Timothy Arnold, Head of Colocation at Six Degrees, discusses the best practice approach data centre teams should take to managing outdated equipment.
Running outdated equipment in your data centre is a drain on finances and resources and can introduce security risks to your organisation. I’ve personally seen 12-year-old equipment that’s never been patched and never been turned off – the security implications of which are significant and warrant serious pause for thought.
When it comes to managing outdated equipment, I believe that prevention is always better than cure. This starts with what many see as the ‘f’ word – functional documentation. It’s dull and time consuming, but the fact is that functional documentation allows you to identify outdated equipment and formulate plans to deal with it.
Try to make documentation as streamlined and functional as possible. You don’t need immaculate visual recreations of each and every piece of equipment – focus on straightforward rack layout drawings using basic rectangles to represent the shape and size of the equipment for a quick and functional drawing.
Ensure that it features asset schedules that include basic information such as host-name, U position, make/model, serial number, date installed, warranty end date, purpose and owner.
I also strongly recommend documenting your patching schedule, at the very least noting where each cable runs to and from. A good tip from my experience is that, if you’re hosting in a colo facility, you should consider getting your vendor to rack, stack and document your equipment. It may cost you in the short-term, but it will transfer the burden to them and provide you with accurate records.
Once you’ve created a schedule of functional documentation, you’ll be in a position to carry out an audit to identify if you have any outdated equipment running in your racks. When it comes to addressing this equipment, the rule of thumb is to prioritise the oldest equipment first. However, don’t just blindly replace like for like; consider if you should virtualise servers running on old tin as part of a broader digital transition strategy.
For any outdated equipment that needs to stay in situ – perhaps it’s running a critical application and downtime and migration need to be considered carefully – minimise your risk exposure by updating to the latest patch levels and keeping a supply of hard drives and hot swappable power supplies.
In summary, document your racks, identify any outdated equipment, create a schedule for switching off or migrating away and take steps to minimise risk for any outdated equipment that needs to remain in situ for the time being