We have looked at migrating to a data centre while keeping downtime to a minimum. Now we will consider what you do with the old hardware and infrastructure that you are left with after completing the migration.

Dealing with your old infrastructure there are four main options you will be faced with:

  1. Sell the hardware on the second hand market
  2. Dispose of the hardware
  3. Reuse the hardware as a scaled down backup of your new infrastructure
  4. Repurpose the hardware as a lab or development environment

Sell the hardware on the second hand market
This is the first option that most people will consider when they’ve migrated from a hardware platform.

By selling off the hardware, either privately or to a refurbishment company, you will at least realise some value that can be put against the cost of your new hardware platform.
If you are going to sell the equipment, make sure you go through a proper asset disposal process as you don’t want your sensitive company or client data being found on the hard drives.

You can do this either by destroying the drives or wiping them to the DoD (US Department of Defence) standard 5220.22-M which will write over your existing data three times with zeros, ones and a random character to ensure that none of the original data can be restored. This is a recognised standard and the minimum I’d recommend for any data erasure.

Dispose of the hardware
If your hardware is over five years old, or simply isn’t fit for purpose either as a backup, a disaster recovery environment or a development platform, and you can’t get a reasonable sale price for it, then you can just get rid of it through a registered disposal company. In the UK this must be a company compliant with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive.

Again, as with selling hardware, you need to ensure your data is securely wiped first.

Reuse the hardware as a scaled down backup of your new infrastructure
The more interesting option for your old kit is to use it as a backup to your new infrastructure that has been put into the data centre.

It’s likely that you migrated from the hardware as it didn’t have enough capacity to scale with the future growth of your applications. However, it is probably still meaty enough to run these applications, just not at the full speed of your new ‘production’ infrastructure.

Reusing old devices and platforms is a cost effective disaster recovery solution for a minimal outlay (especially if the hardware is under three years old and you’re still recovering the cost of investment).

Having your applications and websites online, even if they are running slower than usual, is far better than having them all offline for any period of time!

You can replicate the data through a VPN over the internet, or through a dedicated point-to-point connection (the latter is better for speed and reliability). This could be combined with any connectivity you’ve put in between your offices and the data centre, or even between two separate data centres if you don’t have the space to keep the hardware in your offices.

Repurpose the hardware as a lab or development environment
The last main option is to use it as a lab or development/testing environment for your applications
If you need some extra servers, but not necessarily performance, then you have options for virtualising the old hardware and running virtual machines (probably 2 - 4 VMs per physical server, or more if they are particularly high specifications) using software such as XEN, Hyper-V or VMWare.

Having a development environment is almost a necessity if you are making regular changes to your applications or websites. It’s far better to break something in a testing area than it is to apply the change to a live website and then crash it in public (especially if you are running a high volume, transactional website where a few minutes downtime could cost thousands of pounds in lost revenue).

There are quite a few options for your old hardware. Personally I’d recommend trying to reuse it unless you either need to sell it to raise funds , or it’s simply too old to be useful.

Posted by David Barker, founder and technical director at green colocation and connectivity supplier, 4D Data Centres.
You can follow David on Twitter @David_4D or his company on @4DDataCentres.

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