Maximise data centre uptime by unifying security systems

Maximise data centre uptime by unifying security systems

Nick Smith, Business Development Manager, Genetec, says physical security is often overlooked when it comes to avoiding downtime and he outlines the benefits of unified physical security platforms as a vital way of maxmising uptime.

Digital Transformation and our 24/7 reliance on connectivity are well documented reasons for the increase in the volume of data globally. However, less understood is the strain that this is placing on providers, or the multitude of challenges they face in maintaining uptime.

Looking beyond the technical causes of outages we must also consider the impact of the industry’s rapid growth on day-to-day operations. We are witnessing significant industry consolidation through mergers and acquisitions; evolving cyberthreats; and fast-changing regulatory mandates which acknowledge data centres as part of our critical national infrastructure. All of this means many facilities are now trying to work with a patchwork of different systems which in many cases were not designed to meet today’s requirements.

A cease in operations, caused by a physical or cyber breach, can cost millions in damage, loss of customer contracts and noncompliance fees. According to the Uptime Institute’s 2022 Outage Analysis, the consequences and cost of downtime are worsening, with 60% of failures now resulting in at least US$100,000 in total losses. It also found that when major outages happen, over 85% of the incidents stem from staff failing to follow procedures or from flaws in the processes themselves.

Data centre providers have a responsibility to cast their net as wide as possible to look for ways to prevent downtime, because downtime is a threat to all corners of the business. One often-overlooked area is physical security systems. Unifying video surveillance, access control, license plate recognition, intrusion detection and other systems on a single platform can centralise security, compliance activities and operations. This ensures incidents can more quickly be identified and resolved, maximising uptime and efficiency.

Integration is not unification

Some vendors might suggest that a software development kit (SDK) or an application programming interface (API) is the golden ticket to bringing separate physical security solutions together for simplified monitoring. However, integration in this sense is limited.

The goal of a security operator is not only access – it’s action. They might want to unlock a door where someone is having issues, for example, or trigger a call with an intercom to check why someone is trying to access a particular area. With an integrated system, data is not centralised, so to begin a response action, the users must still move between systems. Each time they move, they lose sight of one corner of their operation and the risk of making an error increases.

With a truly unified system, they wouldn’t lose sight of anything. The data from each system is embedded in a unified, centralised platform. Data is not only presented to users seamlessly as part of their day-to-day activities, but that information is filtered on the user’s terms to prioritise actionable events and any other events are dealt with using repeatable, automated operating procedures. At that point, information flows smoothly across the solution, optimising an operator’s attention and effort and minimising the risk of human error through automation.

Unification brings together all security system components seamlessly in a single software platform with one user interface in a way that can vastly improve physical security management. From there, the wealth of actionable business intelligence, harvested by making the once disparate physical security systems equal to more than the sum of their parts, can greatly enhance the data centre’s operations.

How unification can mitigate risks and unlock more efficient operations

Uptime is everything and it’s becoming more difficult and expensive to run and manage servers while mitigating cyberattacks and remaining compliant. Providers must secure a growing number of assets across multiple sites, stay ahead of threats and regulations and also share evidence with stakeholders to prove that they can trust the service you’re providing. Unified physical security platforms are a vital way of maxmising uptime and can help in a number of ways.

Maintain your server rooms’ temperature – Unify HVAC temperature sensors within your security platform can help you easily monitor and adhere to your data centre’s cooling requirements.

Digitise your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) – Respond to predefined events and incidents with standardised, easy to follow guidance that can be designed to stay compliant with different regulatory requirements.

Define access rights policies and compliance rules – Manage access into the data centre by credentials to clearly map out who can go where. These can be assigned according to the role, professional certifications, or contractors and visitors, with a complete recording for easy auditing.

Optimise evidence reporting –Save time by securely granting access to evidence at the click of a button. Ensure information is only shared with authorised individuals, inside or outside of the organisation.

Modernise security with IP access control – Use a modern, IP-based access control to manage intelligent key systems and biometrics. Better secure entrances and exits to restricted areas and easily manage employees, contractors and visitors without the risks associated with physical keys.

Extend perimeter security with ANPR – Keep track of vehicles on your premises in real-time with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology. Create lists of approved and suspicious vehicles to automatically grant access or alert security on arrival.

Maximise video coverage – Get a clear picture of incidents and empower your team to quickly react to threats. Leverage cloud video surveillance to extend coverage at remote sites.

Spot intruders before they enter your perimeter – Start to defend beyond the fence line with radar, LiDar, fence intrusion detection and video analytics to detect potential intruders and drones.

Juggling the competing priorities of physical and cybersecurity, compliance and quality of service is a challenge that data centre providers must overcome to maximise uptime. With a unified solution, one that centralises all aspects of security in one place, teams gain a holistic view across their operation. It leads to better informed decisions and eliminates risk. If you want to minimise downtime, then unification, not integration, will unlock the full potential of your existing investments and help you keep pace with a rapidly evolving industry.

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