3 Cleaning Tips to Optimize Your Data Center Operations

Mar 14, 2018 Blog Article

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.

Russ Ernst, Blancco VP of Products & Technology

Russ Ernst As Blancco CTO, Russ drives product strategy and execution across our Blancco solutions suite. At IT and data security industry conferences, he addresses data lifecycle management, end-of-life IT management, and data sanitization best practices. He also covers how organizations can reach their sustainability goals and fuel the circular economy through secure disposal processes. In addition to the Blancco website, you'll find his insights in Recycling Today, Security Boulevard, Data Center Knowledge, Business Insider, and The Fast Mode, as well as in the upcoming book, Net Zeros and Ones: How Data Erasure Promotes Sustainability, Privacy, and Security.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 4000 servers simultaneously 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.

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 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and following industry standards such as HIPAA, 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. Visit our page on Blancco Data Center Solutions for more information.