team will work with the data center manager to resolve.  A finalized inventory list is provided to the data center manager, prior to equipment removal.

3. On-Premise Data Destruction

Most companies want digital data to be destroyed while data bearing equipment is still in their custody. Some data center managers choose to manage this part of the service in-house to have more control over ensuring all data is destroyed. The decommissioning vendor typically offers several on-premise data destruction options including physical destruction and data erasure, and can guide you toward a solution suited to your needs. Data erasure allows secure reuse of storage devices. Magnetic hard drives and magnetic tapes, solid state drives and optical storage devices each require different data destruction methods. Certificates of Data Destruction (CODD) are provided by the vendor during the project. The CODD demonstrates compliance to corporate and regulatory requirements, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

4. Pack and Ship Assets to SLS Circular Center

After inventory is validated and data is destroyed, all decommissioned equipment is packaged, shrink wrapped on pallets, and prepared for shipment.

  • Serialized equipment is tracked individually with serial number capture.
  • Peripheral equipment (keyboards, cables, obsolete networking equipment) is boxed and tracked by weight.

How to Pack Decommissioned Assets

How to Pack Decommissioned Assets

5. Transport to SLS Circular Center

Data center equipment is shipped based on size of shipment and security requirements of the data center.

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6. Refurbish and Redeploy IT Equipment

Data center equipment can be reconfigured and refurbished and then redeployed to another client owned data center. We also recover critical spare parts for clients to use to maintain legacy equipment. Redeployment of whole units and parts is a great way to conserve resources, save money and reduce the carbon impact of your IT ecosystem.

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7. Refurbish and Resell IT Equipment

If there is no internal need for the decommissioned equipment, it can be resold on behalf of the data center. Equipment condition and age of will be evaluated, to determine whether equipment will be reused or recycled. SLS resells assets through retail and wholesale channels. These behind-the-scenes activities help offset the cost of decommissioning, data destruction, shipping and reporting.

Reselling IT Equipment

See how equipment is sold.

IT Asset Disposition Process

Systematic handling is key!

8. Parts Recovery if Whole Unit Reuse is not Possible

A parts recovery program provides an additional revenue source when assets cannot be sold as a whole unit.

9. Recycle Obsolete or Proprietary Equipment

Any equipment that is obsolete or beyond economical repair is recycled. The recycling process separates steel, plastic, aluminum, copper and precious metals from each other, which then allows for reuse of these commodities in next generation products.

10. Reporting

Once resold, recycled or redeployed, reporting helps document an audit trail for the final disposition of all assets. Asset reporting should include detailed asset information, final disposition, pricing, and dates of significant activities. You should have the ability to view online reports and be able to download .csv through a portal, which might include Certificates of Data Destruction, Certificates of Recycling and Certificates of Sustainability.

employees processing microchips

Managing Data Center Decommissioning Globally

Ultimately it would always be easier working with one vendor all over the world. However most global companies in need of comprehensive data center services will need to use 2-3 vendors to do the work. It is recommended to rationalize logistics to reduce costs where possible, so clients usually will try to find qualified vendors with processing sites located near theirs. While the structure of the relationship can be different with different vendors, it is important that vendors are carefully vetted.

Attributes of strong decommissioning vendors include:

  • Comprehensive capabilities (i.e. decommissioning, inventory reconciliation, data destruction, reuse and recycling)
  • Defined and written processes to ensure work is done systematically and accurately
  • Certifications for security and compliance standards
  • Data destruction services consistent with industry standards
  • A commitment to maximizing resource recovery, consistent with circular economy principles
  • A documented process

A Sustainable Success Story

As data centers continue to seek opportunities to decarbonize their activities, repurposing retired data center equipment contribute to these goals.

We Pick Up When You Power Down

SLS offers comprehensive decommissioning services for all types of data centers globally.