11 Essential Steps to Consider When Retiring Data Center Server Hardware

Organizations managing diverse server environments often encounter challenges when decommissioning server hardware. While software and internal compliance requirements differ across organizations, this concise list of essential tasks and tips can help validate or establish an IT Asset Disposition program for retiring physical data center servers.

1. Conduct IT Physical & Logical Asset Audit

Identify the physical server in your facility slated for decommissioning, and document all relevant asset information prior to finalizing the decommission date. Employ physical asset tagging and logical recording for the retiring server. In your timeline, account for potential unexpected issues during the process.

2. Establish an Activity Log

Formulate a detailed log of all actions taken during server decommissioning. Thoroughly document each step for compliance, preparing for potential audits and checks. Include the certificate of erasure/destruction. If using an asset management system, input the steps and record each action during server removal and decommissioning.

3. Retrieve Licenses

Identify and preserve all software licenses for the server. As decommissioned servers no longer necessitate software support, determine which licenses can be canceled or redeployed. Share licensing details with IT asset management teams and systems.

4. Terminate Support Contracts

Upon scheduling server decommissioning, vendor maintenance for related hardware or software becomes redundant. Coordinate with your contracts team to inform vendors and inquire about prorated refunds for unused support or subscription credits. A schedule of server retirements can help stay ahead of contract cancellation periods, as advance notice is often required.

5. Generate and Validate Backups

Retaining server information is crucial. Test your backup process and disaster recovery to ensure proper functionality. Implement a comprehensive backup routine that can be verified upon completion.

6. Wipe Data or Opt for Physical Destruction

Execute data erasure software while the server remains in its rack. Data wiping, an environmentally friendly option, renders erased data unrecoverable and more secure than other methods. Follow all instructions from your chosen tool. Data erasure facilitates server resale or redeployment. Maintain detailed records of the data wiping process and obtain a certificate of erasure. Comply with global data and privacy regulations before reselling. Collaborate with a reputable IT Asset Disposal (ITAD) company to maximize compliance and ROI.

7. Disconnect Asset from the Network

Unplug the server from the network, removing all subnets, access control lists (ACLs), and firewalls. These tasks can be intricate, and improper execution may cause network complications. Collaborate with qualified partners or your network management team to complete these steps.

8. Power Down and De-install from Rack

Following proper shutdown procedures for your software environments, power down the server, disconnect cables, and remove it from the rack. A trained technician or a partner offering data center “smart hand” services should handle physical server removals, preferably during scheduled maintenance windows.

9. Understand Destruction Options

If data-wiping software is not utilized, physically destroy the server’s storage systems via shredding, degaussing, or another approved method. Partner with a reputable IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) provider for this process. Keep detailed records of the physical destruction process and ensure receipt and proper archiving of a certificate of destruction.

10. Package and Track Removals

Place the server on a pallet and remove it from your facility. Repurpose the equipment, sell it to a technology resale company, or dispose of it through an e-waste and recycling provider.

11. Communicate with Cross-functional Teams

Inform all relevant internal departments and business partners of the decommissioning plan, particularly those dependent on server applications. For organizations using change control procedures, communicate asset removals promptly and accurately, obtaining necessary sign-offs.

These steps provide a foundation for developing a server decommission program. Each organization and technology may entail unique requirements in addition to those listed. Engaging a proven IT Asset Disposition partner can help address gaps or specific business needs.

Top Gun offers customizable IT Asset Decommissioning (ITAD) Services to meet each client’s requirements. Consult with our qualified ITAD specialists to validate or develop your ITAD program.

Blog Author Details

Richard Arnold
Portfolio Director of Physical Services

Top Gun
Richard’s LinkedIn Profile