data center data securityConsolidating a data center or moving to the cloud is a major project with countless pieces to consider to ensure success and minimize cost and risk. There are many benefits that make it worthwhile, of course. The latest servers and virtualization technology allow for more cost-effective, energy-efficient systems, while the cloud presents an increasingly-popular opportunity for greater flexibility and choice of architectures. The benefits are clear, but there is a lot of work that goes into ensuring that all systems and applications are migrated without interrupting business. For a smooth transition, detailed planning ahead of time is an absolute necessity. But, because of the amount of work involved and because the focus in these projects is usually the cost savings and the business applications, data security and destruction plans are often left until late in the project.

A lot of the recent industry news about cloud migration has focused on data security in the cloud, but what it overlooks is the security of the data stored on the hard drives and tapes of the equipment decommissioned or retired in such a project. This equipment is usually marked for redeployment, remarketing, or recycling. Allowing that data to leak could jeopardize your company’s regulatory compliance, leading to significant costs that could have been avoided. At the same time, like everything else in a data center project, data destruction activities must be completed within the budget and with a minimal amount of disruption. How can this be accomplished?

Know your company’s data retention policies

Review your company’s data retention policies and secure approval to destroy media and hard drives well ahead of the final steps of the overall project. Uncertainty about what to do with stored data on drives and tapes can impact costs and your ability to complete the data center project on time.

Take time and space requirements into account

If your company requires onsite physical destruction of data, be sure to have all the records and approvals you need to destroy the data, and allow for the time and the space for your certified data destruction vendor to do that.

Choose a data destruction method

Some companies choose the same data destruction method for every piece of equipment, but others understand that, for maximum ROI, one-size-fits-all isn’t always appropriate, especially if some of the equipment will be reused or resold (IT assets with functional hard drives are worth more on the resale market than those without). For maximum security at the minimum cost, the method must be chosen carefully. The options are:

  • Physical destruction. Certified ITAD (IT asset disposition) service providers perform physical drive destruction using equipment and procedures that meet industry standards. The destroyed material must then be disposed of in compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Degaussing. Some tapes can be reused after degaussing (using a strong set of magnetic fields to destroy data), but magnetic hard drives that are properly degaussed will no longer function.
  • Data sanitization. This is often the best choice if your company is hoping to remarket assets. Data sanitization is the process through which the data on a hard drive is overwritten with other data (wiped) to the point where the original data is completely gone. For modern drives, this can reliably be accomplished in one pass with the right process and certified software tools. Look for a data sanitization provider with AAA certification from the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID).

Find the right partner

Data destruction as part of a data center consolidation or cloud migration can be a hassle, but it need not be managed entirely by your team. Work with your certified data destruction partner as early in the data center change process as possible to develop a plan to be sure you have selected the right processes, the resources required are available, the work can be completed within the required timeframe, and that the plan will meet all company and industry requirements.

Download our free white paper, “Cloud Migration, Data Center Consolidation, and IT Asset Disposition” for a complete guide to the ITAD issues associated with a data center project and the best practices for responding to them.