Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Reviewing the steps to decommission a server can help you plan to achieve data security compliance while improving your data center's strategies to lower costs and reduce the environmental impact of eliminating outdated or “comatose” servers from your assets.

When Should A Server Be Decommissioned?

Surveys suggest that 8-10% of servers in use are being underutilized or are obsolete. Without a proactive plan to remove obsolete servers, as much as 15-30% of your data center equipment may be “comatose.”1

There are a number of ways to determine which servers are consuming space, electricity, and licensing fees while providing little or no value to your network users:

  • When a server's unplanned outage generates no complaints from users
  • When switching off a server for planned maintenance causes no interruptions
  • When automated monitoring tools indicate that there is little or no traffic to the server
  • When the owners of hosted applications report that those applications are no longer needed

What Are The Benefits Of Decommissioning Servers?

Cost savings to your organization can be very significant and free up IT budget for new equipment or projects. Some examples of the cost savings in decommissioning servers include1:

  • Decommissioning one server rack may save $2500 per year in energy, maintenance, and system licensing costs.
  • One example of comatose virtual server costs found that, over 90 days, eliminating 42 unused virtual servers saved $50,000 in licensing costs.
  • By using data wiping software, organizations save on physical destruction costs, prevent landfill waste, and recover the value of retired IT assets and decommissioned servers.

Data Center Guidelines For Server Decommission

Once the servers to be decommissioned have been identified, there are industry-specific and general guidelines that should be followed to protect sensitive data at all steps of the process and provide a clear audit trail of equipment or data destruction:

  • Create a server lifecycle plan that includes recycling, resale, or repurposing if possible.
  • Back up data that is not intended to be destroyed.
  • Locate, move, or cancel software licenses and maintenance contracts on the server.
  • Disconnect the server from the network, removing all subnets and firewalls.
  • Run data wiping software tools to securely erase all data from the equipment.
  • Document the process steps and completion for audit purposes.

Automated Data Erasure Streamlines Server Decommissioning

By making use of the best hard drive wipe software available, many data centers can decommission a server with fewer steps and less risk. Without the use of an industry-approved or -certified hard drive eraser, complete physical destruction of the old hard drives may be required to meet data security requirements.

Choosing an enterprise-level data erasure solution from WhiteCanyon Software will enable your IT experts to securely manage data erasure requirements, not only at equipment end of life but at every needed or required step of data security management. With both remote and onsite software solutions to merge smoothly with your organization's protocols, WhiteCanyon Software can help meet the needs of any complex data center system.

Our expert consultants can answer any questions and provide the most comprehensive planning and implementation of our secure data erasure solutions. Contact us at 801.224.8900 today to streamline your equipment retirement processes with the same automated data wiping software certified for use by the DHS and other top security agencies.

Source:

  1. https://www.energystar.gov/products/low_carbon_it_campaign/12_ways_save_energy_data_center/decommissioning_unused_servers