Archive for the ‘Data Center’ Category
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.
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Green data centers are now more of the norm rather than the exception. Green data centers allow companies to realize the best of both worlds: tremendous cost savings with reduced carbon footprints. However, these benefits require the integration of green concepts with a sound business strategy. Here are a few tips on how to make green data centers a commercial success:
Add to the Power Consumption!
Strange as it may seem, the commercial success of the green data center business model may depend on its drawing more power than an average data center.
The big difference is power efficiency rather than quantity. Green data centers use available power very efficiently, offering extra processing power. Highly efficient green data centers would offer the computing power what normally two or three data centers could provide, with just a marginally more overall power requirement than the normal data center. The cost savings and improvements in efficiency is huge, and clients could fit in more processing power with less rack space without worrying whether the data center can support electrical power requirements.
Customize the Space
“Lean” is a good approach for a green data center, but adopting “lean” practices in data center design and layout do not necessarily ensure commercial success. Commercial success requires building the data center using a modular “pod” system, with each “pod” having its own electrical room. This delivers the twin (and unmatched) benefits of flexibility and scalability. Data centers need to activate only as many “pods” as required, saving on the operating costs on space not required. Also, clients who rent these “pods” can use the allocated space in whatever way that suits their business needs best.
Pay Attention to the Location
One underestimated factor in the success of green data center is the location. A data center located in a dense urban area could sell the heat generated to cool servers to nearby buildings, as the city of Seattle proposes. Conversely, Facebook’s massive new data center in Lulea, Sweden, runs entirely on renewable energy generated by nearby hydroelectric schemes, with the location facilitating easy and cheap access to the renewable source.
A data center located in a prime location near a major city is perfect for collocation customers who need to upgrade or maintain their servers regularly. Reduced commuting time contributes to further “green” savings in the form of less fossil fuel used!
Offer Flexible Pricing
Many green data centers pass on some of their savings to their customers, and, in the process, increase their competitiveness. Data centers, however, could do more in this regard with intelligent pricing plans. For instance, buying data center space in the traditional way does not suit everyone, and data centers could innovate to sell power allocation for a flat rate per kW. Data centers, in turn, could position racks with varying power ranges. For instance, availability of racks that range in power and cooling density from 2kW to 15kW would allow clients to choose how they make use of the allocation.
Green data centers are the next stage in the evolution of data centers, not an alternative to conventional resource-guzzling centers. At Lifeline, we are consistently finding ways to make our data center more efficient because we care about the environment. For more information, schedule a tour with us today.
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Data centers are among the most technologically advanced businesses out there, and these enterprises have to evolve and change rapidly to survive. In fact, the only way a data center can thrive in this competitive atmosphere is by staying updated with all the new innovations in the industry. So, what are the broad changes the data center industry will witness in the future?
Shifting closer to the sea or colder regions
While this is only a theory, most experts predict that the option of moving data centers into locations by the sea, or even into it, isn’t far away. Seawater cooling is known to be quite a cost-cutter, so this development can’t be completely written off. An enterprise in Sweden has in fact saved a whopping million dollars a year by using seawater in its cooling structures.
Mobile data centers
Mobility is the key word for most technologies these days, which means data centers are subject to it, too. Structures that can be modified easily or even packed and shipped when required seem to be a credible option in the future. This, of course, will lead to saving on construction costs, too. However, we can see some flaws in that setup.
Security and privacy
Even now, we are witnessing several innovations on the security and privacy front, and we will continue to see this be a primary concern for data centers as well. As businesses around the world begin to security and privacy as critical factors, data centers will have to evolve accordingly, at all times innovating to fight potential threats. Government authorities will also demand more on this front and data centers will have to keep pace with legislations.
DR and BC integration
Disaster recovery and business continuity, though important factors in the data backup business today, will play an integrated role in the data center business of the future. The integration of these elements will be essential in a changing business environment.
At Lifeline Data Centers, we are up to date with all the evolving characteristics of the data center business, and we are ahead of the game in every sphere. This combination of foresight and progression makes us one of the best in the business. Contact us today to learn more.
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Many businesses now find purchasing and managing on-site servers to store data and run enterprise software an expensive and resource-debilitating proposition. Infrastructure and software require frequent attention, taking up the efforts of full-time staff and other resources. Businesses are increasingly migrating to cloud-based and non-cloud based data centers. These data centers offer time savings, stability benefits and cost savings in running costs, including reduced power bills.
These benefits apart, there is another reason why businesses are increasingly relying on data centers for their storage and hosting requirements. With environmental concerns at an all-time high, migrating to data centers also helps companies reduce their own carbon footprints.
But, what about the data centers themselves? Data centers welcome the additional business coming their way and seek to add to their hosting capacity by constructing new data centers and overhauling their existing facilities. But, with this, they run the risk of having an adverse impact on the environment. Data centers are noted to use copious amounts of electricity and have often been affronted by environmentalists.
Many data centers, by design, waste vast amounts of energy. Research by the Times shows that many data centers, by running at full capacity, waste about 90% of the electricity they pull off the grid. Furthermore, to guard against power failure, they rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust, causing pollution. Data centers use about 30 billion watts of electricity world over, and this is roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants!
A viable solution is “green data centers.” Going green requires many fundamental changes, with the underlying concept of having a minimal impact on the extremely sensitive environment in which the data center is located.
- Many data centers “go green” by adopting low carbon technologies to boost the energy efficiency of data center buildings. These low carbon technologies include installation of solar panels wherever feasible, devising ways to capture and store the emitted carbon, deploying more sustainable cooling and powering technologies, adopting a modular design to activate components only based on demand and more.
- Of late, many data centers are innovating their spaces to reduce electricity consumption and maximize the use of recycled materials.
- Green data centers incorporate environmentally friendly designs in the architecture of the building as well. While there is no formal “green” benchmark rating in place for data centers, most countries have green code for buildings, which many data centers adopt. The extent to which data centers have included these standards is an indication of the extent to which they have gone green.
Data centers that want to remain in business have no option but to start going green. It is a win-win proposition for them; not only does it allow them to attract more clients, they gain on their operating efficiency as well.
Lifeline Data Centers is a green data center, and we are consistently making upgrades to decrease our carbon footprint. We have a white membrane roof, we capture and reuse our water, have very efficient HVAC systems and we oversize wire to reduce KW/hr usage. Schedule a tour of our campus to learn more.
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Every data center has to face the reality of software compliance audits. This can be a nightmare for set ups with an array of enterprise and open source software running together. For smaller shops, this is can be a relatively easy exercise, but it still requires time and effort.
Software Asset Management is the practice of using automated tools to track all aspects of the software in the enterprise. What appears to be simple can actually take a sophisticated data center nearly five years to seamlessly implement. True, the reports and the dashboards look impressive at first, but, sometimes, the detailed effort and inputs needed to prepare them are hidden at the time of purchase. The cost benefit factor needs to be considered carefully when investing in a software asset management tool.
Simple data centers can also take as much as two years to implement a basic asset tracking system in Excel. The recommendation is to have a basic system in place, which will reveal the ground work needed before jumping in for an expensive automated tool. A further step to implementing an Excel system is to use a Configuration Management Database (CMDB), which brings in more discipline to the change management process.
An example of a highly automated software asset management system is the IBM® Endpoint Manager. This product was used recently by an enterprise to evaluate software licenses across 67 data centers, covering both laptop and desktop installations. The result led to the company closing gaps in software compliance vulnerabilities, bringing down its total non-compliance costs from six figures to a low of $7,000. As part of the next generation wave, IBM also plans on using an app store, similar to Google and Apple. The concept involves a decentralized view on software asset management where users will directly login to the app store and request for software downloads. The app store will hold licensing information and will allow for download only if the license is available.
At Lifeline, we have developed a seamless process and incorporated the tools we need to do our jobs effectively. To check out our setup, schedule a tour at Lifeline today.
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In a recent survey of the best software for data and backup applications, there were a few clear winners. The survey was conducted by leading publication TechTarget, for determining the recipients of their ninth annual Quality Awards in this category. In the category of enterprise backup applications, Asigra ranked first with an impressive overall score of 6.38 points. Asigra’s software is used primarily for backup in enterprise data centers and also backup software for cloud services. Other winners in the enterprise backup software category were as follows:
- EMC NetWorker with a rating of 5.78
- CommVault Simpana with a rating of 5.75
- HP Data Protector with a rating of 5.72
- Symantec NetBackup with a rating of 5.68.
One of the significant distinguishing factors that led to the phenomenal ratings for Asigra and CommVault were the impeccable performance of their sales teams. The ratings were based on the knowledge of sales support teams and how well sales representatives understood the business of the customers. Ease of installation and configuration, along with the good value for the money, also contributed to Asigra’s winning ratings. Product features, such as file system backup, database backup and management features give Asigra a rating of 6.82 for Enterprise features.
The other category of awards was in the midrange backup and recovery products. The clear winner in this category was Veeam. Veeam had an average rating of 6.3 in the five rating categories. Again, like Asigra, Veeam also stood out because of the competency of their sales force and also particularly in the value proposition behind their licensing formula. Other winners in the midrange products were as follows:
- EMC Avamar with a rating of 5.77
- BarracudaWare Yosemite Server Backup with a rating of 5.68
Like the user’s survey revealed, an excellent product always stands out from the rest of the crowd. Factors such as product reliability, value for money, range of features, sales support and technical support are the key factors that are used by the user community to evaluate products. It was incredible to note that Asigra got a 93% buy-again score from its existing users. Similarly, Veeam had a 94% repeat purchase score.
At Lifeline, we only use the best products to support our data center infrastructure. Schedule a tour with us today to learn more.
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There’s a new wave of technology that is set to invade our lives called the Internet of Things (IoT). With the expectations and opportunities innovation brings, there are plenty of challenges, too. The biggest challenge the IoT wave will bring along is storing the huge amounts of data that is guaranteed to be generated. At the forefront of tackling this issue is the trusty lieutenants of the tech and business world – data centers.
The core IoT challenges for data centers
Data centers have promising projects linked to the deployment of the IoT, and, of course, there’s a long list of challenges, too. Here are the most prominent challenges facing data centers in the IoT revolution:
- Storage: Gartner predicts that IoT numbers will reach 26 billion units by the year 2020. This, of course, translates into revenue in excess of $300 billion for all those associated with the technology. It also means mammoth amounts of data and the need to store them. Data centers will be primary resources responsible for the storage of this data, but they’ll need to figure a good way to scale with that amount.
- Investments: Getting ready for the barrage of data requires data centers to invest in additional infrastructure, ranging from new server technologies to other necessary groundwork. This means more money.
- Network: IoT will transfer significant amounts of data to a data center, data that will need to be stored and processed. The bandwidth capabilities of a data center will therefore require a massive transformation compared to current standards.
- Capacity planning: Data centers today handle their capacity planning on fairly simpler levels. The dynamic nature of IoT data will bring with it complexity and automated tools will need to be put into action.
- Protecting consumers: The term data and everything associated with it are in the eye of the storm today. Privacy concerns are a worrying aspect of technology and, with the IoT wave, this element is only going to be under more inspection. Data centers will have to comprehensively tackle the possibility of breaches.
At Lifeline Data Centers, we keep a keen eye on developing technologies and the opportunities they bring. This enables us to expand our own business and infrastructural boundaries, too. We have foreseen the IoT revolution and the challenges it will bring, and are equipped to handle them well, offering comprehensive solutions to our clientele. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities.
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Compliance with PCI Security Standards is crucial for any organization looking to conduct online credit card transactions. In today’s tech-centric world where customers increasingly prefer the convenience of online shopping to the hassles of visiting brick and mortar stores, organizations that take PCI DSS compliance lightly have a death wish.
Until recently, the target of PCI’s compliance efforts was on the merchant, with the relationship between the merchant and a third-party service provider not clearly defined. The burden was on the merchant to ensure that their third-party providers complied with PCI DSS requirements. However, the PCI Security Standards Council has now released a new information supplement geared towards third-party providers, including data centers. This supplement offers a framework for a security assurance program to ensure that third-party service providers avoid data breaches and keep payment data secure, and they can meet PCI DSS requirements.
This new supplement, titled “Third-Party Security Assurance Information Supplement,” does not have any new compliance requirements. It is rather an expansion of guidance, specifying the policies and measures already in force which third-party providers have to incorporate. The supplement specifically lists how companies can comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requirement 12.8, and it walks through various types of issues, such as how to determine scope, how to ensure due diligence in the relationship, how to establish a good relationship with service providers and more. The supplement also guides merchants to craft detailed written agreements when outsourcing, making sure that all parties are aware of their obligations.
This new supplement, with inputs from over 160 organizations that are a part of the council’s Special Interest Group (SIG), should go a long way in helping merchants and third parties handling cardholder data understand their security roles and responsibilities. It will also help merchants vet third-party providers better before establishing business relationships with them.
PCI-DSS is a set of pragmatic best practices relating to data protection, network security, encryption, access control, monitoring, testing, policy development and more, all furthering the security of any organization. Organizations and data centers would do well to implement the specifications of these practices, even without the compliance requirement.
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Going green is a consideration for every data center today. “Green” data centers are designed to have minimal impact on the extremely sensitive ecology of the earth, and they harness the forces of nature, such as solar power or chill to cool servers, to minimize their carbon footprints.
Generally, people think the need to go green is due to an increasing awareness of environmental issues, fueled by the critical state of the earth’s ecology. While this is indeed a good reason, the need to go green in inspired by many other commercial reasons, including:
- Many organizations buying data center services have become more aware of green operations and demand that their data centers follow these practices as well. Large organizations usually have written environmental policies influenced by their corporate social responsibility or statutory obligations, which they like to be echoed in their buying decisions. These organizations only opt for data centers that allow them to fulfill their “green” commitment.
- Going green comes with incentives as well, which help not only the data center, but the local economy. The UK government, for instance, offers tax relief for purchases of equipment with a coefficient of performance (COP) better than 3.0, depending on configuration. Data centers that review and replace equipment to keep up these thresholds can reap rich tax benefits.
- Green data centers are becoming a sound business proposition. Green concepts, such as Lean and Six Sigma, focus on eliminating waste and improving efficiency. This offers greater savings, which can improve the bottom-line and be passed on to customers in the form of a price advantage, which is important in an increasingly competitive business environment.
- Most green data centers incorporate innovations in their design to reduce energy usage, maximize the use of recycled materials to reduce costs and use state-of-the-art energy efficient equipment. A green data center roughly consumes about 50% less energy than a conventional data center.
A study by Stanford University, Northwestern University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers estimates that the use of state-of-the-art equipment can help data centers reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80%. Another study by IO estimates that modular data centers, a common approach to green data center design, offer 19% energy savings and 44% energy waste reduction compared to conventional data centers.
All factors considered, going green may no longer be a matter of choice. It is becoming a business necessity. At Lifeline Data Centers, we are dedicated to making our operations as energy efficient as possible. To learn more, schedule a tour of our facilities today.