our centers to have five layers of security before
anyone can even reach the equipment,” says Raouf
Abdel, regional operating chief, Equinix Americas,
Denver, Colorado, USA. Equinix operates more
than 100 data centers in 15 countries, helping to
keep safe the information of organizations such as
Amazon and Google.
Projects have featured security stations situated behind ballistic glass and biometric scanning
incorporated into almost every entry point. At
Equinix-built facilities, potential intruders immediately encounter the aptly named mantrap. A hallway with a door on each end, the mantrap opens
just one door at a time. Its biometric scanners and
access code require the appropriate credentials
before the second door will open. Otherwise, Mr.
Abdel says, “the second door will not unlock, effectively trapping the person from entering or leaving the facility.” Guards can hold individuals here
either for traffic flow or to squash security risks.
Such extremely well-guarded data centers come
at a cost. Mr. Ibarra says DPR’s project budgets for
its centers can jump 1 percent to 5 percent for security features such as crash-resistant perimeter fencing, gunfire-resistant finishes and exterior-access
deterrent mechanisms. Considering that Google
spent US$390 million to expand its data center in
Belgium, such measures, even at small percentages,
mean hefty budget items. Yet they can offset potentially much greater costs resulting from lax security.
Project teams can’t build the same type of data
centers for different clients—or even for the same
client. They must weigh the demands of each facility’s location.
“Site selection is driven by the primary business need—production or not, backup or disaster
recovery, proximity to users—and security must
be tailored to each location and facility type,” Mr.
Ibarra says. Google’s data centers in the Americas,
Asia and Europe each have site-specific needs
dependent on regional conditions and risks.
“Sometimes, within the United States,” Mr.
Ibarra says, “we have to consider extra security in
areas of the country where hunting season is typi-
bars on venti-
unauthorized access. DPR teams building facilities
in more isolated locations have created 10-foot
(3-meter) berms surrounding the structures, set
back from the road by 150 feet ( 46 meters).
The most carefully protected data center is useless, however, if it cannot perform seamlessly. To
maintain uninterrupted service in these facilities,
project teams must ensure the unlimited supply
of electricity and water, especially in the event of
power outages. Google’s facilities use diesel engine
backup generators that can power the data centers
at full capacity for extended periods of time.
To help maintain function, DPR uses alarms on
manhole covers and security cameras detecting
intrusions. “The primary power and water streams
serving the data center are provided, maintained
and protected, from plain vandalism to intentional
breach,” Mr. Ibarra says. —Stephanie Schomer
come at a
1 to 5
“These facilities must comply with multiple
rings of security philosophy: deter, detect,
access, delay, respond and deny.”
—David Ibarra, DPR Construction, Redwood City, California, USA
Facebook’s data center in
Prineville, Oregon, USA