What should you do with old servers and outdated data center equipment?

Complications arise when replacing nonfunctional data center equipment. Decide what to do with the old equipment and how to handle retrofits.

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For problems encountered when renovating data center facilities to choosing between reducing, reusing or recycling assets, SearchDataCenter offers guidance on the process. We've gathered several helpful tips into this list of frequently asked questions about old servers and data center overhauls.

Are newer, high-density servers too much for older rack cooling technology?

Older rack cooling technology might not handle higher server density well. In a data center, the cooling system's capability must equal the heat from server density for proper performance; an older system may be inadequately matched to cool higher server densities. Since vendors are building energy-efficient technology into new server platforms, compute capacity can grow while the cooling system stays the same. But with an increase in rack server density, cooling with traditional technologies such as computer room air conditioners is extremely difficult. Consider data center renovations in order to match rack cooling technology with server density.

Which is better for your data center: DC or AC power?

Accessibility and cost drove alternating current (AC) implementation. AC is not, however, the most efficient channel of power delivery. As power costs influence budget-conscience data centers, direct current (DC) use is increasingly popular. AC inherently loses power as it transmits, but you pay for the amount of power that left the power plant. DC is the unidirectional flow or movement of electric charge carriers and therefore eliminates loss.

Consider cost and efficiency when choosing between DC and AC. Eliminating loss at points of conversion will save money, although the actual amount of savings with DC power is unclear. No one configuration is less efficient than others under every potential load condition, according to a report from The Green Grid, an organization promoting resource efficiency in data centers. Each new generation of servers produces higher efficiencies, causing difficulty when deciphering power's role.

So, when deciding between AC and DC for your data center, consider the size of the facility and recognize the possibility for renovations. Switching from AC to DC involves highly disruptive technology.

How do you prevent cable damage in a data center?

Operating data centers during renovations can lead to significant complications. There is no room for negligence when it comes to infrastructure cabling during retrofits. No cabling should remain on the floor; serious consequences can occur should the cables be stepped on, damaged from leaking pipes, in contact with electromagnetic sources, or ignited from any source of heat. All cabling should be redirected before renovations begin if the cables risk being jeopardized. A data center renovation may lead to improved network cable management, but protection during the retrofit is paramount.

What are your options to recycle old servers?

When data center equipment is unable to perform adequately, it is time to replace it with newer, proficient hardware. Getting rid of those old servers means careful IT asset disposal must be implemented. And you have options.

Work with a vendor that deals with used machines; they may be able to reuse, recycle or discard old equipment. Consider selling your used IT gear to secondary markets, or reallocate it internally.

Donating to charity is another option. It offers a tax benefit based on the value of the equipment, it moves the gear off your site and it helps a needy business. And when all else fails, recycle as scrap metal. No matter which option you choose, remember to keep documentation, accessories and software with the system.

How do you securely remove data when you donate servers?

Many organizations opt for centralized storage for fear of data leakage when they dispose of hard drives. Removing local disks also removes the opportunity to leak important data. Protect corporate data assets by uninstalling apps and operating systems before using software tools to overwrite the contents of the disk, therefore scrubbing it clean of information. Eliminate and destroy local hard disks. This can physically be done with a sledgehammer or other tool, or the data center can hire a data destruction service. Deleting data isn't enough; it is imperative that local data is not recoverable.

This was first published in January 2014

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