Challenges when recycling components and securing data
Big data is a byproduct of business and the larger the business, the larger the dataset. Cloud storage continues to evolve, and the prevailing trend is to blend private and public offsite storage arrangements. Hybrid storage, the use of public and private data storage hardware, is now the norm.
In looking at the benefits of public storage facilities, it’s easy for decision makers to jump upon the cheaper cost and lack for needed hardware maintenance. The storage methodology is also scalable with the purchase of more available data limits.
Private data storage poses a different avenue of strengths and weaknesses. A firm dealing with sensitive data may need to keep all their data on company owned hardware. In doing this, the firm purchases or leases hardware which is hosted at a dedicated datacenter and linked via the firm’s API software interface.
This level of security comes at a price. The company is responsible for hardware cost, be it maintenance of the present system or the need to add more hardware for higher data storage levels. The eventual decommissioning of the datacenter hardware also lingers as an added end-of-life cost. The hybrid system takes public and private hosting methods and blends them into a cost-efficient model.
In looking at the recycling efforts of a datacenter, a firm hosting its data on a public network would incur no cost benefit or loss if the datacenter was decommissioned. But if the datacenter is a private network, the firm is responsible for decommissioning efforts and proper disposal of recyclable and hazardous materials.
This article is a good example of public data storage methods
The article was written using Microsoft Word. The original file is saved on my hard drive. Then a backup is kept on our backup hardware within the company’s IT department. At the next layer, public cloud storage is also provided as part of the Microsoft 365 platform. I simply set up my file structure to back up my hard-drive documents to the Microsoft cloud platform on a rotational basis. I’m not paying a premium for higher security nor am I responsible for datacenter maintenance. I’m a laissez-faire customer in its most simple of forms.
The internal IT backup classifies as on onsite, private storage. The company is solely responsible for the hardware and software. As the user of this private, company-located backup data, I can’t effectively access it when I travel.
Let’s assume this article is HIPAA, (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) controlled medical data. My regulatory requirements for the privacy for this data change. Now I require private, offsite cloud storage. And with cloud data storage, I can access the data from the web.
As another example, governmen oversight may control some data. Or perhaps the organization wants to implement what it considers a more robust security infrastructure. This sets up a sunsetting issue for company hardware.
Regulatory statutes which effect data privacy:
- Dodd-Frank Act, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).
Here at Exit Technologies, we decommission data centers. Not only do we recycle the component parts of the servers and other hardware, we also destroy data. Unfortunately, It’s not uncommon for less than scrupulous companies to remove hard drives without deleting data hidden from the operating system or the interconnectivity bus software. That’s why we invested the time to create a purpose-built secure data destruction software. Read our blog on Data Center Security Best Practices for more information.
Data Center Sunsetting
Data security is the first benchmark for decommissioning a data center. With many of the earlier data centers built around hardware specifications and security as an afterthought, it’s imperative for the hardware owner to implement security protocols. Erasing disk drives may not be enough. A question to ask a potential recycler is, “do they shred hard drives on site?”
During our asset valuation phase, we run an automated agent-less asset discovery. This allows the data center’s IT department to control all system configurations. While it may seem like a small issue, consider as example a data center hosting a thousand or more server racks. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Data Centers) The discovery phase identifies the hardware in need of sunsetting. Additionally, it allows the recycler and local IT to have a finite bid package of what must be decommissioned.
Data Center Growth
Experts estimate data center growth of 4% per annum in the next few years. Further, this may be a conservative estimate. As one example, drones drive significant data growth. These sophisticated machines are a near limitless platform for data gathering: geological survey, thermal mapping, security.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are 3 million data centers scattered across urban and rural areas in the U.S. More than 90% of the servers are, however, housed in data centers and owned or leased by small and medium size businesses. However, the major cloud providers and national supercomputer centers own less than 10% of servers located in large data centers. (Andrea, Mike. 2014. “Data Center Standards: Size and Density,” The Strategic Directions Group Pty Ltd.)
Therein lies the enterprise level data center quagmire. If less than 10% of data centers are owned by ‘for lease’ hosting companies, this resolves to 3.16 million privately owned centers, assuming a 4% growth per year since 2014.
Average lifespan for data center hardware is four years
This presents an opportunity for companies like Exit Technologies. It also poses a continual overhead cost most firms don’t want to absorb. Hence our reliance on recycling and reselling hardware, component level microprocessors, and base metals. All of which is R2 Certified. We also focus on long term gain for the data center and structure the cost for sunsetting against the resale value of the recycled hardware. In most cases the data center incurs no cost for the sunsetting and shares the resale value of resold hardware and recyclables with Exit Technologies.
At the End of the Day
Concluding our article, the question to ask at the end of the day is, are you putting off hardware improvements within your data center and if so why? Data center competition is on the rise and those who fail to leverage the backend recycling against new hardware installation will quickly find themselves running legacy hardware. It’s a cost vs. income problem, bundled in a tidy package of planning for tomorrow.
When you are planning a IT Disposition you need proper documentation and asset records check out our blog on the subject: Why Accurate Records are Critical to Plan for IT Disposition. If you or your company needs IT equipment valuated by trained professionals, please visit Asset Liquidation or our Data Center Decommissioning page for more information.
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