Data centers hit their stride

It's transition time, as change prevails

The data center is the nucleus of some 99 percent or more of the businesses out there. Central stations and calls centers and proprietary monitoring facilities are mini- or full-blown data centers in their own rights as information, security and vital data jumps on the network.

Data centers continue to grow in size and capacity, but recent trends point to a greening of these entities, with a focus on a smaller footprint, less power consumption, thermal management and more. Now, the emphasis is on making these entities more cost effective and efficient. Rapid change and the stress of high-density IT equipment can exact its toll on these cost centers. Migration paths and future proofing becomes critical in the move to reduced total cost of ownership.

One of the new buzzwords is virtualization and cloud computing, which may lessen the load on the data center and reduce its carbon footprint.

Security and data centers

There's a security side to data centers, besides information security. Security cameras are increasingly used to secure data centers and other changes are being made to tighten these facilities and protect their assets. SD&I magazine asked Karl Griffith, director, Enterprise Market for Graybar in St. Louis, for his take on the security side of data centers.

1. How are surveillance cameras being used in data centers?

"Physical security is important to the data center. Nearly every business has a data center. Data centers house the mission-critical data and technology services of businesses. Therefore, companies as well as the operators of data centers will go to great lengths to ensure their facilities are protected.

Cameras are typically used throughout a data center. Day/night and infrared cameras monitor the perimeter of a data center to help protect the entire building and all property entrances and exits. Inside the data center, the lobby and/or reception areas are also typically monitored by cameras. Identification is verified and pictures are stored in databases for future use if needed.

Also, cameras monitor all data center equipment including rows of servers, data storage and communications equipment. Some data centers are co-location facilities where multiple businesses house their data processing equipment in the same facility and share infrastructure. In these cases, tenants will monitor their own equipment remotely in addition to the cameras of the data center property owner and service provider."

2. What other security is in place in data centers?

"Access control is also critical in the data center. Most data centers employ smart proximity cards combined with a biometric component as well as hand geometry readers, fingerprint readers, eye scanners or various types of facial scanning. Large gates and guard huts are also in use. In many government-owned facilities or co-location data centers with government tenants, you will typically encounter armed guards. Various methods of perimeter security are also in use. Popular ones include buried fiber optic cable sensing, infrared, laser and fence vibration detection systems. Many times mission critical cabinets are equipped with individual access control systems to record and verify use.

Sometimes the least glamorous parts of the data center are the most critical for security monitoring and alarms. Power delivery systems from utility companies provide the power to keep the data center running. If the power goes out, the backup usually consists of large generators and diesel fuel tanks on the data center site. It is imperative these power systems are not compromised--if the power goes out, there goes the mission critical data."

3. How have UPS' changed to address new components and efficiencies and more?

"Cameras with on-board storage cards can be very important to a data center. Just imagine if there was a fire or explosion in a data center power delivery area. Yes this can happen. The camera is blown off the wall or ceiling along with its power source cable. The camera stops working, but the owner can review the stored video data to see exactly what happened moments before the explosion.

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