Tuesday, 9 February 2010

How secure is secure? Pt. 2 - Building Security

We are continuing to look at the security of data centres and what it takes to be truly secure. After site selection, looking at the construction of a data centre is the next step in ensuring maximum possible security. The building construction and the location of entrances play a huge role in data centre security. From an environmental perspective, having windows in a data centre have a negative effect of the buildings insulation and from a security point of view, they provide a weaker point of entry into a facility. The entrances to a facility should be manned 24/7 to prevent any unauthorised access, but while many companies spend large amounts of money on man traps and biometrics to regulate entry through the front doors, often not as much care is taken over the back doors.

Fire exits should not have door furniture on the outside to prevent unauthorised entry and should be linked to an alarm at the security desk.
Controlling access into a data centre is often a gruelling activity for visitors and engineers who need to visit the facility on a regular occurrence. Ensuring that the correct procedures are followed to prevent unauthorised access maintains a secure data centre. Enforcing anti-tailback entry points with location monitoring allows security staff to record the number of personnel in the data centre and their positions as they move around it.

Migration Solutions are specialist Data Centre consultants with many years of expertise in both building and operating Data Centres. With this combined knowledge, they can advise you on the best security systems for your facility and help train your staff so that you can be as well protected as possible. For more information visit www.migrationsolutions.com or call 0845 251 2255 today.

How secure is secure? Pt. 1 - Site Location

How secure really is a 'secure' data centre? Data centres house the world's information, web pages, financial transactions and social networking. Every data centre needs appropriate levels security commensurate with the data they contain, what is enough security? When planning a new data centre installation, whether a refurbishment or a new build, it is imperative to look at the processes that will be running and the information held BEFORE thinking about trying to design the facility. Most data centre designers will concentrate on power and network resilience and then look at front of house security.

A secure data centre must first and foremost be in the right location. This is not necessarily in close proximity to, or within the head office as is so often the case. When choosing a secure site consideration must be given to resilience. What or who could interrupt service? Is the site on a flood plain, in an area prone to power outages, or in an area where the data centre's presence is, or will become common knowledge. Are there diverse feeds available and are they truly diverse?

What perimeter fencing to you plan to install and what would happen if someone tried to drive through it? Are there separate secure areas for employees and clients to enter and park? Are there any blind spots that a thief or hacker could utilise as cover for entry? Site selection is one of the most important contributing factors to the security of your data centre. If this isn't right security will be compromised from day one. And a final point, do you really need the name of your secure facility emblazoned on the side of the building, or come to that, on your access control cards?

Migration Solutions are vendor independent specialist Data Centre consultants with many years of expertise in designing, building and operating Data Centres. With this knowledge, Migration Solutions provide advice on best security for your facility and help train your staff making your facility as well protected as possible. For more information visit www.migrationsolutions.com or call 0845 251 2255 today.

Friday, 16 October 2009

LEED - Is it beneficial?

Increasing amounts of Data Centre operators in the United States are looking to get LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification on new Data Centre builds in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. There are obvious advantages to creating a more sustainable building which conserves and/or generates its own power, but are all the LEED checklist points beneficial to the building of a new facility?

23% of the LEED checklist refers to the site chosen for building construction. The checklist covers areas such as the reduction of impact on the land, rehabilitating biodiversity and minimizing the effects on water flows and runoff. Although many of these site-related points can be achieved, the nature of Data Centres generally require them to be located close to, or in, a major town so as to avoid the huge cost of re-routing power and sourcing data connectivity. Urban sites are often limited and developers often do not have the space or money convert 50% of the land to promote biodiversity which is one of the LEED requirements.

Conforming to other sections is easier. There are recommendations on taking logical steps to reduce carbon emissions. Building in minimum levels of energy use in new devices by design can realise significant power reduction.

A major section is to demonstrate that a building will be more efficient than a normal building, scored on a percentage improvement on an incremental scale. It encourages improvements at every stage of the build to encourage the highest scores. The more efficient the building materials used, the more efficient the building will be.

A relatively small maximum score (6.3%) is awarded for the production of on-site renewable energy, which appears to recognise the fact that it is not feasible to produce off-grid energy in large quantities at this point in time. They also give points for sourcing grid power from a green source. Most electricity providers now supply, for a premium, energy produced sustainably using wind, wave, hydro and solar. Crucially, LEED promote building power metering - essential for a well run Data Centre. Only by monitoring and logging energy use can it be properly assessed. This provides the basic tool to make informed changes to reduce energy use.

So to answer the original question 'Is LEED beneficial to new Data entre construction?' the answer is.....it depends! The benefit of LEED accreditation must be balanced with return on investment. Many of the criteria for LEED compliance are industry best practice and should be followed as they will result in lower running costs. Other criteria may not be considered as essential, and with budgets being tight, this may mean that not enough points could be realised to obtain creditation.

There is also the issue of potential conflicts between LEED and meeting the requirements for a tiered facility, as defined by the Uptime Institute.

Companies will look at
a return on investment when designing a new Computer Room or Data Centre. The benefit of LEED accreditation has to be weighed against cost. LEED best practice should however, be followed where possible.

Migration Solutions is a specialist Data Centre consultancy focused on improving data centre and computer room design. Migration Solutions is an active member of The Green Grid, the only UK accredited RIBA CPD Network Provider for data centre design and endorsers of the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres. For more information visit www.migrationsolutions.com or call 0845 251 2255.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Power saving V's Facility relocation

Power costs in the UK are on the rise, you don't need to be told that. Everyone is feeling the pinch, none more so than the Data Centre industry. Businesses are tightening their belts and reducing staff levels in order to cut costs and stay in business. Data Centre and Computer Room managers are constantly trying to increase efficiency and reduce costs so that they can be competitive in a growing market.

The Invest in Iceland Agency appear to have the answer to everyone's problems. Cheap green power, multi feed connectivity, low building costs and a skilled workforce. It appears to be a no brainer! Power in Iceland costs around 2.1p kW/h for heavy industry where the cheapest rates in the United States are 3.1p and 10.2p in the UK. One of the biggest drains of power in Data Centres is cooling using around 40% of the total power. Fresh air cooling in Iceland solves this problem with the annual temperature not rising above 13ÂșC.

So why is everyone not building Data Centres in Iceland? There is a misconception that latency to Iceland is a hurdle that companies cannot afford to jump. In reality, latency from London to Iceland is half that of London to New York. A more worrying problem is the geomorphology of Iceland. Iceland is geologically, a very young island which has, depending on sources, 18-22 active volcanoes. This would pose a large threat to Data Centres across the island, although the nearest is over 50 miles from the capital, Reykjavik. Earthquakes could also be considered a major problem with Iceland, although they have only recorded 2 major tremors in the past 10 years, compared with Japan which has had more than 10 in the same period. Also, what happens if one of your servers breaks down? Iceland is 2½ hours flight away, not including travelling to and from the airports and getting through security.

So should you relocate to Iceland? It will vary between businesses whether the cost savings are worth the amount of potential downtime from natural events, but if you can, it could be a perfect location for you.

Migration Solutions are a Data Centre consultancy who specialise in Computer Room and Data Centre migration. For more information visit www.migrationsolutions.com or call 0845 251 2255

Friday, 9 October 2009

Sun to run your Sun Servers?

This blog has looked at renewable energy for Data Centres and Computer Rooms before, but an increasing amount of information is surfacing that suggests that, without any further improvement, the payback on solar panels does not make it cost effective.

Toyota have an office in California which, since 2003 has relied on the sun for 20% of its power requirements. Now we all know California is a sunny place; it enjoys on average, 263 days of strong sunlight a year, but what is the payback of their installation?

Toyota have 54,000 sq ft of solar panels on their office in Torrance which are rated at 536 kW in total. Southern California has an insolation value of between 4-5.5 depending on the source. Taking the maximum figure, that each m2 of solar panels generates 550 watts per day, we can presume that their panels generate £331 of equivalent grid power every day, or £120,810 a year. The solar panels cost Toyota $3 million, half of which was paid by the government in tax credits. Ignoring the tax credits as they vary from country to country, and including the need to replace the inverters every 12½ years (at a $240,000 cost!) payback on these panels would be 17¼ years, and after that they would save Toyota £108,785 a year off a £543,925 electricity bill, or around 20%.

What relevance is this to the UK I hear you scream? The same set-up in the London would take 157 years! By this time, the technology would become defunct and replaced by more efficient systems. For now I think we are safe using mains power until a more efficient method of power generation can be found!

Migration Solutions are a specialist Data Centre consultancy who are fiercely vendor independent. They created ERA, and Environmental Report and Assessment to take a snap shot of a facility and suggest ways to improve its efficiency and save on running costs. Information Age presented Migration Solutions with the 'Data Centre Innovation' award for this product. For more information visit www.migrationsolutions.com or call 0845 251 2255

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Free Cooling Calculation

Free cooling has been around for a significant amount of time and many data centre managers are choosing to, at the end of its practical life, replace their current cooling plant with equipment that takes advantage of free cooling technologies. In smaller data centres where IT is a support tool and not the core business, data centre managers often find it difficult to persuade the people who hold the purse strings that it is better to spend a little more money now and make large savings down the line.

The Green Grid, campaigners for more efficient data centres, have developed a tool to help data centre managers to justify the extra capex when replacing the cooling plant. Their calculator 'The Free Cooling Tool' takes into account your data centres country, location within that country and all of your cooling and power use thresholds and combines this information with the cost of power to estimate the savings possible from replacing your current equipment with a free cooling type.

With this tool, the Green Grid hope to assist the world in making data centres as green as possible and to reduce their global carbon footprint. The net result is that you can help save your company money, while saving the environment and improving your facility.

Migration Solutions are specialist data centre consultants and members of the Green Grid. Being vendor independent allows them recommend free cooling equipment that will not only be the best available on the market, but best for you and your data centre or computer room. For more information visit www.migrationsolutions.com

Monday, 17 August 2009

Box in Box in Box

Cardboard, bubblewrap, parcel tape, foam padding, plastic strapping. In IT there is excessive packaging with every item purchased. A keyboard will come in 3 boxes covered in tape and surrounded by foam. The Register recently reported about a delivery of a standard PS2 Mouse to a reader from HP which was the only item strapped to a pallet. Excessive? I think so! They also reported another reader's delivery from HP of 32 pages of information. Each 2 sheets was wrapped in foam and enclosed in its own box. These 16 boxes in turn were in a larger box. Is it all really necessary??

There is a serious point to be made though. 6-10% of all IT equipment failures in Data Centres are solely caused by dust. Cardboard dust is the worst dust as it is very fine. It gets sucked into servers by the fans where it settles. This makes the fans work harder to cool the equipment as the dust reduces airflows and the fans create more heat as a result. The cooling plant must cool a higher temperature driving up power costs.

Many facilities have dedicated de-box rooms so that cardboard never enters the operational floor, but 90% of these rooms are ignored and people unpack equipment in the facility and use any spare space for storage. A number of facilities that Migration Solutions has visited has had boxes, clothes, furniture and food on the live floor to name a few! The design of a facility makes it easier for staff to keep to tidy habits and maintain a clean environment, but it is up to the Data Centre Manager to ensure that these standards are adhered to by the entire workforce. A well run facility will as a result be a clean and efficient facility.

Migration Solutions created ERA, an environmental report and assessment to look at Data Centres and Computer Rooms and investigate what improvements could be made to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Cardboard dust cropped up on many ERAs that were undertaken which greatly effects the efficiency of a Data Centre. Over 150 points are assessed in an ERA which provide Data Centre Managers a great incite into the health of their facility, and a selection of free, small cost and large cost suggestion on how to improve efficiency and save money. For more information vist www.migrationsolutions.com