All good things come to an end, and this is especially true of your IT hardware; your routers/firewalls, servers, and storage. It’s best to treat the decommissioning of this equipment as an ongoing process, and approach it with as much planning as possible. Remember your hardware goes through four main phases in its life span. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll look at the fourth and final phase: End of Life (EOL). At this point, the manufacturer no longer sells or updates or supports the hardware. When your equipment has reached this stage, the question becomes how do you decommission older equipment and safely remove it to be destroyed or recycled?

Disposing your IT equipment is complex. In fact, it can take more time to decommission it than deploying it– if you are doing it correctly. It requires the same inter-departmental communication as it did when you were purchasing it and deploying it.

Here are a few important points to remember:

  • Deploying the new hardware was like working with a blank slate. Now that you are decommissioning it, the slate is far from blank. First, ensure successful migration of all data to another platform. Second, you must incorporate security protocols to ensure that all confidential company data is removed and remains protected, even long after your IT equipment has left your company’s premises.
  • In other words, assets must be scrubbed, and not just to protect the company. According to the Data Protection Act of 1998: “…all information collected by an organization must be destroyed when the media on which it is stored becomes redundant. organizations and individuals within organizations have a duty of care obligation to ensure that the confidential data they hold is not released in an unauthorized or accidental way, particularly data relating to employees or customers.”
  • Just as important as data security is disposing of the hardware in an environmentally safe fashion. You might decide to do this yourself, or use a third party vendor. In either scenario, disposal must follow the specific protocols of environmental legislation. Since 1990, the days of disposing obsolete computers and hardware in the city dump are long gone.
  • The Environmental Act of 1995 states: “All redundant (no economic value) computer equipment is classed as Waste. CRT monitors are classed as hazardous waste. You must ensure your collection agents hold a Waste Carrier License. You must ensure that your waste equipment goes to a licensed disposal site. Your legal Duty of Care extends to when your equipment is reused, recycled or disposed of.”

You can also manage the lifecycle of your hardware in a more cost effective, holistic way by recycling it. Understanding the maintenance and the lifecycle of your IT equipment, will allow you to trade it in before its obsolescence.

At Summit, we buy and sell a wide variety of used products such as networking equipment, storage devices and servers. We will pick up your surplus or off-lease hardware and bring it to our facility. After we audit and test it we will send you a detailed inventory report. Then we will send you a check or credit your account for future purposes. If you want to consign, the equipment will be remarketed for top dollar. Each month, Summit will send you a “sales out” report explaining in detail how much each piece of inventory sold for. You then get a monthly check for your percentage of the sale of any items sold.

So, whether you decide to decommission and destroy your IT equipment, or recycle it, remember it’s important to be methodical in your approach. Keep a check list for the decommissioning process; including the specifics of equipment components that have been or will be processed, where they will go next, and who is responsible for each step in the operation. It’s also a good idea, in terms of data management and security, to not leave systems running unnecessarily, and make sure to clear all configuration settings.