Unified operations centers

Jeffrey Woodward and Mark Naese of Panduit have deployed an innovative UOC at its world headquarters facility


"It makes sense to co-locate the security, safety, network and communications operations functions, as there are many situations - emergency and non-emergency - that warrant close coordination and information sharing," explains Marc Naese, Panduit's Director of IT Infrastructure and Operations. Thus, the SOC and NOC functions were combined into a single operations room, with a door to the adjacent EOC room.

James Connor, CEO of security technology and operations consultancy N2N Secure (www.N2NSecure.com), worked with Panduit to help qualify technologies for deployment in the new facility and as the lead consultant for the design of the security systems and new security operations model. "We know that information technology and physical security technology are both advancing very rapidly," Connor says. "Operations center design is now very different than in previous years. Technology infrastructure has to take into account the arrival of new products and system capabilities every year. The fast pace of organizational change also requires flexibility in the deployment of network and security technologies."

The functions of an operations center room no longer need to be filled with purpose-built "ops center" equipment. Information and control functions are "electronicized" through information systems and network technologies, enabling computer workstations and video displays to provide a wide variety of human interaction, as seen in Figure 1 (above).

Design Approach

With IP-based monitoring, information, communications and control systems in place in facilities, a multi-function operations center can provide monitoring, coordination, evaluation and response functions based on how the center is staffed and how intelligent rules-based systems are deployed to support detection, evaluation, response and escalation. When a maintenance operator logs onto a workstation, maintenance applications and functions can be called up automatically. Some stations can be dedicated to a specific function simply by staff assignment. Other workstations can provide ad hoc functions based on situational needs. With this kind of flexibility, where does design start and where does it end?

"Vision and executive sponsorship, and C-suite buy-in, were very important to us at the earliest stage of conception," Woodward says. The operations center initiative was a part of Panduit's larger "Connected Building Team," the concept team for the project. "Basically, everyone within Panduit had a stake in what that building was going to be and how it would operate. Alignment with corporate governance and regulatory requirements was important."

"We also asked, 'What do you want to have happen when someone accesses the building?' That could mean turning on lighting in your office, air conditioning and your VoIP phone and network data port. We identified the ROI in each case, and related things back to risk management. This helped us make very acceptable business cases."

Another example of accounting for stakeholder interests is the establishment of service level agreements (SLAs) between Security and stakeholder groups. For example, an SLA regarding security video data would specify the length of retention for recorded video data, as well as the procedure for data destruction, and would also address access to data.

Pilot projects were used to evaluate technology. Evaluation criteria included business values beyond security, such as partnership and marketing value. For example, Cisco is a very strong business partner with Panduit, so whether or not a security product carried the Cisco brand was an evaluation factor.

Woodward also discusses the strategic elements of the vision: World-class facilities, innovation, collaboration and sustainability. "Our corporate vision includes providing world-class facilities for our employees. Innovation is a key strategy for our company and for many companies, as is having collaborative environments that help foster it," he says. "Panduit facilities are designed to reduce their environmental impact, and so our building initiatives had to reflect that."

Decision Methodology

Panduit defined a decision making process, to ensure that stakeholder interests were fairly represented. Figure 2 (page 22) shows the decision methodology developed by Intelligent Buildings Inc. (www.IntelligentBuildings.com) included in that process and used to evaluate elements of the building initiative, including security technology.