Category Archives: Server Security

DATABLANCA

canstockphoto2944364“I Stick My Rack Out For Nobody.”

by TechRack Systems

It was a quiet night at the data center. The day shift was gone, and the house lights were out. Street lamps shone through the fog and across the desk of Rack Blanca, now slumped over a tangle of old cords, an empty glass by one hand, and a near-empty bottle by the other. At the sound of footsteps, Rack stirs, pours a drinks and knocks it back just as Sam, the night onsite engineer, walks in.

“Is that you, boss?” Sam says. Rack just looks at him, expressionless. The light of a passing truck sweeps the scene, and Rack reaches for the bottle in silence. Sam tries again. “Boss?”

“Yeah?”

“Ain’t you going to bed?”

Rack takes a swig. “Not right now.”

“Ain’t you planning on going to bed in the near future?”

“No!” Rack is clearly in a grim mood. Sam settles in and starts to fiddle with some equipment.

Rack hangs his head. “Of all the data centers in all the towns in all the world, she had to walk into mine.” Sam nods; Rack’s talking about the new manager, Ella. He figured she would show up sometime – after all, everyone comes to Rack’s.

“What’s that you’re doing?” Rack looks up at Sam.

“Oh nothing, just looking over some PUE data,” Sam shrugs, trying to seem casual, but really, this was something Ella asked for. Her job was to ensure the data center basics were all in place, and she was a stickler for power continuity and secure server enclosures. She’d been bugging Sam to ensure their UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) was solid.

“PUE. What’s that?”

Rack must be really drunk, Sam thinks. “C’mon, boss, you know – Power Usage Effectiveness. Don’t you want me to keep us running efficiently, and avoid brownouts, blackouts? Then I gotta measure our power usage. Anyway, that’s what Ella said…” Sam sees Rack wince, and knows he shouldn’t have mentioned Ella.

“Oh yeah? So you’re measuring power usage for her, huh? Well, now measure it for me. C’mon! I can take it. If she can be more efficient, I can!”

Sam shrugs again, and Rack’s thoughts drift back to earlier that afternoon, when Ella had suddenly showed up, in his private office, lowering the blinds. She said she wanted to talk security, and so he pretended to believe her, for old time’s sake.

First she started talking about cameras – how many security cameras did they have and in what locations. Maybe they should hire security guards. Didn’t he want to protect his data?

“Want to?” Rack had said. “Baby, I have to protect my data and lock my server cabinets. But it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of one little data center don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world…”

Some women were never satisfied; luckily she didn’t bother to bring up fingerprint and retinal scanners – she knew Rack’s was too low rent for that – but she really pressed him on the firewalls. “And I’m not talking those little boxes inside the computers,” she’d purred. “I mean, actual walls for preventing fires. Rack, can you give me that?”

Ella had looked around the place with a bit of distain. “What’s happened to this place? Sure, it’s always safer to keep a low profile – no reason to just let in anyone when you’ve got data to keep secure, but…” She ran her finger along a dusty air duct. “Can’t you at least keep the equipment running?”

Rack had only half listened as she talked about the sad state of his old HVAC. “Rack, we’ve got to optimize our environmental factors.” She never used to talk so fancy. “Keeping the cold rooms at 70 degrees, like in the old days…you don’t need to. Let’s bring the heat up to 80, and re-think server density, I bet we can reduce operational costs just by…”

Leave it to her to bring up the past, that very first data center they ever worked in together. Now that place had bad airflow management. Ella’s throat had always been dry, but that just made her sultry voice even better…back when she’d loved him…

Suddenly, a crash startles Rick awake. His bottle was in broken bits on the floor, and Sam was already grabbing a broom to sweep it up, singing a little tune to himself. “The world will always welcome data, as time goes by.”

Rack sits up. Sam was right. No need to dwell on the past. Rack turns back to the QuadAdjust 24” deep wire shelf unit he’d been installing before going off on that bender. It was a sweet piece of TechRack’s equipment, heavy duty chrome finish, perfect welds and able to hold a ton. Who needs women when you got equipment like this, he thought. Heck, it might just be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Top Five Ways To Save Money on Server Racks

spendsaveimage by TechRack Systems

Server racks contain the nuts and bolts of your business—literally!—and thus represent one of the most important purchases for your data center or office. To get the most value for your dollar, here are five ways to conserve cash when you’re evaluating server cabinets.

1. Measure Twice, Buy Once

Before doing anything, all components and computers should be measured to ensure they fit into the usable space of the server rack—not a ballpark estimate. There are important dimensions to consider:

  • The footprint of a server rack (the outside dimensions) is not the same as the usable inside dimensions, which are smaller by 3 to 6 inches.
  • Be sure to select, measure, and calculate all aspects of the proposed placement area for the server rack, and take into account any restrictions, codes, or door swing issues you might have.
  • Always leave at least 1U clearance (1.75″ between components for better airflow and heat dissipation). Never go to the max that you can squeeze into a server rack, it will end up costing you later. Which brings us to our next tip…

2. Shop For Quality, Not Just a Price Tag

As with any purchase, the value is only as good as its reliability. If it has to be repaired or replaced (or there is a lack of ability to do so), the low price was not worth the hassle and cost later. Some of the best cabinets are made in the U.S. with American steel. Look for racks that are made with fully welded frames versus those that are knocked down and assembled on-site. You’ll also want sturdy doors of carbon steel with all welded construction. In the end, spending a little more upfront for quality will save you later.

Here are some guidelines for computer cabinet specs to keep in mind:

  • With vertical mounting rails—12-gauge cold-rolled steel or heavier, with holes that
    meet EIA spacing
  • For 48” tall to 84” tall computer racks —carbon steel frames of at least 12 gauge
  • For full height cabinets—a static load rating of at least 2,000 lbs.
  • Small server racks between 6U and 18U—with fully welded sides, top, and bottom

3. Plan For Changes in the Future

A very small rack or a wall rack may be enough to hold all of your components for now, but what if your business grows this year? Or you hire more employees? What if you move to a different location with a new configuration? Any number of factors can affect data center and small office plans.

If you don’t consider the possibility of expansion (or moving), you might end up spending more money for future additions or replacements, not to mention potential freight and installation costs. But if you opt to buy a taller or deeper server rack from the beginning, it’s only slightly more costly than a smaller unit, which can save you money and more planning down the road.

4. Choose Full-featured Cabinets for Adaptability

Future considerations (and savings) don’t stop with size alone: Start factoring in all the “moving parts” now. To maximize floor space, consider cabinets with flush mounted side panels and doors, both top and bottom. Look for 24” wide cabinets, as they will likely match the widths of the floor tiles in the computer rooms where you plan to install them. If you have multiple components bayed together, consider cabinets that are joined by a top mount frame coupler with pre-drilled holes in the cabinet frames—this will avoid fix-it projects down the line (note: be sure that cage nuts or rack screws are included with your purchase).

Next priority is ventilation: Our top picks are cabinets with open bases to allow for a raised floor ventilation option. And check availability of solid or vented side panels, as well as optional split rear doors. To keep maintenance simple, look for field-reversible front and rear doors that don’t require tools to change the door swing.

Other potential elements that can save you down the line:

  • Capability to add up to 4 fans in the cabinet top
  • Cabinets that are seismic zone 4 rated and that are UL Listed
  • Cabinets with both seismic tie-downs and caster mount features as well as 4-point
    leveling

5. Don’t Forget Safe and Secure

None of the above factors matters if your cabinets are not secure and your data is lost or equipment is stolen. Take stock of your server cabinets with the following checklist:

  • Do your cabinets have lockable front and rear doors?
  • Are your side panels secured from the inside of the cabinet? Or do they have available locking, quick-release side panels?
  • Will your cabinet doors accommodate electronic, proximity, or combination locks?

Security is not something you want to scrimp on. The money you spend now far outweighs the issues you could have later.

For a personal evaluation of your computer server needs, contact sales@techrack.com, or visit our Website, www.techrack.com.

Data Storage and Data Privacy Rules, What Do I Need to Know?

Computer Data Security

Know the Laws for Data Privacy Before Buying Server Racks

by TechRack Systems

Did you know that there are many privacy rules that impact the way that you can store your data? This is important when evaluating options for large server racks and even small computer cabinet purchases. Many large organizations have an IT infrastructure and measures in place to safeguard these privacy rules. However, smaller businesses and offices often don’t have an IT department, so they may not be aware of these security requirements. Whether it’s government-mandated HIPAA laws that protect medical information, laws that oversee the financial industry, or government regulations that affect military contractors, knowing the rules will not only safeguard data, it will shield you from violating any applicable laws.

As a starting point, across the board for both online and off-line businesses, installations that are subject to confidential data requirements must keep their server racks and cabinets in either a locked room with limited access or in an enclosed space, or under lock and key in an open area. For both situations, only authorized personnel should be able to access this private data. Though it may seem “overly protective” in a one-person office, these laws mandate this regardless of the size of a business (and imagine if someone broke in and stole the computers).

So What Information Needs to Be Protected?

  • Medical: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, protects individually identifiable health information from being released against a patient’s will. This means personal medical data needs to be secured at all times, whether in an individual doctor’s office or a large hospital complex.
  • Military Contractors: Just as the U.S. government has strict regulations on handling sensitive data and classified material, military contractors are subjected to the same stringent requirements as an extension of the government. From office equipment logs to personnel records to matters of national security, the data must be in a physically secure storage area. (On a similar note, delivering server racks to both military installations and their government contractors can mean cutting through more red tape than deliveries to traditional, commercial locations. See more here from TechRack’s previous post.)
  • Financial Records: Banking regulations, acts of congress, and FTC consumer protections require that financial information be stored securely. These laws apply to any company hosting personal financial information: banks, brokerage companies, retirement planners, insurance companies, and those that provide credit scores, to name a few. Data protection has come under more scrutiny in recent years given the increased frequency of data breaches coupled with the rise of hackers. It also underscores the importance of starting off with a strong foundation to secure the physical data.

In addition to these rules and regulations, follow these common sense, practical guidelines when hosting confidential information in data servers and cabinets:

  • Store private data in work areas that are protected against damage from physical hazards, including fires, floods, and earthquakes
  • Ensure that your computer inventory levels are carefully monitored on a regular basis (and that backup measures are in place should a disaster occur)
  • Authorize the minimal number of employee access to restricted, secure storage areas
  • Make sure that you use USB Port Locks
  • Consider Security Wire Racks

To find out more about secure data storage options, check out our locking server and cabinet selection.

What Kind of Computer Server Rack Do I Need?

TechRackPhotoBlog3a   Rack ‘em Up! (For Your Data Center, That is)

by TechRack Systems

In our last post we discussed buying considerations for the most popular of data center equipment items—server cabinets—the enclosure itself. But what other structural items should you evaluate as part of your purchase? A perfect complement to large computer cabinets, and sometimes in place of them, are racks of various styles to accommodate a range of data server configurations: from open environments to secure areas, from those that require mobility of equipment to compact work spaces, and much more. The possibilities are endless.

These racks can handle diverse equipment such as servers, computers, monitors, telco devices, and keyboards. Understanding each type of rack will help determine which are the most appropriate for your data center or office space. Here are some considerations before buying:

Relay (Telco) Racks

Typically lightweight and sized for 19-inch rack mount equipment, these racks can also accommodate heavier telco equipment. They are available in a variety of sizes and in heights ranging from 24 to 45 rack spaces, depending on your requirements. Relay racks are typically used for mounting hubs, power backup, and rack mount servers. They can also be configured to create a 4-post rack by using adjustable horizontal braces to connect two relay racks together, so flexibility is built in.

Wire Racks (Stationary/Mobile/Security)

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to store heavy-duty equipment, chrome wire racks might be your solution. Available in stationary or mobile configurations, these racks  come in various heights, typically 63 or 74 inches in height, and in depths from 18 to 30 inches. Most open wire racks are used to store computers, but can store other data center equipment as well (note: TechRack’s heavier wire and robotically welded design renders them 25 percent stronger than the competitors).

Another type of wire rack is specifically designed for security. Security Carts are enclosed and used when storing or transporting items that can be a target for thievery. These racks come in several sizes as noted above (including a mini version).

Heavy Duty Server Racks

When it comes to managing your larger equipment set-up, heavy-duty server racks can be used in a vertical configuration for a variety of work areas. Comprised of strong steel, the shelves hold up to 450 pounds of load each and come in modular configurations, so multiple units can be connected together. Units are 78 inches high and the bottom rollout shelf is 26 inches deep (check out our photo gallery for ideas).

Work Center Units

These open work center units combine a storage area and integrated work surface to house equipment and serve as a workspace environment. They are pre-configured with a 36-inch work surface and a 26-inch-deep bottom rollout shelf. The best part is their flexibility: it is easy to create your own tailored configuration by adding or subtracting any component to the workstation (more ideas in our  concept  gallery).

Small Space Server Racks

For that small space in the office, or even in a closet, you might consider using a compact server rack. This is ideal for smaller data centers, tight office spaces and under the desk use.

A lot to think about? Yes. But having choices enables you to  find exactly what you need for your data center or office space.

Next up, we’ll discuss special requirements for your data center that could affect the equipment you purchase.

Image:  Copyright Can Stock Photo