Decommissioning a Data Center: What You Need to Know

decommissioning-of-electric-gearDecommissioning a data center is a complex and multi-faceted process that requires careful planning and execution. From identifying the equipment and systems that will be removed, to ensuring that all safety protocols and environmental regulations are followed, there are many steps that must be taken to ensure a successful outcome.

In this guide, we will walk you through the 23 steps required for successfully decommissioning a data center, including discussing the scope with the landlord, creating an equipment inventory, determining the value or credit of the equipment to be removed, and much more. By following these steps, you can ensure that your data center decommissioning process is completed efficiently and successfully, leaving the building that used to house your data center ready for its next phase of life.

  • Discuss scope with the landlord: The first step in decommissioning a data center is to discuss and get a general idea of the scope of the project with the landlord. Timing, the lease language and what the space will be used for later are all things to consider in this discussion.
  • Tour site (create equipment inventory and determine removal challenges): A site tour is conducted to create an equipment inventory and determine any removal challenges. This allows for a better understanding of the scope of the project and any potential issues that may arise during the decommissioning process. In addition, renovation tasks should also be determined – many of which relate directly to the equipment that will be removed.
  • Finalize scope with customer and landlord: Based on the information gathered during the site tour, the scope of the project is finalized with the client and landlord. This ensures that all parties have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, how it will be accomplished and within what timeframe.
  • Determine value/credit of equipment to be removed: This step involves assessing the value or credit of the equipment that will be removed. This is important for the client to know the financial aspect of the project.
  • Proposal accepted by client: Once the scope and value/credit of the project have been determined, a proposal is presented to the client. Once the client accepts the proposal, the decommissioning process can begin.
  • Electrically safe off all equipment: Before any equipment can be removed, it must be electrically safed off to ensure that the equipment is no longer live and poses no risk of electrical shock or fire. Our team will need power for tools and lighting. Sometimes we’ll tap into house panels, other times we will bring in a temporary generator.
  • Remove all refrigerant: Refrigerant must be removed from CRAC units and the related condensers before they can be removed from the data center. Refrigerant will then be disposed of properly does so it doesn’t harm the environment.
  • Remove diesel fuel: Diesel fuel must be removed from the generators before they can be removed from the data center. Diesel fuel can be resold for other industrial or farm use or it will be recycled.
  • Prepare generator for removal and shipping: Generators must be prepared for removal by disconnecting all electrical feeds, disconnecting the enclosure from the ground, and removing the exhaust. The level of preparation will depend on how the generator will be shipped. The larger units will be shipped in 4 pieces: belly fuel tank, engine and generator, enclosure, and exhaust.
  • Remove all servers, network equipment from server racks: All servers and network equipment must be removed from the server racks before the racks can be removed. After removal from racks, the equipment is inventoried, palletized and shipped to a secure location to be processed and sold or recycled. All data will be wiped or the hard drives will be destroyed.
  • Buy-Sell-Enclosed-Server-Rack-Remove all server racks: Once all servers and network equipment have been removed, the server racks can be removed. Server racks are either sold for reuse at another data center or recycled.
  • Remove PDUs: All PDUs (Power Distribution Units) are disconnected and removed from the raised floor. PDUs are usually sold but sometimes, if too old, they are recycled.
  • Remove CRAC units: All CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioning) units must be removed from the data center. CRAC units, especially Liebert CRAC units, are often sold to be redeployed in another data center. If the CRAC units are 10 years old or older, they will be disassembled and recycled.
  • Remove CRAC ducting: All CRAC ducting is removed at this time. Ducting is usually recycled for its metal value.
  • Remove raised floor: Raised floor can be made of concrete, wood or hollow metal and is usually topped with VCT vinyl flooring. If the flooring is concrete and in excellent condition, it can often be resold. In addition to the flooring tiles, the pedestals and crossmembers are also removed and sold or recycled.
  • Remove electrical equipment: All electrical equipment including switchgear and transformers must be removed from the data center. This is done to ensure that the equipment can be reused or disposed of properly.
  • Remove piping: All piping and electrical feeds connecting the CRAC units to the roof condensers or the building chilled water supply must be removed. This piping and conduit is recycled.
  • Crane: A crane will be brought onsite to facilitate the removal of large equipment or equipment on the roof: condensers, generators and large transformers.
    a) Remove Condensers: The crane will be used to remove the condensers from the exterior of the data center, whether they are located on the roof or ground.
    b) Remove and load generator(s): The crane will also be used to remove and load the generators onto a truck for safe disposal or repurposing.
  • surplus-liebert-condenser-decommissionRepair roof as required: Any damage to the roof of the data center caused by the removal of condensers or other equipment will need to be repaired. Sometimes the legs of the condensers are put on curbs. If the landlord requires these curbs to be removed, a roofing contractor should be employed to manage this repair.
  • Remove all electrical conduit and copper feeds: All electrical conduit and copper feeds that were under the floor must be decommissioned from the data center. We follow all conduit throughout the facility – exposed from removing the floor, in the ceiling, through walls, etc.
  • Perform all required building renovation: After the removal of all equipment and systems, the data center will be renovated as necessary: repairs to drywall, painting, and floor and ceiling repairs will all be completed.
  • Cleaning: The data center will be thoroughly cleaned by sweeping all debris and dust to ensure that the site is ready for the next step of the process. This last step before the walk-through will make the site ready to be inspected by you and the landlord.
  • Final walk-through client and/or landlord: A final walk-through of the data center will be conducted with the client and/or landlord to ensure that all tasks have been completed to their satisfaction and that the data center is ready for its next use.

USA Decom is a leading provider of data center decommissioning services. We have a team of experienced professionals who have the expertise and skills to handle all of the tasks listed above, as well as a commitment to safety, compliance, and quality. We have experience working with a wide range of clients and industries, and are dedicated to providing the best possible service at all times. With USA Decom, you can trust that your data center decommissioning project will be done safely, efficiently, and within budget. Contact one of our team members to discuss your upcoming project.

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