Integrating physical security at the rack level
inside the data center
Steve Spatig, General Manager, Electronic Access Solutions
As strict enforcement of data protection reg- ulations continues, data centers require an
increased level of physical security in order to
ensure full compliance and avoid costly penalties. Protecting
assets within the data center is a crucial aspect of the overall se-
curity system, from perimeter security down to the rack level.
Physical security is critical to the protection of electronics and telecommunications enclosures. Many data centers
focus security efforts on access control to the grounds, the
buildings, and the secure areas within. Once inside the
building, however, minimal physical security is often in
place to prevent unauthorized access to the enclosures that
store valuable equipment and data.
Intelligent electronic locks offer an extra layer of access
to existing physical security solutions when integrated into
datacom enclosures. When combined with a building’s existing security system, rack-level electronic locks create one
cohesive security network that can be used across the data
center to control access.
Data center security systems generally focus on physical
access to the perimeter, building, and server room entrances.
Entry to the grounds and buildings are monitored and recorded, and once inside, access to the server room is restricted to
a set number of individuals who must verify their identities
with designated RFID cards or biometrics.
Within this typical security framework, one aspect is often
overlooked — the security measures taken once an individual
enters the server room. For complete physical security, server
enclosures require the same level of physical security used to
control access to the data center. Verifying credentials at the
rack level can prevent costly data breaches and compliance
penalties, especially for co-location centers housing many
cabinets that store data for multiple organizations.
Electronic access solutions work with existing user credentials to keep server racks secure and offer access reporting options. A complete solution, which includes an access
control or input device, an electromechanical lock, or latch
and remote monitoring capabilities, can connect building
security and rack-level access though a simplified, flexible
Intelligent electronic locks are a key element of an
electronic access solution, restricting access through the
validation of user credentials. Selecting the appropriate
intelligent locking device is vital to overall operation, as the
entire security system is dependent upon the lock’s function. Optimum intelligent locking solutions not only require
the appropriate electronic signal to operate, but also provide
critical output signals for remotely monitoring the security
of the enclosure.
The access controller, or user interface, validates the user
credential and provides the appropriate signal to enable
access to the cabinet. Electronic locks can be integrated with
a variety of access control devices depending on the level of
protection needed and the requirements of the application.
Digital keypads and RFID proximity card readers for instance, can be used with an electronic lock, as can biometric
readers, and electronic key systems. Upon actuation, a digital record of activity can be created and archived for future
audit trail reporting. Visual indicators or audible alarms
should also be provided for local alerts.
When selecting an electronic access solution for rack-level
access, the requirements and capabilities of the data center’s
existing security system or infrastructure must be evalu-
ated to ensure seamless integration. Depending on
the needs of the system, electronic access solutions
can range from a simple switch to a more advanced
software-based, networked access control system.
• Self-contained solutions are generally battery
operated and offer simple, drop-in installation and
programming to provide integrated access control
and electronic locking in a single, self-contained
device. These devices provide a simplified solution
to eliminate key management issues.
• Standalone solutions offer basic plug-and-play
access control without the need for software or net-
work administration but do not provide remote, networked
monitoring and control.
• Integrated solutions can be combined with building access
control and monitoring systems to incorporate cabinet-level
access control into existing security systems.
• Independent networked solutions can be used to monitor
and manage rack access across networks from a host computer
for remote system configuration, access control, and the monitoring of multiple access points. These systems can operate
independently of existing building security systems.
Incorporating electronic locks at the rack level enables
a variety of innovative access-control technologies, such
Figure 1. Integrated electronic access solutions can be combined with building access control and monitoring systems to incorporate cabinet level access control.
(Electronic Access Solutions)