Archive for the ‘Data Center’ Category
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), developed by the US Green Building Council, is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings. The certifications come as Silver, Gold and Platinum, and the highest Platinum certification indicates the highest level of environmentally responsible construction with efficient use of resources.
Over the years, LEED has become more popular and is now an internationally accepted standard for “green buildings.” While LEED certified homes, commercial buildings and even neighborhoods are present across the world, LEED data centers are surprisingly rare. Less than 5% of all US data centers have LEED certification. This, however, is changing, and more and more data centers are now becoming LEED certified, thanks to the growing awareness of environmental issues.
A single word to describe LEED certified data centers is “sustainable.” Here are some characteristics of a typical LEED certified data center.
- Advanced cooling system to reduce energy consumption. This could be implemented in different ways, such as using outside air and cooling it by evaporation to cool the facility, deploying custom servers that operate at higher temperatures and using cold air containment pods with variable speed fans to match airflow with server requirements.
- Improved cooling efficiency. Using chilled water storage system, for instance, has the potential to transfer up to 10,400 kWh of electricity consumption from peak to off-peak hours daily and, therefore, improves cooling efficiency.
- Reduced energy consumption. Monitoring power usage in real-time and leveraging analytics during operations helps to allocate power judiciously. Distributing power at higher voltages reduces power loss, and eliminating energy-draining transformers helps to convert power to the appropriate voltage and reduce the generation of heat. The overall aim is to maintain low power usage effectiveness (PUE), which is the measure of the energy used beyond the IT load.
- Using a clean backup power system. One innovative approach is replacing the football field sized room full of batteries that powers the uninterrupted power supply with mechanical fly wheels and a diesel engine. This reduces emissions, noise pollution and fuel consumption.
- Using renewable energy. Extensive use of renewable energy, such as solar power, to reduce dependence on the grid and fossil fuels is a characteristic of all green data centers, moreso when aspiring for LEED certification.
- Green construction. Construction of the facility also influences LEED certification. Using recycled materials for construction, purchasing materials near the site to reduce consumption of fossil fuels and diverting construction waste to nearby landfills reflects positively on LEED ratings.
- Intelligent design. Adopting an in-row design confines the heat to a smaller area, reducing the space to cool and, therefore, reducing electricity consumption considerably. Similarly, a modular design helps to contain cooling only to the required area instead of cooling the entire facility.
While LEED does not force data centers to follow specific methods of cooling, reducing energy consumption and the like, the system has a combination of credit categories, and each credit category has specific perquisites that the data center has to satisfy. Each rating system is made up of a combination of credit categories, and the number of points the project earns determines the level of LEED certification.
To learn more about data center certifications, check out our Certifications and Qualifications page.
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In a world where data is a business’ most valuable asset, data protection, hosting and management is a business that is continuing to expand and grow. However, with the development of this space comes legal and security considerations. One area in this industry that is constantly changing and evolving is compliance, which varies from sector to sector. The players in this industry have to keep up with the latest regulations in order to keep their customers compliant, happy and provide a competitive advantage in their respective marketplace.
At Lifeline, we are always educating ourselves on new compliance regulations, and we have the certifications to prove it. But another important aspect is partnering with companies who value compliance as much as we do. Working in highly regulated industries and hosting systems to NIST standards, TCC Software Solutions seemed like a logical counterpart to what we’re trying to do for businesses across the nation.
TCC was founded in 1996 in Indianapolis, IN to provide technology consulting services and managed hosting services to businesses and government agencies. Now, the company has over 200 employees who have a high level of compliance expertise. TCC hosts systems to NIST, HIPAA and Sarbanes Oxley standards, which provide 99.995% uptime, 24/7 monitoring, daily management of hardware, operating systems and software applications to ensure optimal performance and system upgrades and updates.
When paired with Lifeline Data Centers, TCC can provide managed hosting services while we provide the real estate to house your data. With both organizations focused on compliance, we can safely say that your data will be protected, secure and managed effectively.
If you work in a highly regulated industry, then your data center and team, whether internal or external, needs to have a high level understanding of compliance issues within your sector. For more information on TCC and their service offerings, visit their website or call them at 1.866.563.6767 today.
For more information on why you should outsource your data center, download our “8 Reasons Companies Outsource Their Primary Data Center” white paper.
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High amounts of energy consumed by data centers have often been a sore point of deliberation in the world of technology. Of course, data centers are an integral part of the data protection business the world is so used to today and, without them, reading your archived emails might not even be possible. After all, in the United States alone, 3 million data centers operate day and night to ensure that every bit of computerized information is stored efficiently, with easy access whenever required.
The gargantuan task of providing support and greater efficacy to the flow and storage of information, of course, comes at a price, and that price is the high amounts of energy consumed by the data center industry. In 2013 alone, the figure stood at 91 billion kilowatt hours of electricity.
Now, while industry giants such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and eBay are announcing and deploying highly efficient energy-saving resources in their data centers, the smaller data centers are the ones that seem to be lagging behind in this race for lower energy consumption. The latter make quite a dent, too, as the large enterprises who are using energy-saving practics only form 5 percent of the data center industry in the US, while the smaller players make up the other 95 percent. These include data centers at corporations, small and medium-sized server rooms, as well as data centers that manage data for multiple clients.
If the entire industry could get their energy savings in gear by simply making changes to their existing methods using tools that already exist, the energy savings would amount to a whopping 40 percent. This translates into a savings of 39 billion kilowatt hours – energy that could provide power to around 3.5 million homes in the US. For the data center industry, this adds up to savings amounting to $3.8 billion, certainly an amount worth considering, especially when these numbers can be achieved simply by making changes to the existing systems.
At Lifeline Data Centers, we ensure that our business structure integrates the component of energy efficiency as a priority. We continue to adopt new technologies to help us save energy. After all, intelligent use of energy enables us to provide savings to our clients as well.
Interested in Lifeline Data Centers? Schedule a tour with us today to see our energy-saving practices firsthand.
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Data center security is the key to business operations running smoothly. With cyber crime and hacking gaining momentum, security administrators work relentlessly to ensure that their data environments are safe and protected. One area which is often ignored is the threat to critical data that exists from within a firewalled network. Combating back door vulnerabilities in data center procedures is a must and can be easily achieved by:
- Having an organization security policy that reflects current business requirements and is constantly updated.
- Having dedicated personnel responsible for implementation of the security policy with an eye on internal security.
Many instances have been reported where the root cause of outages have been internal. In fact, 60% of your security threats come from within. Here is a list of internal data security threats that can be prevented by introducing easy control mechanisms in the data center.
Internal Access Rights: Giving higher than necessary access rights to data center maintenance processes and technical staff that execute the processes can be tricky; it can lead to internal security breaches. Very often, technical staff that manage the data center is perceived to be the most trustworthy and deserving of higher access rights by default. Maintaining an organized access rights matrix with levels of security defined for each operation and user type, and diligently following this process even in high pressure situations, can help resolve this issue. For example, tape backup processes execute in privileged mode often at the network, data repository, and operating system levels. By gaining access to this tape backup infrastructure, hackers can easily penetrate into an organization’s most sensitive data.
Firewall Configurations: A firewall’s rule base is the technical implementation of the organization’s security policy. This is a very complicated piece and is often ignored once installed. Forgotten parts of the network, either direct or through Wi-Fi channels, can be exploited for unauthorized access into the data center environment.
Personal Devices: With management wanting to please their employees with mobility options, the risk to an organization’s security increases exponentially. Unencrypted laptops and mobile devices offer open windows for security attacks. Even though enforcing security policies on personal equipment is time-consuming and difficult to manage and control, it needs to be done diligently with high priority.
Bottom line is you need to be smart and safe. At Lifeline Data Centers, we have security measures in place to make sure this doesn’t happen. We have a great relationship with our employees, and we have a secure data center. Contact us today for more information.
A survey conducted by Gartner Inc. in the beginning of 2014 indicated that CIOs have the ‘Infrastructure and Data Center’ category ranked as number two on their list of technology priorities for the year. This category came second only to ‘Business Intelligence and Analytics,’ which is gaining exceptional momentum this year. Both the categories are related as BI has its dependencies on efficient and innovative ways of data storage and access. There is, however, a forceful shift happening in the data center environment as applications are being divided in the use of cloud-based systems and server as a service options, as compared to traditional on-premise options.
The total IT budget spend this year is in the range of $3.75 trillion globally. If data centers are the number two priority on the list, it leaves CIOs with a huge budget at their disposal. Data center budgets in the range of billions of dollars were unheard of a few years ago. Today, however, companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon are increasing capital expenses by as much as 60 to 85% on an average every year. For these big players, almost all of the capital expense is going in the area of infrastructure acquisitions or upgrades, either through buying land for constructing new data centers or through aggressively increasing network bandwidths and digital horsepower.
Gartner revised its numbers recently and indicated a slowdown in the data center investments as compared to what it had predicted earlier in the year. The numbers for the big giants still seem strong as Google’s financial results show that it spent $2.6 billion on data centers alone in Q2 of 2014. Amazon and Microsoft were also high in their spending with numbers close to the $1.2 billion range for Q1 2014. With such high infrastructure spending in 2014, the data center industry can expect a consolidation between 2015-2018 in terms of stabilization and moving towards using the new infrastructure.
In the current landscape, most vendors are looking for product differentiators. Without taking that into account, the only competitive factor to use is price. The risk of investing in products, services and software by vendors that may not make it through huge market consolidation waves in the future is very real.
Lifeline Data Centers has a stable, expanding business in the Midwest. We are continually looking for new ways to be more efficient, innovative and compliant. Schedule a tour with us today to learn more.
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In every business, innovation and evolution form the core of continual existence. This is becoming even more important in the data center business, where data is every business’ most valuable asset. Several trends and advances drive the changes expected to take place in the data center world, and a few among those are already underway. With the goal to reduce costs and power consumption without compromising on service or reliability, here are some innovations that top the list.
Processors and memory
The cost and power consumption factors are demanding and stimulating thoughtful innovations in the architecture of a data center. Cheaper flash memory options, processors that consume less energy while driving servers and improvements in memory components all aim at using less energy and providing cost-effective solutions. As the need to store more data increases, businesses are hungry for cheaper solutions, and data centers seem up to the task of offering just that.
As the data center industry evolves and grows as a vital component of every business structure, personnel like data engineers are high on demand, too. As important as high numbers are, equally necessary is the need for these personnel to be in sync wit and knowledgeable about the latest innovations in the industry. Training these employment assets for their new roles will be a challenge the sector will be working towards with conviction.
The industry is set to take the next step and this means that priorities will change on the spending front, too. Innovations will make way for increased operational expenditure and businesses will revamp their investment strategies accordingly. These investment models will, in fact, begin to determine the continual success of a business.
The right balance
Traditional means of storage and backup will merge with new options, such as the cloud, and remote infrastructure will be in demand. While these facets of the data center are divided today, a mix is imminent. This mix will take the best in security, reliability and cost effectiveness from both the traditional and new in order to create a well-balanced structure.
At Lifeline Data Centers, we not only follow the latest trends in the business, but even drive them. Staying at the forefront in every facet of the data center evolution, we pride ourselves in offering the most innovative solutions, all through a fast-paced and highly flexible business structure. Contact us for more information today.
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Efficient cooling is one of the vital elements of the data center industry for various reasons. A smooth-running cooling system helps keeps costs at bay and allows data centers to offer competitive pricing for their services. An increase in data traffic essentially translates into an increase in demand for enhanced efficiency at lower costs on the data center front.
Rapid escalation in energy costs, as well as the environmental challenges related to high amounts of energy consumption, have made it essential for the data industry to improve its infrastructure. Reducing the carbon footprint is also one of the vital elements in the modern data center, and cooling plays a prominent role in the changes being planned and implemented.
Making engineering changes to the physical data center is a major move that helps in increasing cooling efficiency. Changes in designs that promote enhanced recycling of the air in a data center include raised floors, as well as installing large fans that bring in cool air from outside and mixing it with the warm air generated within through a mixing chamber and floor vents. This helps in maintaining a constant temperature, thus taking a load off from chilling units that consume high amounts of energy. These techniques prove to be even more effective in climates that are cool and temperate, and they make a considerable contribution in controlling the heat generated from racks.
Another innovation making headlines is development in liquid cooling. Spot-cooling systems are looking good as a viable option, where liquid coolant can travel up to the racks through optimally placed pipes, thus allowing rapid cooling to reach the heat source directly. A well-organized design for the distribution of these pipes is, of course, a necessary element. Liquid submersion cooling is also a workable solution that is being explored by service providers.
Though there are a lot of experimental innovations in cooling, factors such as the location and size of the data center and investment capabilities are important when it comes to implementation of new systems. These should be taken into account when deciding on cooling techniques.
At Lifeline Data Centers, we continually implement innovative technologies to ensure optimum cooling at reasonable costs, which, in turn, we are able to offer affordable and efficient services. Integrating proven cooling technologies into our data center infrastructure, we maintain a perfect balance through improvisation and reliability.
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Cooling is an important aspect for data centers. Time, effort, power and costs are involved in finding the best cooling solutions. While there is a lot of hype around new techniques such as liquid cooled heat sinks, immersion cooling, direct and indirect air side economization, many data centers are still using old mechanisms that might not be as efficient.
A cooling economizer system can considerably bring down costs and energy usage in a data center. This is a widely used system in newer constructions and hard to fit into an existing data center. This solution allows for direct cooling from the outside air when external air conditions, such as temperature and humidity, are favorable. It reduces the need to keep mechanical cooling systems switched on all the time, resulting in energy and cost savings of as much as 30 to 50 percent. When direct air economizers are used, however there is the risk of having pollutants and contaminants from entering into the data center environment. In this case, indirect air economizer systems can be used where the air is first treated through filters and ducts so as to avoid contamination. This is a safer solution, but increases the cost factor and impacts the energy savings.
Fluid economizers are also gaining popularity as a cost saving cooling technique. This solution is better suited to fit into existing data centers. Depending on outside temperature conditions, compressors can be shut off and small liquid pumps can be used as an alternative. When using a liquid pump, the energy utilized is almost one tenth than what is needed to operate a traditional compressor system.
Use of economizers is gaining momentum in new data centers and is backed by the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 and 90.1-2013. Prior to 2010, data centers were exempt from using economizers. Currently, based on geographical location, economizers are being added as part of the cooling solutions in most of the US.
We are always trying to find new ways to be efficient, in every aspect of our data center. For the best solutions in data center cooling in the Midwest, get in touch with us at Lifeline Data Centers today.
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As a Tier 4 data center, Lifeline takes compliance and uptime seriously. A major component of uptime is data center power compartmentalization, or the practice of isolating power systems and paths from one another to ensure that each disparate part of the infrastructure can independently perform tasks on its own. Without effective power compartmentalization, the risk of downtime goes up significantly.
- What is power compartmentalization and why is it important?
- The benefits of data center power compartmentalization.
- The right way to do data center power compartmentalization.
- Why compartmentalization matters for your business’ data.
Download the white paper to learn more now.
HIPAA compliance, which aims to protect confidentiality and security of healthcare records, is unavoidable for companies and data centers who wish to handle the data of these companies. While most data centers and healthcare providers are aware of the HIPAA provisions and take steps to ensure compliance, many of them make some mistakes which may render the compliance efforts a waste and make the company liable for non-compliance action. A significant area of mistakes and oversights relate to security aspects.
Here are a couple of ways you can reconcile HIPAA compliance with network security.
Do NOT compromise on security infrastructure: Complying with all the provisions of HIPAA may still result in non-compliance. This is because HIPAA, while focusing on privacy and security relating to personal data, assumes that there are already tight security processes in place. This is very often not the case, and health purveyors have a high risk of security breaches from hackers and others, just like every other company. In an age where cyber crimes are at an all time high, having top grade security infrastructure backed up by sound security policies that work in keeping major threats at bay are important to comply with HIPAA provisions. Having said this, throwing money on infrastructure is not enough. It is equally important to develop a strong culture where security is given the commitment and priority it deserves.
Review system activity: HIPAA mandates organizations to review their system activity regularly, through access and security-incident reports. However, in today’s environment, there is a high incidence of employees processing and storing covered health information on their mobile phones, which may be outside the scope of organizational control. When it comes to external storage in the cloud, the organizations are equally helpless, and it is up to the data center or the cloud provider to undertake these reviews. Organizations need to ensure that their service providers do what’s necessary, rather than assume the provider has these systems in place.
Encrypt data: Encrypting stored data negates the work of cyber-attackers breaching the network and trying to steal data. Encryption prevents data thieves from accessing or tampering with sensitive information, therefore sparing the organization from liabilities. Organizations need to always choose data centers that offers high-grade encryption.
Do not underestimate physical security: Organizations across the board, be it the parent company or data centers, often take physical security for granted, when that remains a major weak spot for security breaches. Professional data thieves and rogue insiders may find it easier to run away with backup disks or even the server itself, rather than trying to hack the network. A simple case of employee carelessness in misplacing backup tapes can be just as damaging. Among the most common HIPAA violations involve healthcare employees accessing files inappropriately, either out of curiosity or maliciously. Make sure that the data center takes physical security seriously and has thorough the record-keeping in place, including accountability logs.
Network security is in a constant state of flux, as new challenges emerge by the day. Organizations and, by extension, data centers, who need to comply fully with HIPAA have no option but to take a proactive approach to security and meet these challenges directly.
Lifeline Data Centers has all of these network security issues covered, and we are a Tier 4 data center that takes both physical and digital security seriously. Schedule a tour with us to learn more today.