Let the compliance experts at Lifeline Data Centers help you solve your SSAE 16, TIA-942, NFPA, HIPAA, FIMSA, FDA, PCI/DSS and Sarbanes Oxley audit problems. We stay on top of compliance issues so you don’t have to.
Our passion is helping companies optimize their IT strategies and decisions. We work with companies to help them determine the best solutions for their production data centers and disaster recovery centers. Using external data center (colocation) facilities is one of the easiest ways to manage IT costs while improving service reliability and uptime. We’ll show you how! Find us on Twitter: @lifelinedatactr
Data centers are power hogs. In the US, these facilities alone are responsible for about 2% of the total energy usage in the country (according to research by Villanova University). If all the data centers of the world are put together, their power consumption would exceed all but four sovereign nations of the world.
The lion’s share of this energy consumption is used for cooling the servers and other computing equipment, using fans, air coolers, air conditioning, and other methods. Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment estimates that about 50% of all power consumption in an average data center is for cooling purposes. This cooling equipment add considerably to the size of the data center as well, contributing to the waste and inefficiency.
It is important to bring about energy efficiency, not just to reduce operational costs, but also as part of your corporate social responsibility policy. There are two ways to do something about it.
The first approach is to use the heat generated for other purposes. Cities like Munich and Vancouver already divert the heat for other purposes, and the city of Seattle plans to follow suit. Seattle aims to take the water that cools two local data centers to pipe it and warm 10 million square feet of building space in the surrounding areas. However, deploying such a diversion system can be very expensive. Furthermore, a majority of data centers in the world today are situated in heat ridden tropics, where trying to sell more heat would be similar to carting coal to Newcastle. Even in the cooler atmospheres of the UK and USA, many data centers are situated at isolated country-sides without any buildings nearby that could use the generated heat.
The other option, when there is too much heat around for it to be of any use, is to improvise and innovate on cooling systems.
A data center in Hong Kong recently innovated with a rack-mounted immersion cooling system. This novel implementation of ultra-high-density cooling supports loads of up to 225kW a rack. The set-up uses rows of rack-mounted tanks filled with Novec, a liquid cooling solution created by 3M. Inside each tank, densely-packed boards of Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) run constantly as they crunch data. The Novec boils off as the chips generate heat, removing the heat as it changes from liquid to gas.
The future belongs to data centers that are leaner, smarter, and, therefore, cost and resource efficient. And the immersion cooling technology promises an extremely energy-efficient, space-saving, and cost-efficient cooling facility for data centers.
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Changing technology in data centers makes existing infrastructural assets obsolete, resource-guzzlers before they play out their natural life-cycle. This can decrease efficiency in the data center, leading to resource waste.
Most data centers develop issues such as server sprawl, replacing machines that are never decommissioned, and aging power infrastructure over time. The fact that the data center has to function on a 24×7 basis makes changing anything difficult, but data centers cannot afford to risk obsolete and monumental waste in the form of real estate costs or power bills.
However, data centers can make a switch over to a lean, green and efficient infrastructure without any disruptions to operations. The savings alone would more than make up the upfront investment and would allow the data centers to offer clients better pricing. Here are some ways you can make your data center leaner and greener:
Conducting a thorough equipment inventory regularly helps to weed out any servers that are not performing any function but are continuing to draw power, not to mention old and inefficient power-guzzling monsters. Companies have eliminated as much as 25% of their data center equipment this way. This reduces both power and real estate costs.
Replacing aging blade servers with new models can offer power savings of about 40%. Modernizing the storage area network, scrapping aged uninterrupted power supply for newer more-efficient systems, or ripping out unnecessary cabling would bring in further energy savings and reduce the demand for space.
Redesigning the data center layout to a hot-aisle/cold-aisle setup would reduce the need for cooling power by half and increase efficiency by about 40%. Containerizing the server racks would help to reduce cooling power even more, as the data center would then only need to cool sections of the server room rather than everything all the time.
These are just a couple of ways to make your data center more efficient. If you don’t want to do it yourself and are looking for an efficient data center solution, contact us at Lifeline Data Centers today.
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Compliance can be a pain to keep up with and can have serious consequences if you do not keep up with it. The recent headlines where Windows discontinues support to its most popular Windows XP operating system may, at first glance, seem not at all related to compliance. However, the fact is that systems that continue to run Windows XP operation system would be without support and therefore more likely to develop vulnerabilities. Storing health records in systems still operating on Windows XP run the risk of non-compliance with the HIPAA Act.
It is not enough for you to simply upgrade all your systems. When you outsource to a data center, if the data center runs systems on Windows XP and your records are compromised as a result, it is you, and not the data center, who will be liable in the eyes of the law.
So how do you protect yourself against these kinds of hidden dangers? It is not possible to be knowledgable of every single development in technology, relate it to compliance, and check whether the data center is protected on that front. The solution lies in taking a close look at what the data center is doing.
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, lays down standards for protecting sensitive patient data. Any entity that handles protected health information needs to ensure physical, network, and process security for the data. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to ensuring HIPAA compliance. HIPAA Security standards are flexible and scalable, and each entity may take any reasonable security measures to meet the laid down objectives of the act. Therefore, if the data center has robust security systems in place that would compensate even if HIPAA covered data passes through a compromised XP system, there is nothing to worry about.
The underlying point to note is whether the data center has accreditation for being HIPPA compliant. Related compliance certifications such as SSAE Type II, PCI DSS, HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act), and others would also indicate the robustness of the data center security and the seriousness with which it views compliance and security. You also need to know the extent to which the data center updates and reviews its compliance and security set-up in order to be aware of emerging threats.
In today’s security threat landscape, the ability of the service provider to secure customers data is of prime importance. Lifeline Data Centers hold compliance as one of the important aspects of our data center. Learn more today.
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The data center industry keeps expanding and growing and a big reason is the increasing shift towards cloud computing. More and more Internet users now prefer data stored in the cloud rather than on hard drives. Businesses have now realized that a properly implemented cloud infrastructure would improve their agility and productivity, while also cutting infrastructure costs at the same time.
However, businesses that entrust their data to a cloud provider assume that their data is safe just because they have passed the burden to someone else. However, they need to undertake a comprehensive review of the data center that would hold their data to make sure they are housing it in a safe place. This review should cover the following broad areas:
There are a variety of factors to consider when it comes to security in the data center.
The physical security of the data center is of critical importance and you need to know what safeguards are in place against floods, fire and other threats, as well as access controls for physical machines.
Another important yet often overlooked consideration is virtual data center security, which depends on the cloud architecture. Check into how individual compute nodes, network nodes, and storage nodes are architected, integrated, and secured since they have a great bearing on the robustness and security of the data center.
The physical and virtual security deployments of the data center depend on the extent of controls available. One important consideration is whether the data centers are SAS 70 Type II data centers. SAS 70 Type II reports specify the internal controls in place at the data centers and are applicable for service organizations.
The physical security infrastructure and controls in place notwithstanding, truly secure data centers have well-trained and skilled operators, adept in dealing with the different situations and scenarios that may emerge in an emergency.
Even when data is stored in a third-party data center, the business is still liable for data breaches. It is the business that is responsible for a data breach, even if the data center is responsible.
Different companies have different compliance needs, depending on the nature of their business and the clients they serve. Data centers need to not just deal with multiple compliance standards, but they also need to be adept in resolving and reconciling incompatible standards set by different countries or agencies.
Offshore data centers would have to comply with set of rules and regulations different from the rules and regulations in the US or the base country of the client. For instance, the European Union has laws that protect privacy, whereas the US Patriot Act allows virtually unlimited powers to federal agencies to access information belonging to companies. The client needs to ensure that the data center complies with the minimum mandatory requirements of the client’s host country, if nothing else. However, compliance goes beyond satisfying the minimum mandatory requirements, and, in most cases, requires compliance with other standards widely accepted by the industry.
The world of compliance is highly fluid and another important yardstick to gauge data centers is the extent to which they remain updated on the changing compliance requirements .
Good data centers have state of the art security measures in place, including physical access controls, firewalls, and military grade encryption. However, no matter how robust the security, a company would ideally want to integrate the data center security with their own corporate security policy. This means that instead of being forced to accept whatever security and compliance that the data center offers, the client should be in a position to extend their existing policies to the additional platform, albeit an external one. Whatever extra security features that the data center provides would be a bonus.
Data centers that remain flexible on the policies and offer a comprehensive range of security features should easily be able to accommodate the client’s security policies, without it clashing with or overlapping their own security policies. Lifeline Data center offers flexible data center solutions to accommodate all your customized needs. Contact us today.
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When it comes to addressing physical security needs for a data center, protection against fire is one of the major aspects that needs to be covered. Today, data centers in the US need to comply to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 75 and 76 revised standards to ensure that fire suppression mechanisms are in place. What is also interesting is that standard compliance is covered under jurisdiction, so avoidance or lack of adherence to these can result in severe consequences.
The NFPA 75 is the Standard for the Fire Protection of Information Technology Equipment — 2013 Edition – and focuses on data centers. The NFPA 76 is the Standard for the Fire Protection of Telecommunications Facilities — 2012 Edition – with a focus on all aspects that are impacted by public telecommunication.
The revised standards have a considerable impact on data centers that use containment cooling. Containment offers great benefits to data center efficiencies by separating the hot and cold aisles. This, however, can prove to be extremely dangerous in case of fires, since fire detection becomes more difficult. Therefore, new revisions to the standards had to be introduced to address these aspects.
According to the new revisions, fire protection sprinklers need to be redesigned so that they cover all areas of contained aisles. The other option suggested is to have auto containment panels in such a way that the enclosures are integrated with the fire detection system. In this solution, the barriers to the containment aisles open up automatically in the event of a fire. Electrical containment is the more expensive option of the two and hence not as widely adopted currently.
The NFPA 75 requires that data centers install smoke detection systems that are in compliance with the NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code so as to give the earliest warning of a fire. The NFPA 76 has slightly different requirements with regards to the smoke detection systems that need to be installed. For facilities with telecommunication equipment in an area above 2,500 square feet, the standard requires Very Early Warning Fire Detection (VEWFD) detection systems to be used. For rooms below 2,500 square feet, the Early Warning Fire Detection (EWFD) system is required.
When it comes to prevention against natural disaster such as fires, any costs related to risk mitigation will be justified when compared to the cost of damage that will be incurred in case of an actual fire. It is always better to be safe than sorry and following standards such as the NFPA is surely a step forward in the right direction. For more NFPA compliance information for data centers, do get in touch with the data center experts at Lifeline Data Centers.
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Cloud computing is gaining momentum by the minute. Whilst many enterprises have already taken the plunge and moved to the cloud, there are many others still on the edge, waiting to make the right decision. Yes, the cloud does have many benefits, but do you really need to go that way, or will a colocated data center serve you better? These are some of the many questions that CIO’s and CTO’s are facing in the modern technology world.
Recent research revealed that as many as 40% of all businesses were using the cloud in 2012. Mail services were the most popular with 27% of the world’s mailboxes being hosted on a cloud. There is also an interesting forecast that more than 30% of the world’s computing will be done on the cloud by the year 2018.
How does this impact traditional data centers? Cloud service providers typically use data centers as their back office mechanism, so while you may be using a cloud-based service, chances are that you are still being served by a data center. Following are some of the significant aspects to consider when choosing one over the other.
- Scalability: A data center does have some limitations over scale. Contracts have to be worded carefully if scalability is a key requirement since one typically pays for power consumption. Hence, if there is not an immediate or big need for sudden scalability then a data center is a better option. Cloud services can cater to scalability in a more efficient way and should be the natural choice when the need to scale is an integral part of the business.
- Security: Security can be more tightly managed in a data center. Data centers also take great care of physical security, plan for disaster recovery, and also go through rigorous security compliance audits. With the cloud, the access points are more open which makes it more vulnerable to security breaches.
- Time and Cost Factor: For Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s), Cloud services can prove to be more cost and time effective, especially since they are subscription-based and can start service almost immediately. Data centers can be comparatively higher on the cost and start-up time.
Most business owners will agree that making a timely decision is as important as taking the right decision. If you are at the critical deciding point, do get in touch with Lifeline Data Centers before taking the plunge.
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In today’s age of heightened security concerns, one would assume that businesses safeguard their networks. However, the reality is that about one out of every four businesses fail to carry out even the most basic security reviews of their operations.
A business that has an online presence, especially an ecommerce website that processes and stores their customers personal and credit card information, needs to comply with PCI-DSS regulations and a host of other compliance regulations, aimed at ensuring that the network remains equipped to ward off threats. However, these compliance regulations are the basic minimum required by law or industry convention. It takes much more to actually deliver a strong and robust network that would keep cyber criminals at bay.
Apart from undertaking routine compliance audits to determine whether all the required compliance standards are fulfilled and filling the gaps, network administrators need to deploy additional security measures to safeguard their networks, applications, and mobile devices. This may include firewalls, network monitoring, white listing apps and websites, and anti-virus suites. This is even more pertinent in today’s age of virtualization and migration to the cloud. These moves have created a less secure environment and many statutory compliance standards have not been updated to take into account the inherent risks that these innovations pose to cyber security. Defending the network in the face of these new challenges requires a new security architecture, focusing on deep security. The components of deep security may include deep packet inspection, integrity monitoring, and log inspection, apart from the standard deployments, such as firewall and malware protection suites.
Another key line of additional defense is physical security for the network against both accidental and malicious breaches. This assumes the form of physical locks for the servers, strong access control system to the server room, and secured cabling.
Side-by-side, network administrators aim at 100% uptime, as every second of downtime is catastrophic for online businesses. For this, they need to remain weary of DDOS attackers of various hues and test websites and apps frequently to determine whether they are capable of withstanding sudden bouts of high traffic, or, at least, recognize it.
A data center that hosts the website server is a strategic partner in ensuring the security and uptime of business, and it is important to select a data center that delivers on all these fronts. Lifeline Data Center offers a host of customized solutions with a firm understanding of compliance, security, and up-time, and we are the perfect partners for your online business. Contact us today.
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Data center containment is an area that has been experiencing phenomenal growth in the last couple of years, especially due to its capability of optimizing data center efficiency.
Typically, over the years, data centers have been designed with the IT equipment racks arranged in rows. The front of racks from both the sides face each other and are continuously cooled so as to keep the IT equipment inside in a cool state. This thus creates the cold aisle. Similarly, the rear of the racks face each other and are responsible for expelling the hot air out from the IT equipments, thus creating the hot aisle.
Cold aisle containment is the solution by which the cold air is contained in the cold aisle, either by constructing high vertical walls, end of row doors, or aisle ceilings. By this technique, the cold air does not escape out and air flow management is much better. Similarly, hot aisle containment is where the hot air is contained in the hot aisle and is not allowed to mix with the cold air in the cold aisle.
Data center power and cooling efficiency statistics reveal that for every 50kW of power that is supplied to the IT equipment, as much as 100 to 150 kW is needed for supplying cooling to the environment. An alarming 60% of cooling energy gets wasted in the form of bypass air. Data center containment is the solution to this inherent inefficiency and is becoming successful in bringing down the power to cooling ratio to even 1:1 in some cases. Properly implemented containment solutions have been known to reduce utility consumption bills by as much as 30%.
Like any other operational efficiency solution, containment is a solution that has to be managed and needs to be assigned a single owner. Typically, the stakeholders in a data center are the facilities staff, the IT staff, and the data center operations employees. Experts reveal that these 3 groups typically have differences in terms of their favored temperatures, and, therefore, are designating a single owner to the containment implementation is necessary.
Containment is needed in data centers and is a best practice followed by most modern data centers. For more inputs on containment and designing and implementing the best of hot aisle/ cold aisle data center containment techniques, do get in touch with Lifeline Data Centers today.
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The mention of data centers conjures up images of racks and racks of equipment with lights blinking and power supplies buzzing. However, efficient data centers don’t always have to be like that. As of late, data centers have started to apply the minimalist philosophy to data centers as well, so that data centers perform just as efficiently and handle just as much as data as before with less equipment. In fact, in today’s highly competitive world, the square footage should ideally be the least expensive component of data center operations.
There are three critical ways for large-scale data centers to reduce their square footage costs.
Many data centers, especially large ones, take the servers running on their premises for granted. The fact remains that many large data centers invariably have many old servers running with very few knowing what these servers do. Empirical evidence suggests that as high as 40 percent of the servers in large and established data centers are unused, yet these servers continue to remain on, as no one is ready to unplug them and risk bringing the entire system crashing. Many old machines are antiquated ones, sucking huge quantities of energy and taking up valuable space. Undertaking a physical audit to remove the unneeded servers, and shift the data to eliminate unneeded servers, would reduce the data center space and racks considerably, reducing all round costs, especially energy and square footage costs.
Many data centers continue to run on bulky legacy servers, as the effort it takes to replace them would be phenomenal and would cause major disruptions to boot. Taking a one-time effort to bite the bullet may be worth its while in creating considerable savings every month. Sleek new generation servers are many times more efficient than bulky old ones.
Another better approach is clustering. This entails a diametric shift in data center setup, doing away with the traditional racks entirely. New generation micro servers come in boxes no more than the size of Rubix’s cubes. Data centers can simply add another micro server to the existing chunk as demand rises. These micro servers consume just a tenth of the power required to operate a conventional quad-core AMD or Intel server, and occupy way less space.
To start a conversation on how to store your data efficiently, contact us at Lifeline Data Centers today.
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A huge new data co-location center in the Fort Wayne area will be an economic driver for northeast Indiana. The new Lifeline Data Center, expected to open later this year, will be rated as a Tier-4 data center, “but our specifications far exceed the already high standards of a Tier-4 center,” said Lifeline Data Centers’ founders, Richard Banta and Alex Carroll.
The announcement of the new data center was made at The Orchard Ridge Country Club March 25. For security reasons the specific location of data centers is rarely revealed.
The data center will be a large structure filled with computers that store critical information for businesses, hospitals, government, universities and other institutions that need to safeguard their critical data in a secure facility.
“Although we won’t employ large numbers of people,” Carroll said, “a Lifeline Data Center will be a major drawing card for new businesses looking at northeast Indiana to locate — and for existing companies to expand or to increase their capacity for local and secure data storage.”
The Lifeline Data Center will be a wholesale co-location facility; a high tech landlord; and a compliance boutique.
Lifeline has been serving companies since 2001 in healthcare, software development, utilities, life sciences and government, by providing a high level of offsite data security solutions, decreasing the risk of downtime and associated expenses.
A Tier-4 data center is considered the most ‘robust’ of data centers. It is designed to host mission-critical servers and computer systems, with fully redundant cooling, power, network links and storage subsystems and compartmentalized security zones controlled by biometric access controls. A Tier-4 center guarantees 99.995 percent availability. Components are fully fault-tolerant including uplinks, storage, chillers, HVAC systems and servers. Everything is dual-powered.
Richard Banta, Lifeline chief data center officer, said the Fort Wayne Lifeline Data Center will:
- be audit ready for CCHIT,SSAE 16, TIA-942, NFPA, HIPAA, FIMSA, FDA, PCI/DSS and Sarbanes Oxley
- have master electricians, HVAC specialists, and diesel mechanics on staff
- provide multiple redundancies for reliability with three uninterruptable power supply (UPS) feeds to server cages
- have custom designed and built AC and server cooling systems and
- offer access to many telecommunications providers.
- Banta said the Fort Wayne Lifeline Data Center will have onsite compliance expertise, including two certified information systems analysts on staff and one certified data center expert, of which there only nine in the U.S.
The Fort Wayne Lifeline Data Center will also offer one-of-a-kind secured co-location office and adaptive manufacturing space. Lifeline maintains a current SSAE 16 Type II Audit Report and as a compliance boutique, has in-house compliance experts.
The new Fort Wayne data center will follow reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) protocols.
“RCM is the gold standard for systems that cannot fail such as passenger aircraft, fighter jets and weapons systems,” explained Banta.
Most clients choose to use Lifeline purely as a landlord, fully managing their own information technology infrastructure. Other clients use Lifeline’s co-location facilities and office space along with Lifeline’s managed services to supplement their own IT staff. To learn more about Lifeline Data Centers, visit www.lifelinedatacenters.com.
Since 2001, Lifeline Data Centers has helped companies improve uptime and control data center facilities operating expense. Lifeline is an innovator in wholesale colocation, continually finding ways to reduce downtime risks while driving down costs. Our approach is simple: delight customers with flexible, cost-effective data center floor space, office space, and services.
Lifeline Data Centers is a wholesale colocation facility; a high tech landlord. We provide data center and office real estate to companies who require uptime, connectivity, and room for growth. Lifeline provides secure hardened data center buildings, highly reliable power and cooling, and access to many telecommunications providers. Some clients choose to use Lifeline purely as a landlord, fully managing their own information technology infrastructure.” Other clients Lifeline’s colocation facilities and office space along with Lifeline’s managed services to augment their IT staff.
Lifeline Data Centers serves over hundreds of companies in health care, software, utilities, pharma, cloud computing, and government. If you value uptime, consider Lifeline Data Centers' flexible wholesale colocation and office space solutions.