Ganesh Bhat, Head of Data Centres, eHosting DataFort, discusses what best practice approach data centre managers should take to managing outdated equipment.
Any industrial plant that runs for years lowers the efficiency. Data centres are the IT industry’s power house which is expected to run most efficiently. Data centres support an organisation’s mission critical infrastructure or a service provider’s IT operations, that further supports day to day business in a 24/7/365 fashion.
IT managers do their best to keep IT infrastructure updated in terms of software patches and updates. In a similar manner they also bring in upgrades of their hardware equipment.
But similar to industrial equipment, large-scale, sprawling deployments of any IT working systems face obsolescence of all manners and need to be replaced. Replacing the hardware systems in a data centre, whether compute, storage, networking, power and cooling, can be especially challenging for multiple reasons.
From an environmental protection point of view, hardware can be recycled through specialised agencies if it is made available through their established channels. It can also be reused for less critical and offline operations and therefore has a disposable asset value, however low in comparison to the purchase price.
More importantly, IT hardware needs to be sanitised to remove all traces of corporate and other data. It is not enough to delete and reformat the hard disks and so on. Large corporate and service providers run the risk of data theft and planned espionage if their IT assets are not disposed in an audited and sophisticated manner. Degaussing and destroying plays important role in data centres.
Research conducted by Coleman Parkes for Blancco in December 2018, across 600 data centres in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America, found that inefficient data sanitisation is costing organisations hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
For others, more than half of their onsite IT assets are essentially dead weight, resulting in loss of efficiency, continuing support and maintenance costs and non-compliance with potential security risks. Two in five organisations that store their data in-house are spending over US$100,000 to manage obsolete IT hardware.
Industry experts point out these critical limits are being breached because there is insufficient knowledge and operational practices on how to manage hardware technology obsolescence. Very few vendors offer a continuous process of built in replacement of hardware, and usually the only way out is a forklift approach. It is only recently that many vendors have started to offer an evergreen approach of built in replacement of their SSD arrays and retain their customers globally.
Any hardware revamp programme needs to follow these steps – identify the latest design standards; benchmark current and future performance expectations; conduct an internal gap analysis along these standards; and finally, prioritise all steps taken to modernise the data centre.
Same goes with facility devices and equipment to achieve expected, continuous, mission critical, efficient operation.