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Secure data erasure and recycling

In partnership with CHG-MERIDIAN, our clients can benefit from services related to decommissioning and disposal of existing servers and storage equipment. If required by the individual company’s security policy, the secure erasure can be performed on-site without leaving the data hall. Here is a case story based on one of our clients’ needs: 

The starting point for this assignment was an inquiry from one of our clients. They needed secure decommissioning of data on-site. Recently, they had decided to implement a new storage solution. Consequently, the existing supplier wanted the old equipment in return. One of the safety requirements in the contract was to erase all data on the equipment completely before return. This meant that no rack or disk shelves could leave the premises without all data being securely erased. The equipment was going to be reused. Therefore, it had to be erased according to the principles of green IT as well as strict security requirements.

Client’s specisfications of the assignment: 

  • Three EMC V-MAX units in two locations
  • 1,400 disks in each storage solution – a total of approx. 4,200 disks
  • A mix of SATA and SAS disks
  • A mix of spin disks and SSDs
  • Disk shelves of different generations with different configuration interfaces
  • Perform decommission during normal working hours inside the data centre

Significant price differences

Both the equipment supplier and CHG-MERIDIAN gave the client a quote on the assignment. Suprisingly, the offer  received of on-site erasure from the supplier was 7 times higher than the offer from CHG-MERIDIAN. Even after a second quote by the equipment supplier there was a significant different in price.
Project manager, Jan Thore Johnsen from CHG-MERIDIAN, thinks he knows the reason behind this difference:  “I guess the main reason for the price difference concerns the staffing. The equipment supplier suggested to use their own personell for the on-site erasure job. In contrast, we suggested to teach the regular on-site staff how to perform the task. Making them self-sufficient throughout the whole process”

Jan Thore Johnsen from CHG-MERIDIAN - On-site erasure
Project manager, Jan Thore Johnsen from CHG-MERIDIAN. Photo: CHG-MERIDIAN

The process of an on-site erasure job

CHG-MERIDIAN was awarded the project and they estimated a few days of work at both the  DC2  and DC1 facility.  This turned out to be relatively close to the actual time consumption.

On-site erasure process:

  1. On-site  review of the scope per location, time frames and work tasks.
  2. Professional training of existing personnel at Rjukan and Rennesøy
    1. Configuring devices
    2. Get an overview of different connection options for the disk shelves
    3. Review on how to retrieve the erasure certificates for later use
  3. Executing the erasure processes together with local personnel
    1. Identification and marking of devices that could not be deleted or failed during deletion
    2. Establishing procedure on how to handle failed or unidentifiable disks
  4. Instruct how to pack the equipment safely
  5. Share information regardig the Helpdesk and SLA

Efficient and secure set-up

For this project, CHG-MERIDIAN chose the Blancco Array Server erasure tool. This tool is designed for efficient and secure decommission on large storage solutions. With the tool, you can delete about 100 disks per. job. The transfer rate is up to 150 Mega Bytes per second, per disk. As a result, it took less than 4 hours to complete the erasure process on 100 disks.
“With a smart setup of the erasure process, you can connect several hundred disks and divide the jobs into smaller sub-jobs. Blancco keeps track of the queue of disks to be erased. This part of the job can be done without the supervision of personnel. Consequently, they can leave the data center until the job is completed. The tool notifies you of the remaining time before the connected disks are erased. This allows your own personnel to perform other tasks that take place during normal operation.” Johnsen explains.
Runar Espeland, Service Management Team Lead at Green Mountain, is also excited about this new service. “We can offer this service to all of our clients now. They can choose to use their own personnel or request assistance from Green Mountain to perform the erasure process”.

Runar Espeland
Runar Espeland, Service Management Team Lead at Green Mountain

Both completely secure and very green

In terms of security, Blancco meets strict security requirements. Moreover, they have a broad portfolio of different solutions for various interfaces. In fact, the erasure tool from Blancco is certified by the National Security Authority (NSM) at the security level “Confidential”. Furthermore, the tool creates an erasure certificate per individual disk. A solid documentation according to GDPR requirements.
“We are very proud that we can bring these solutions into Green Mountain’s data centers. Firstly, this goes hand-in-hand with our goal of offering the absolute highest level of security. Secondly, we are lowering the cost of decommissioning. ” says Johnsen
The circular economy encourages reuse and proper recycling. With software erasure methods, the equipment gets a “second life”.
“Our clients are increasingly looking for sustainable solutions to improve the environmental footprint of their IT infrastructure. Demand for green end-of-lifecycle services, in particular, is growing. This new solution is the perfect addition to our portfolio of green IT services.” Espeland adds.

On-site erasure with Blancco Array
Secure on-site erasure with Blancco Array Server erasure tool. Photo: CHG-MERIDIAN