Andy Billingham, M.D of EMKA UK considers how global electronic access and environmental monitoring for co-location data centres is being reinforced with next generation security and reliability enclosure technology
The organisation of co-location data centres has developed both globally and technically over the past decade.
At the time companies such as EMKA were developing conceptual solutions in-line with these advances.
In 2006 the company wrote their first whitepaper on 'ELM Security System - Electronic Locking & Manufacturing.' These solutions originated with individual electronically accessed swinghandles such as the 12V/24V 1150 unit and grew with the networking power of high-speed CAN BUS modules.
The original whitepaper defined the parameters involved in a security system reaching down through perimeter to cabinet and dealing also with environmental security in the form of thermal stability, humidity and vandalism. This also expressed the possible reach of an electronic system with an outline of benefits and management issues.
Now the company has achieved a full system solution with its Meta ELM Database System coupled with RM 490 hardware, which together offer global SNMP access security and rack environmental monitoring for server racks or other sensitive equipment.
Our data focussed age has highlighted even quite recently the need for security on an ever-broadening scale and co-location data centres are at the very heart of this need.
Such centres handle information prioritised by its sensitivity or absolute value with highest security applied in a hierarchy from site access, per server room, per server section and per individual cabinet or cabinet compartment.
These high security, high reliability imperatives cover everything from organisations and mergers, corporate accounts, government records, financial services, potential manufacturing processes, policing, local government, global legal matters, online sales, personnel records, tax, media and telecoms. In fact every possible facet of our organised social economic lives.
At the heart of the system
At the core of the database system is a Database Server (Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2). Here, all components of connected ELM systems (all doors, sensors, relays, fan controllers, access cards etc.) and their characteristics are provided in terms of data tables for evaluation or configuration.
Writing into these tables yields corresponding changes in the systems. That way you can configure the systems, or - for example - open doors by writing into a data table or by executing SQL commands or scripts.
The database server and the ELM systems are connected via network. A proxy application performs the translation between the SNMP and the database server.
The database system does not change the existing way of operation. The systems work independently as without presence of the database, e.g. the decision on opening a door or entering a code or by presenting a card is made by the ELM system itself.
Therefore these operations work as before; whether the database is connected or not and it does not require an exclusive access to the ELM systems, so you may access a system by ELM control the same if needed (but this may slow down response time).
Basically the database is an open platform for different GUI applications. Customers may use database client tools of their choice. The database allows for operations (configuration, searching, monitoring, etc.) across the boundaries of a single ELM system.
Examples: include: assigning access codes to handles within all systems by a single operation or searching for temperatures across a certain value in all systems at once. Event logs are collected in the database, which allows for searching specific events and so on.
The license free Microsoft database supports long time storage of sensor values and fan controller outputs. You can map these to diagrams (e.g. by using Excel) to visualise the course of values over time graphically.
Accessing data via the database is more secure because database connections support encryption while the SNMP communication (ELM system <-> ELM control) is not encrypted.
If these systems are switched off then you will be able to see the last status of data (as 'offline' data) from the database tables whereas ELM control requires always a connected ELM system to show something.
Within the RMS 490 19in package eight inputs are available for electromechanical locking systems and door contacts. Opening a lock is via keypad and pin code, transponder cards, mobile phones and of course via network and SNMP commands.