A data center is a physical facility used by organizations to house core Information technology, computer services, and infrastructure. Given the criticality of a data center to the business, every organization must ensure data center designs consider the security, reliability, and availability of data center resources. Thus, the logical design must always precede the physical design, and the following critical components must be considered.
First, selecting an appropriate geographical location of the data center is critical. The data center’s physical location is influenced by several factors: internet connectivity, ability to get support during an emergency, physical security of the building, availability of redundant power sources, and the frequency of natural disasters. Also, the support infrastructure, which comprises equipment such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), uninterruptible power supply, backup generators used to secure and sustain high availability of data center resources, are all crucial factors to consider. Thus, the Uptime Institute tier standard provides an objective guide for comparing the functionality, capacity, reliability, and availability of data center design topologies (UptimeInstitute, 2021). HVAC optimizes the cooling of data center equipment by keeping the temperature at the appropriate level while maintaining adequate airflow (hot and cool air) within the facility.
Also, the data center’s cabling must be done appropriately to ensure high-rise ceilings that facilitate air circulation, thereby maintaining the temperature and relative humidity of the data center at a level specified by ASHRAE. ASHRAE recommends a minimum temperature of 15degrees centigrade maximum temperature of 32degrees centigrade. The minimum relative humidity of 20%, and maximum relative humidity of 80% (ASHRAE, 2016). Also, a data center’s logical and physical design must consider access to internet connectivity and the data center’s physical security. Given that every data center is designed to serve the organization for years to come, the current design must leave room for growth in floor space, server space, power, cooling, and internet connectivity requirements.
Security in a Data Center
Multifactor authentication and logging are critical in restricting access to data center resources. Multifactor authentication, using biometric technology such as fingerprinting or Iris scan (though expensive to implement and manage), is the most preferred method of controlling access to a data center. With biometric access control, individuals’ biological, physiological, or behavioral characteristics are used for identification and authentication (Kennedy Okokpujie et al., 2021), thereby ensuring granular access and accountability. More so, a zero-trust approach should be adopted when already in the data center. This means every access point within the data center should require authorization, and visitors must be escorted to authorized areas while in the data center. This aspect of physical security prevents any individual from using the initial access credentials to access all other locations within the data center facility. More so, the use of mantrap will help prevent piggyback within sensitive areas of the data center. Finally, installing fences and surveillance cameras in and around the building and door locks are various aspects of managing access to a data center.
To control access to a data center, multifactor authentication that includes something you know, like a PIN and something you are, such as fingerprint or iris scans is an excellent choice. Given that the purpose of physical security in a data center is to prevent unauthorized access, biometric identification and authentication solutions help maintain strict control over who has access to the data center and its resources, thereby preserving the integrity of data center resources. Unlike a username and password that could be easily compromised, Iris recognition technology has proven to be a non-invasive biometric technology with a high accuracy rate (Mo & Chen, 2021). Thus, Iris scan in combination with other forms of multifactor authentication is a technology of choice, especially when it comes to very sensitive areas within the data center
ASHRAE. (2016). Data Center Power Equipment Thermal Guidelines and Best Practices. https://tc0909.ashraetcs.org/documents/ASHRAE_TC0909_Power_White_Paper_22_June_2016_REVISED.pdf
Kennedy Okokpujie, S. A., Abayomi-Alli, O., John, A., Adoghe, A., & Okokpujie, I. (2021). Implementation of a bimodal biometric access control system for data center. International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), 12(3). https://doi.org/10.34218/IJARET.12.3.2021.038
Mo, X., & Chen, T. (2021). Research on image preprocessing for iris recognition. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Volume 2031, 2021 2nd International Conference on Signal Processing and Computer Science (SPCS 2021) 20-22 August 2021, Qingdao, China,
UptimeInstitute. (2021). Data Center Design Document Certification. https://uptimeinstitute.com/publications/asset/tier-standard-topology