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Wrong site info jeopardizes decom deadline

The Client

In an unusual partnership, two VAR and ITAD companies work together to supply IT hardware, IT services and end of life solutions including repairs, remarketing and redeployment to the world’s largest private and public companies Both resellers are exceptionally demanding and process-oriented on behalf of their clients’ data security and IT inventory. The end user is the leading global provider of business decision data and analytics. Accuracy and security are paramount for all stakeholders including the colocation data center.

Guardian Services

  • Comparison audit in rack order
  • Storage cage audit
  • Decommissioning / Deracking (racks stayed)
  • White glove packing
  • Secure, temperature controlled, dedicated truckload
  • Onsite data destruction
  • EOL packing
  • Logistics
  • Recycling


  • Technology
  • Data center


  • Account Managers (ITAD and VAR)
  • Purchasing/Logistics Hardware Manager (end-user)
  • Data Center Manager
  • Services Operations (ITAD)

The Challenge

With a looming end-of-lease contract, the end user had two locations in an underground-access, urban colocation data center project that had to be securely cleared, sorted for value, packed accordingly and shipped to multiple destinations within a two-day period:

  1. eight racks in the live data center – comparison audit, data destruction, decommissioning
  2. secure storage cage – audit, evaluation, data destruction and disposition 

Once onsite, two key access problems were evident:  the colo had supplied incorrect truck bay measurements and no one had the combination to the locked storage cage.

Maintaining chain of custody with flexibility, communication and ingenuity

Data centers and corporate sites located in dense, urban areas have special challenges. For onsite data destruction we typically use a smaller truck that can fit into a tight subterranean entrance and scaled-down truck bay. For this project in Boston’s city center, the colo facility manager confirmed that the entrance was a standard height. Upon arrival, it was clearly smaller than reported.

The Guardian project management team immediately worked with the VAR, the ITAD and the end user to create a documented, secure, modified hard drive shredding process that did not compromise security and chain of custody. Or push back the immovable two-day deadline.

End of year? Out of time? COVID? No problem.

Fourth quarter is busy as contracts, projects and budgets end. In this case, the end user notified their VAR/ITAD partners in mid-December that they needed to be out of their colo facility by the end of the year. Guardian managed to add the project to the last two days of the year, ensuring that the client did not miss their vacancy deadline or compromise their data. This project also included white glove packing and shipping seven designated units to the end-user via secure, temperature-controlled, dedicated truck while the remainder was end-of-life packed and shipped to responsible recycling.

Creative, on-the-spot thinking from an experienced team.

Part of the work order was to thoroughly audit, clean out and destroy data for any equipment found in a locked cage within the data center. Unfortunately, no one had the combination to the lock. Working with the data center management team and the trio of client stakeholders, data center staff dropped into the cage from the top to open it.  With only a minor delay, creative thinking and the cage opened, the storage area was securely audited, destroyed and completely removed from the premises on time.

The Bottom Line

As with every data center decommissioning job, we know there will be surprises no matter how much we know ahead of time. We understood the needs of the clients and the end user and the Guardian’s experienced, onsite team was flexible, communicative and solution driven. High value equipment was successfully delivered to the end-user, all hard drives were shredded and all remaining equipment, peripherals, wire and shred were shipped for recycling.

As a result of this project’s success, Guardian was rapidly contracted for a similar but much larger job: same end-user, same VAR/ITAD partnership. Now in Austin, the project had double decommissioning and onsite data destruction of backup tapes, CDs, 2792 server hard drives, a mix of end-of-life and white glove packing and shipping/logistics. Were there challenges? Of course. Someone had forgotten to power the servers down before we arrived onsite. Were we prepared? Yes. Did the second project finish on time with completely happy clients? Yes.

The Details

There were many interesting twists and turns on this particular decommissioning project mostly dealing with access:  getting into the loading dock and getting into the secure storage cage. 

Timing was critical as everything had to be completed within a two-day timeframe so continuous client communication, out-of-the-box solutions based on experience were essential in ensuring compliance, security and the deadline. Another, smaller, challenge was a discrepancy in the comparison audit that was identified right away. Eventually, the end user determined that two missing firewalls had been pulled earlier but not documented by their own staff. Additional photo evidence and rapid communication with stakeholders resolved the stumbling block without compromising the project in any way. 

  • Comparison audit in rack order
    • 2 missing firewalls
    • 136 servers (storage, network, blade enclosures, blade servers)
  • Racks and PDUs remained onsite
  • Secure cage access and audit (38 devices)
  • Onsite data destruction
    • 1467 hard drives shredded –  pulled from servers
    • 73 hard drives shredded – loose
  • 7 network assets white glove packed and shipped to end user by secure, temperature controlled, dedicated truckload (redeployment/inventory)
  • End-of-life packing and shipping for recycling:
    • all hard drive shred
    • 6 pallets of assets
    • 3 pallets misc (cables, rails, etc.) 
  • Complete cage cleanout
  • Chain of custody & shipping documentation
    • ATFs (all shipments)
    • Video documentation of secure, tagged hard drive transfers & shredding
    • BOL
    • Certificates of Data Destruction
    • Certificates of Recycling

With Guardian Data Destruction, you'll never have to worry or second-guess.

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