Why Should I Choose a Data Center? (Part 5 of 5)

By Randy GoodsonBlog

Physical Security & Protection

So…the weekend of the big scheduled maintenance comes around and you get to the office and start getting yourself mentally prepared for the day.  As if simply being away from your family for a beautiful Saturday isn’t enough, you walk into your “secure” computer room only to find an intern sleeping behind one of your racks. Your initial reaction is to scream, holler and kick him out.  But, you figure out that you may get some information out of him if you hold your temper.  After some teeth-gritting questioning, you find out that all the interns have been passing around an access card key they found more than six months ago.  There hasn’t been any issues arise because of their napping. No harm, ho foul, right? NOT!!!  This is a nightmare…not to mention an accident waiting to happen.  Data centers are no place for the untrained.  There are many thousands of dollars worth of equipment, some top-heavy racks and sensitive network components all over the place.  Oh…and don’t forget that just a few months ago, you successfully passed an audit certifying your data center as secure. Depending on the environment (banking, health care, intelligence, etc.) this breach could be devastating.  So…the only thing you can really do is to kill all of your access cards (you thought I was going to say interns, didn’t you?) and reissue new ones to only those who need access.  What a pain!

After this fiasco has been taken care of, you are now doing some of your maintenance, when you smell the unmistakable aroma of frying electrons.  Follow your nose…it always knows. You arrive at an old server with smoke billowing out of it.  Now what?  Am I ever going to be able to get to the reason I came?  It turns out that this server is so old that it actually caught fire.  I know…you would have decommissioned that server years ago; but there are some interns that have been using it for some reason or another and their manager wanted to keep it on hand. Interns…can’t live with them, can’t shoot them.  So, you remove power from it and pull it out of the mix.  The power supply fried in a bad way.  I know it doesn’t happen very often…but it does happen; I’ve seen it myself.  So…you finish cleaning up after the billowing smoke and get ready to start your maintenance, when it occurs to you that the fire suppression system didn’t go off like it should have. GREAT!!!  Why did that happen?  Now you have to investigate why it isn’t working properly.  Upon close inspection, you notice that the last time it was maintained was four years ago.  “Man…how did that slip my mind?”  Now you’ve got to get someone out there to fix it.  Do you wait until Monday, when it’s going to be cheaper, or do you pay weekend premium to get them out here today? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I’ll wait until Monday…I really need to get this maintenance done, now that an hour of my maintenance window is gone.  Wait a minute…what is that noise? Can it be? Yes…that’s the tornado siren.  What? The weather man didn’t predict severe storms today.  As you pull up the radar on your phone, you see that there is, indeed a tornado close by.  So, you head down into the basement of your building hoping that nothing goes wrong.  And, your wish is granted.  The tornado was a small one and disappeared without any issues.  But, your building took a direct hit from lightning and you are now on UPS because your generator didn’t kick on for whatever reason.  Can this day get any worse?  So, you trudge down the hill toward your generator getting soaked because it’s still raining. Whose idea was it to put the generator so far away, anyway?  Fortunately, when you get there, you are able to get it started right away. It’s a good thing that you just happened to be on site when the power went out.  After getting dried off a bit, in the freezing cold computer room, you make the dreaded phone call to the generator people, because you can’t go without that.  They’ll be there in four hours or less.  My experience is that they’ll be there in four hours.  Good thing you had plans to be at work all day on your day off.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to simply run in and do your maintenance without having to worry about people sleeping in your computer room, the fire system not working correctly, or losing power?  Wouldn’t it be great if somebody other than you worried about the security and protection of your data center?  Oh, and what if that tornado even came close to your building?  Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your data center would be fine?  Move your equipment to a third-party data center where they have the security in place; where they have the power protection and generation in place; where there is a tornado proof building protecting your IT investment.  And…you won’t have to go to the CFO and try to explain why you need a new badge access system; or a new fire suppression system; or a new generator or switching gear.

This wraps up our series on why you should move to a third-party data center instead of trying to create one on your own.  I hope that we have been able to at least provide you with enough information to accurately assess whether or not this is an option for you.  Keep checking in as we discuss more data center topics.