3 Cleaning Tips to Optimize Your Data Center Operations

Is your data center looking a little dirty? If you have racks of servers and loose drives piled up, your messy environment may be putting you at risk. In addition, if you aren’t following data hygiene and compliance guidelines, it may be time for a best practice “clean-up.” Read the following blog for tips on how to achieve these goals, while improving your data center operations.

As Executive Vice President, Products and Technology, Russ Ernst is responsible for defining, driving and executing the product strategy across both the data erasure and mobile diagnostics product suites. Most recently, Russ was Director of Product Management for Lumension, where he was instrumental in expanding the platforms and applications supported for vulnerability remediation content. He often speaks on our webinars about data management and data erasure.

Who knew that data centers could be so dirty? While most data center stock photos show us images of clean, pristine environments with neat rows of servers and tight clusters of wires, not every data center looks so spotless. And we’re not talking about scrubbing the floors. Instead, we’re focusing on a different kind of clean: three types, to be exact. First, you must clean up your data center’s physical space. Second, you should clean up your data hygiene strategy and ensure you’re following best practices. Finally, you should consider cleaning up your compliance practices to optimize your data center operations.

cleandatacenter
The ideal data center looks something like this.

Clean Up Your Physical Space

Old IT assets don’t die; they pile up. Perhaps you’ve seen or heard about “e-waste/electronic graveyards.” They’re typically mass dumping grounds in developing countries where IT assets such as desktops, laptops and other electronics pile up.
ewastegraveyard

If your data center is starting to look like one of these e-waste dumping grounds, it may be time to put some more efficient decommissioning processes in place for your servers, loose drives and other IT assets.

When Should Servers be Decommissioned?
– When they are no longer being used
– When they have passed their useful life- When they are leased and must be returned to the manufacturer
-When they’re part of a data center consolidation project

pilesofservers
If your data center storage looks like this, you may be in trouble.

When decommissioning servers, it’s best practice to use software-based data erasure to completely wipe those servers before they are shipped to an ITAD for physical destruction or returned to the manufacturer.

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Loose Drives 

In data centers, storage drives are purchased and deployed to store data for a certain length of time and then removed from servers to be retired, reused or destroyed. To reuse or resell these drives when they reach end-of-life, they must be securely and permanently erased. Erasing helps organizations achieve residual value for their drives, while physical destruction destroys the drives forever so that they can never be reused.

Cleaning up your stockpile of servers and drives doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Learn how Blancco helped one company erase close to 900 servers overnight with our remotely-controlled, simultaneous erasure process.

Clean Up Your Data Hygiene Practices

Second, you should be following data hygiene best practices to keep your data center “clean.” By following data hygiene best practices, organizations can effectively manage ‘where’ their data is throughout its lifecycle (from creation, storage and use to sharing, archiving and destruction) and reduce the amount of data they store by successfully destroying it (when applicable) to reduce risk. The International Data Sanitization Consortium defines data hygiene as “the process of ensuring all incorrect, duplicate or unused data is properly classified and migrated into the appropriate lifecycle stage for storage, archival or destruction on an ongoing basis through automated policy enforcement.”

Data Hygiene Best Practices

  1. Locating all the data you have across all your IT assets.
  2. Classifying your current data into business-critical (need it now), necessary for compliance (need it later) or unnecessary (redundant, trivial or obsolete).
  3. Building a program to encourage ongoing data classification across the organization. Track and classify data throughout its lifecycle.
  4. Securely erasing the data you don’t need throughout its active lifecycle with data erasure—as well as erasing data at end-of-life.
Related Article:  Drive Destruction vs. Data Erasure: Which Data Disposal Method is Most Secure?

Following data hygiene best practices in your enterprise data center can help you reduce the amount of data you need to manage, freeing up resources.

Clean Up Your Compliance

In addition to cleaning up your physical space and your data hygiene policies, it’s also important to clean up your compliance. Most enterprise data centers, are required to keep very strict records of their servers. These records allow them to prove compliance when government agencies or industry auditors come calling. When a server is brought online or taken offline, the process must be documented with commissioning and decommissioning reports. In addition, data centers must also ensure their data management practices comply with many government and industry regulations.

Do you need to clean up your compliance practices? If you aren’t following specific data retention guidelines, complying with current and upcoming government regulations such as the European Data Protection Regulation, and following industry standards such as HIPPA, PCI DSS, etc., the answer is likely yes.

Learn about how Blancco can help with these and other solutions to improve your data center operations and guarantee compliance. Click here to get started.

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