An interesting article in NETWORKWORLD talks about how the only thing harder than building a data center is taking apart one, since the potential for service disruption is much higher when closing down a data center than constructing a new one. It’s an interesting and valid point. There’s also likely to be a lot more enterprise IT pro’s discovering this fact—either the hard way or otherwise—over the coming years given what the undisputed move towards the Cloud means for on-premise data centers.

Like any other complex IT project, data center decommissioning requires an in-depth plan that covers asset management, effort by physical dismantlers, compliance with State and Federal laws governing responsible recycling of old IT devices and the secure erasure and destruction of information stored on the equipment as just a few of the basics that need careful consideration.

Data Center Decommissioning – The Right Partner

Most enterprise IT pros are working with Professional Services providers and VAR’s on a number of ongoing and road-mapped projects already, so it would make sense that they would turn to these same trusted consultants when looking for solutions on dealing with an old data center planned for future decommission.

The problem is that most VAR’s and straight up IT services organizations do not have the resources, experience or desire to maintain a practice in this area.

While it might make sense to involve an IT services partner in some capacity, it’s also sensible to bring in a services vendor partner that specializes in the unique complexities and workforce requirements of decommissioning a data center when the established IT services provider does not have a mature practice in that area.

Obsolete Data Center – Requirements Checklist

Before initiating the search for a potential service provider to decommission your data center, it can even be a challenge coming up with the list of requirements for your organization to share with potential vendors to communicate your needs. This is because even writing the RFP/RFQ/RFI for unique services can require a context of knowledge often not found in the enterprise itself.

Many companies are turning to new RFP assistant services such as or turning to their traditional consultant service providers like ABQ-IT to help come up with RFP requirements for data center decommissioning service providers to consume and then submit competitive responses to. (Full disclosure both EZITRFP and ABQ-IT are wholly owned divisions of Albuquerque Computer & Electronic Recycling Company.)

Planning a Data Center Decommissioning – Timeline

The good news is that most enterprise IT groups plan their data center obsolescence at least 18-24 months out which should provide enough time to illicit the business, technical and compliance related requirements and in a formal RFP/RFI/RFQ, then evaluate and select a provider from the responses.

Some of the more obvious and straight forward topics you need to inquire about and questions you need to ask are:

  • Have the supplier offer you with a detailed statement of work setting out how they will handle every element of the date center decommissioning project.
  • Discover if the supplier contracts out any element of information center decommissioning, including labor or information destruction. Inquire about responsible recycling practices and environmental certifications.
  • Request for referrals for the last 3 data center decommissioning customers the vendor serviced.
  • Ask if the vendor will be able to recover value from your retired IT hardware.
  • Ask how data destruction will be managed. If the solution is software application based, discover out the name of the software. Discover about the vendor’s security protocols around information destruction.
  • Learn where the truck goes when it leaves with the equipment. Ask about chain-of-custody.
  • Ask how hazardous products will be gotten rid of.

Given enough time and effort, any organization can successfully implement the decommissioning of an obsolete and no longer needed data center.