12 Aug 2014
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Physical security as a competitive advantage

Physical security matters for data centres. Schneider Electric IT Business' Simon Smith outlines how it can also become a competitve advantage. 

When devising a security strategy for data centres, it’s important to remember that data centres are also buildings, or compartments within buildings. As with any structure used for business,

some level of building security should be provided.

For a basic office building, the security system might be as simple as access control for the doors and locks so that only employees with the proper swipe cards or codes can enter.

Other buildings also make use of video surveillance technology such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems.

Where do most data centres fall on the continuum of buildings needing security? The building security need for an average data centre is higher than the typical office space, but less stringent than what is needed at an international airport, for example.

For data centres that store sensitive credit card information or personal identification numbers, the need for building security can be very high.

Common architecture, cost-effective integration

Data centre professionals who are contemplating security improvements need to consider two factors:

  • The level of system integration needed
  • The degree to which security impacts their business
Building security systems have evolved to become more like enterprise-level IT systems, with underlying databases, graphical user interfaces, and the ability to generate performance reports or handle queries.

Since data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) software is often used to optimise data centre operations, the potential for cost-effective integration between security and DCIM systems is high. Access alarm records from security systems can be fed to the DCIM system, for instance, into a dashboard tracking data centre performance.

The impact of security on your business is also important to consider when contemplating integration.

A modest office building with only a small wiring closet requires little integration beyond simple access control. Larger data centres like those that rent space to e-tailers and others tout rock solid security as an important aspect of their competitive advantage.

When protecting essential information it’s important to remember, as we said earlier, that data centres are also buildings, or compartments within buildings.

The physical protection of the infrastructure housing the data can often be underestimated. As a result it’s important to consider the level of system integration needed, and also the degree to which security impacts their business.

Simon Smith is regional manager for Schneider Electric IT Business, which offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including data centres and networks.

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