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A more sustainable end-of-life for your legacy hardware appliances with Cloudflare and Iron Mountain


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A more sustainable end-of-life for your legacy hardware appliances with Cloudflare and Iron Mountain

Today, as part of Cloudflare’s Impact Week, we’re excited to announce an opportunity for Cloudflare customers to make it easier to decommission and dispose of their used hardware appliances sustainably. We’re partnering with Iron Mountain to offer preferred pricing and discounts for Cloudflare customers that recycle or remarket legacy hardware through its service.

Replacing legacy hardware with Cloudflare’s network

Cloudflare’s products enable customers to replace legacy hardware appliances with our global network. Connecting to our network enables access to firewall (including WAF and Network Firewalls, Intrusion Detection Systems, etc), DDoS mitigation, VPN replacement, WAN optimization, and other networking and security functions that were traditionally delivered in physical hardware. These are served from our network and delivered as a service. This creates a myriad of benefits for customers including stronger security, better performance, lower operational overhead, and none of the headaches of traditional hardware like capacity planning, maintenance, or upgrade cycles. It’s also better for the Earth: our multi-tenant SaaS approach means more efficiency and a lower carbon footprint to deliver those functions.

But what happens with all that hardware you no longer need to maintain after switching to Cloudflare?

The life of a hardware box

The life of a hardware box begins on the factory line at the manufacturer. These are then packaged, shipped and installed at the destination infrastructure where they provide processing power to run front-end products or services, and routing network traffic. Occasionally, if the hardware fails to operate, or its performance declines over time, it will get fixed or will be returned for replacement under the warranty.

When none of these options work, the hardware box is considered end-of-life and it “dies”. This hardware must be decommissioned by being disconnected from the network, and then physically removed from the data center for disposal.

The useful lifespan of hardware depends on the availability of newer generations of processors which help realize critical efficiency improvements around cost, performance, and power. In general, the industry standard of hardware decommissioning timeline is between three and six years after installation. There are additional benefits to refreshing these physical assets at the lower end of the hardware lifespan spectrum, keeping your infrastructure at optimal performance.

In the instance where the hardware still works, but is replaced by newer technologies, it would be such a waste to discard this gear. Instead, there could be recoverable value in this outdated hardware. And simply tossing unwanted hardware into the trash indiscriminately, which will eventually become part of the landfill, causes devastating consequences as these electronic devices contain hazardous materials like lithium, palladium, lead, copper and cobalt or mercury, and those could contaminate the environment. Below, we explain sustainable alternatives and cost-beneficial practices one can pursue to dispose of your infrastructure hardware.

Option 1: Remarket / Reuse

For hardware that still works, the most sustainable route is to sanitize it of data, refurbish, and resell it in the second-hand market at a depreciated cost. Some IT asset disposition firms would also repurpose used hardware to maximize its market value. For example, harvesting components from a device to build part of another product and selling that at a higher price. For working parts that have very little resale value, companies can also consider reusing them to build a spare parts inventory for replacing failed parts later in the data centers.

The benefits of remarket and reuse are many. It helps maximize a hardware’s return of investment by including any reclaimed value at end-of-life stage, offering financial benefits to the business. And it reduces discarded electronics, or e-waste and their harmful efforts on our environment, helping socially responsible organizations build a more sustainable business. Lastly, it provides alternatives to individuals and organizations that cannot afford to buy new IT equipment.

Option 2: Recycle

For used hardware that is not able to be remarketed, it is recommended to engage an asset disposition firm to professionally strip it of any valuable and recyclable materials, such as precious metal and plastic, before putting it up for physical destruction. Similar to remarketing, recycling also reduces environmental impact, and cuts down the amount of raw materials needed to manufacture new products.

A key factor in hardware recycling is a secure chain of custody. Meaning, a supplier has the right certification, preferably its own fleet and secure facilities to properly and securely process the equipment.

Option 3: Destroy

From a sustainable point of view, this route should only be used as a last resort. When hardware does not operate as it is intended to, and has no remarketed nor recycled value, an asset disposition supplier would remove all the asset tags and information from it in preparation for a physical destruction. Depending on disposal policies, some companies would choose to sanitize and destroy all the data bearing hardware, such as SSD or HDD, for security reasons.

To further maximize recycling value and reduce e-waste, it is recommended to keep security policy up to date on discarded IT equipment and explore the option of reusing working devices after a professional data wiping as much as possible.

At Cloudflare, we follow an industry-standard capital depreciation timeline, which culminates in recycling actions through the engagement of IT asset disposition partners including Iron Mountain. Through these partnerships, besides data bearing hardware which follows the security policy to be sanitized and destroyed, approximately 99% of the rest decommissioned IT equipment from Cloudflare is sold or recycled.

Partnering with Iron Mountain to make sustainable goals more accessible

Hardware discomission can be a burden on a business, from operational strain to complex processes, a lack of streamlined execution to the risk of a data breach. Our experience shows that partnering with an established firm like Iron Mountain who is specialized in IT asset disposition would help kick-start one's hardware recycling journey.

Iron Mountain has more than two decades of experience working with Hyperscale technology and data centers. A market leader in decommissioning, data security and remarketing capabilities. It has a wide footprint of facilities to support their customers’ sustainability goals globally.

Today, Iron Mountain has generated more than US$1.5 billion through value recovery and has been continually developing new ways to sell mass volumes of technology for their best use. Other than their end-to-end decommission offering, there are two additional value adding services that Iron Mountain provides to their customers that we find valuable. They offer a quarterly survey report which presents insights in the used market, and a sustainability report that measures the environmental impact based on total hardware processed with their customers.

Get started today

Get started today with Iron Mountain on your hardware recycling journey and sign up from here. After receiving the completed contact form, Iron Mountain will consult with you on the best solution possible. It has multiple programs to support including revenue share, fair market value, and guaranteed destruction with proper recycling. For example, when it comes to reselling used IT equipment, Iron Mountain would propose an appropriate revenue split, namely how much percentage of sold value will be shared with the customer, based on business needs. Iron Mountain's secure chain of custody with added solutions such as redeployment, equipment retrieval programs, and onsite destruction can ensure it can tailor the solution that works best for your company's security and environmental needs.

And in collaboration with Cloudflare, Iron Mountain offers additional two percent on your revenue share of the remarketed items and a five percent discount on the standard fees for other IT asset disposition services if you are new to Iron Mountain and choose to use these services via the link in this blog.

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Impact WeekCloudflare NetworkHardwareSustainability

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Annika Garbers|@annikagarbers

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