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A global survey of 600 data center professionals published by Blancco Technology Group, a provider of data erasure tools, suggests that there is a major opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs) to create a practice around helping IT organizations retire outdated IT equipment.

Conducted by the market research firm Coleman Parks, the survey finds two in five global organizations waste more than $100,000 a year by storing useless IT hardware. More than half of those organizations have been cited one to two times in the last 24 months for failing to comply with data protection laws.

Many of these organizations are trapped between two imperatives. On one hand, regulations clearly call for data to be removed from outdated equipment. On the other, many of these organizations fear that data stored on legacy disk drives will fall into the wrong hands during the disposal process.

To make matters worse, manufacturers of hard drives have made finding the time to navigate the return merchandise authorization (RMA) process exceedingly complex for the average internal IT team. About 80 percent of respondents admitted that at least a quarter of end-of-life drives sit uselessly idle in their data centers. Three quarters of organizations surveyed confessed that 25 percent of all drives eligible for RMA processing stored onsite were only there because the organizations are not willing to follow the required processes to return them to the manufacturer. In the U.S., 41 percent of respondents said that more than half of the drives stored onsite are “past-due” because they are unable or unwilling to return them to the manufacturer. A total of 71 percent of respondents in the U.S. said that the most effective way for them to improve their current RMA return process would be an ability to erase full racks of servers or multiple drives simultaneously.

Organizations surveyed continue to store a large portion of their data onsite, with 48 percent storing 31 to 60 percent of their data onsite, 42 percent storing 10 to 30 percent of their data onsite, and 10 percent of organizations storing over 60 percent of their data onsite.

Many are relying on multiple methods to sanitize their data. A full 62 percent of organizations surveyed are using free online tools with no verification or certification processes to erase data. Unsurprisingly, many organizations wind up failing simple data sanitization tests.

MSPs to the rescue

Given the fact that fines for mishandling data can be as high as $1.5 million in certain vertical industries, it’s clear there’s an opportunity for MSPs to create a practice around helping organizations retire equipment. After all, the cost of what amounts to an IT housecleaning service is going to be significantly less than any fine.

In fact, a service for sanitizing data for MSPs that are already in the data protection business represents an adjacent opportunity. The challenge isn’t so much mastering the technologies involved, bur rather setting up the repeatable processes needed to drive costs out of a much-needed IT function that no one else wants to perform.

Photo: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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