data center migration data destructionWhen a company chooses to move its applications to the cloud or consolidate a data center using virtualization and the latest energy-efficient server technology, the equipment previously used at the data center for storage and networking usually retired. What becomes of these retired IT assets? Hopefully, they’re recycled or resold. New technology and cloud services are increasingly popular ways for companies to lower the costs and the work required to manage IT systems and software, but most companies aren’t making the move haphazardly. They’re looking closely at the risks in the migration process. One source of risk that can’t be ignored is the sensitive data stored in the drives and tapes of those soon-to-be decommissioned data center assets.

Three ways to prevent a data breach

A data breach occurs when an organization allows sensitive information into the wrong hands. This can be disastrous for an organization. It can hurt it financially; damage its reputation with customers, potential customers, and the general public; and threaten its compliance status with industry regulations (which could lead to having to pay costly fines). To minimize the risk of such a harmful breach when planning a data center migration, the data stored on retired assets must be accounted for and destroyed before the IT asset disposition process is complete.

If you are involved with planning for a data center move or consolidation or a cloud migration at your organization, you have three options to secure the data on your retired equipment. For maximum security at the minimum cost, the method must be chosen carefully:

  1. Destruction. Destruction involves physically altering a drive or tape so that no data can be recovered. Certified ITAD service providers perform drive destruction using shredding or crushing equipment that meets industry standards. The destroyed material must then be disposed of in compliance with environmental regulations.
  2. Degaussing. Degaussing uses a strong set of magnetic fields to ensure all data on the drive or tape is destroyed. With degaussing there is no visible evidence that the data has been destroyed, but magnetic hard drives that are properly degaussed will no longer function in a device. Some tapes can be reused after degaussing, however.
  3. Sanitization. Data sanitization is the process through which the data on a hard drive or tape is overwritten with other data (wiped) to the point where the original data is completely gone. For modern magnetic hard drives, this can reliably be accomplished in one pass with the right process and certified software tools. Using a certified process and software tools ensures data security and enables reuse or resale of the hard drives.

Which data destruction method is most effective?

Some organizations as a matter of policy choose physical drive destruction for all their retired IT equipment. However, the difference in resale value between systems with hard drives and those without can be up to 30 percent. Proper planning is necessary here, too, taking into account market trends for used IT equipment. Your ITAD partner should be able to help you make the right decision. Drives and some tapes from storage systems have resale value on their own. All the major standards organizations in the U.S. and Europe accept proper data erasure as equal to the physical destruction of drives.

How can you be sure your ITAD partner does data security the right way?

A certified partner can perform data sanitization in compliance with the latest industry standards. One of the most trusted industry certification for data sanitization is AAA certification from the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). The National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) provides the only third-party certification that focuses exclusively on information security.

A data center migration plan that reduces risk

There are a lot of factors to plan for to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud or a data center migration that causes little or no interruption to business operations.  Our guide, “Cloud Migration, Data Center Consolidation, and IT Asset Disposition,” includes in-depth discussions of six IT asset disposition (ITAD) concerns connected to a data center migration and industry best practices for responding to them. Download it using the image below.