Data Center Decommissioning Checklist and Essential Questions to Answer

You’re probably reading this because you want to close, migrate, move to a colocation, or decommission your data center. Your IT department may already be planning to migrate the data on the servers and storage systems and decommission the servers and network gear. But how are you going to decommission the infrastructure equipment that supports the servers and network equipment in your data center? How will you ensure that the space you leased is returned exactly how your landlord wants it?


Your lease tells how you must leave your leased space – the lease dictates what must be removed, what can be left behind, the level of the repair required as well as what timeframe you must leave the site. You may be asking yourself how your company is going to remove the electrical switchgear, generator, UPSs, batteries, HVAC equipment, and the raised flooring. In addition, you’ll need to determine what’s required to return the space to your landlord without incurring additional fees.

USA Decom helps its clients through the planning process by asking visiting them at their business location to evaluate their needs. If you are determined to manage your project in-house, the following data center decommissioning checklist will help to get you started down the right path.

1. Assign Project Manager

For a data center decommission or an entire site closure, the project manager usually often falls within the Real Estate, Facilities, or IT departments. Companies must coordinate with several departments within the organization and select key team players from Real Estate, Legal, Facilities, IT, and sometimes Security, Desktop Support, Telecom, and Network departments. There are often both local and regional facilities managers included in the process.

2. Develop the Scope of Work for your Decommissioning Project

To help build the scope document, first, review the lease documentation for the office and/or warehouse and compare that with the current condition of the space. USA Decom will help build the scope of work document after a thorough site walk has been performed.

3. Prepare a Schedule

Timing will be determined by understanding when the site will go “dark” – that is, when the last network circuit is disconnected and/or when the last employee will be finished with their tasks.

Once that date is compared to the lease-end date, you will know how much time you will have to complete the project. You’ll want to next ask yourself whether this timing is reasonable. If not, consider starting some tasks early to “get ahead” of the schedule. If starting early won’t give you enough time, consider discussing time constraints with business entities within your organization.

USA Decom can help prepare a project schedule for the labor to disconnect and remove the equipment from the site, clean the site, and perform all other related tasks to your site decommission project. To help you overcome time constraints and return the property to the landlord on time, USA Decom will be able to provide enough staff and manage the progress of the project to ensure you meet your deadline.


4. Create a Budget

Your data center decommissioning budget will be determined by several factors including timing, scope, location, and asset types. USA Decom may also give you credit back for the assets they are removing – make sure to consider these credits when calculating your budget.

5. Timing for your Data Center Decommission

With more time to complete the project, you’ll have more time to plan carefully. With more available time and help from an experienced data center decommissioning company, you’ll also have the potential to save money by having more time to sell any assets that the company doesn’t plan to keep. In fact, companies sometimes pay very little or will even receive money for the project because of the amount of value in the assets to be sold or disposed of.

Does your “go dark” day limit how much time you will have to complete the project? Does the end-of-lease date affect your timing? Sometimes your clients or tenants in the data center need to stay longer than you expected so you’ll need to decide if the company will have to go month to month on the lease or if you have to move the client to another server in another building or city.

6. Scope

What’s your plan? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Will you just clean up and walk away, or do you need to remove everything, fully renovate, and return the site back to a “white box?”
  • Do you have to replace the concrete pad under the generator, or leave it?
  • Is repairing drywall, painting, and ceiling tiles important to the landlord?
  • Beyond removing the equipment, in what condition does the landlord expect the building to be left?

7. Location

How does your location, both within the building you lease and where in the country, affect your project? For example, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, and other downtown locations are more costly to perform projects than other cities in the United States. In addition, is your site on the 50th floor downtown or in an industrial park 20 minutes out of town? The location of your site will also affect budget considerations.


8. Data Center Infrastructure Equipment Types to Sell or Dispose

What types of infrastructure equipment need to be removed from the building? Considerations for you:

  • Are you removing just the equipment in the racks such as network gear and servers?
  • Are you required to remove the furniture, raised flooring, electrical infrastructure, generator(s), UPSs?
  • Do you already have plans to keep some of your assets but move them to another company location?
  • Do you know what assets you want to sell?
  • What’s your plan for the remaining equipment?
  • Do you want to donate any of your assets?

As mentioned previously, some of the equipment can be sold and will help recover the costs of the project while other asset types cost more to remove and dispose of than they are worth. These factors must be considered when calculating a budget, time, and scope.

If you’re not certain about the value of your assets and which you will keep and move, sell, or dispose of, USA Decom can assist by making recommendations that will give you the best return for your assets.

One Last Tip

On a final note, If the thought of taking on a data center decommissioning project from start to finish is overwhelming to you, USA Decom has both the experience and expertise to make it easy for you. They have teams across the country available to dispatch to your location with enough manpower to ensure your project is finished on time and within your budget. USA Decom offers a turnkey solution to shut down your facility and is truly your one-stop shop for site decommissioning projects. For more information, contact us today to discuss your project and schedule a time for someone on our team to come out for a site visit.

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