Tag 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.

The definitive #IT checklist (for purchasing #server #racks)

canstockphoto20027517by TechRack Systems

Ever heard the phrase “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance?” This old expression is as true with server racks as it is with any other important company purchase. No matter what type of rack mount equipment is required for your installation—whether it be for a small business, medium-size office or large data center—the planning stage will be crucial for determining the right configuration requirements. To help guide you through the process, here are eight points to consider when you evaluate your needs and before you order:

#1 Determine the correct space/size for your server rack.
Measuring rack space is not the time (nor place) for guess-timates. Take the time to evaluate all of your IT equipment needs and know the exact dimensions of each component that will be housed in the server rack. Note: the inside dimension (usable space) of the server rack is what you have to work with. While the outside dimension (footprint) of a computer rack is NOT the usable space, it is important in deciding the placement of the rack

#2 Know the server lingo, local codes and infrastructure needs.
Familiarize yourself with the latest terminology of the server rack industry (The Techrack website is a good place to start). Research local codes in your city and state; infrastructure requirements, (such as power, A/C, space, sound, environmental factors); and corresponding load factors and construction of the computer cabinets, (such as static load capacity); whether you will need welded frames (which are stronger than knocked-down frames); and what material to choose (steel versus aluminum).

#3 Do thorough research on vendors.
Of course you’ll want to do business with a company that provides quality products, has competitive and fair pricing and has available products. Perhaps more importantly, verify that your supplier will provide excellent customer service before, during, and after your purchase. Insure your vendor has an extensive knowledge of server equipment and can partner with you to help make the best purchasing decisions for your requirements and budget.

#4 Get the right people involved in purchasing decisions.
It’s not as simple as just getting the purchasing department to place your order. That alone could lead to ordering an incorrect data rack size, leaving out accessories, and not providing all of the needs of the end user. Be sure to have your IT professional review and preferably place the order. Be sure to obtain pre-approval for the space allocation and expenditure for the server rack, even for the small equipment enclosures.

#5 Factor logistics into the delivery.
Consider all details of your product receiving situation: for instance, do you have a dock? Will you need a lift gate truck? Are there call notifications in place? Is the delivery going to a secure location: to a school, construction site or government facility? Is there an accurate phone number for the receiving party on delivery day? Providing the supplier with all relevant information for your company delivery process when you order will ensure smooth equipment delivery.

#6 Know your rack equipment’s specs.
It is critical to be very familiar with product certifications and any other information that could affect which server racks and cabinets should be ordered. These include: country of origin, seismic rating, and UL listing. Otherwise you run the risk of receiving a product that doesn’t meet required specifications. This is most important for government projects, as they usually have specific standards of certification.

#7 Don’t forget about customization.
When putting together your order requirements, also consider the customization options: color(s) you might want, air filtration needs, noise dampening requirements, casters, ventilation fans, cable management, shelving, and any security features that may be critical to include.

#8 Allow processing time for your order.
Once your configuration requirements are final and you have had a conversation with your vendor about the order details, make sure to allow, time to check the your specs, and have the vendor get back to you with a quote for the final landed cost and timeline.

Investing this time and effort during this pre-purchase phase helps you avoid unnecessary pitfalls along the way. For a personal evaluation of your computer server rack needs, visit www.techrack.com or contact: sales@techrack.com / 888-266-3577.

Computer Server Industry Changes: What Do IT Professionals Need to Know?

Hardware and Data Securityby TechRack Systems

“Change happens.” The server industry is no stranger to this fact after experiencing decades of computing growth, new technologies, and evolving company business practices. As these shifts continue to transform the industry, there are four key areas that affect the way servers are purchased and used for data storage today.

High Security Concerns: Hacking and cyber-crimes, such as employee data theft and identity theft, are front and center and a real threat to companies of all sizes and in all industries. It means that there is a need to secure both the physical computing assets and the data itself. To respond to the alarming rise in all types of computing theft, there are numerous physical and tech-driven devices available to keep out intruders, including secured server cabinet racks, USB port locks, cage and data storage room locks, and biometric identification devices. We can anticipate the arrival of more security devices as well, as hackers and thieves continue to plague the industry, particularly around cyber-crimes.

Increased Laws and Mandates: Each year, a growing number of city, state, and federal codes, and ordinances are used to regulate the data privacy of individuals. With the proliferation of computing devices and wireless communications, there is an increased desire to protect citizen’s rights, whether through government-mandated HIPAA requirements for medical records, or to secure data that is used by the financial industry. Every business that deals with regulated data—from small offices to those with large data centers—is responsible for knowing and following these regulations. Breaking these laws can result in fines and other penalties, as well as the possibility of class-action lawsuits when data has been compromised.

Shrinking But Smarter Equipment: There was a time when huge mainframe computers were spread across entire buildings and took up the largest footprint within a company. That has changed significantly. Computing equipment is now much lighter, is more powerful, and can provide increased functionality with much less real estate. With that, there is more peripheral equipment in use these days, such as firewalls, touch panels, and telecom devices. For many businesses, this means using smaller server cabinets and storing them in out-of-the-way areas (under the desk, in corners, on walls etc.) For larger businesses, such as hospitals, computing power is likely decentralized in multiple areas with larger locking racks and the data may still be tied to one or more mainframes. Which leads to our final big change…

Cloud-Based Computing: A lot of companies are now operating in “the cloud.” It is by far, the biggest information and data storage shift, as many businesses are deploying cloud-based applications and software, and are utilizing this for data storage. For small companies, this can help reduce computer equipment; larger ones tend to benefit most, as they can decrease their on-site computing requirements and gain more flexibility, reduce costs, and increase scalability. Cloud computing also offers a good option for disaster recovery planning. Though cloud computing has its benefits, there are still concerns around security and safety that will need to be addressed.

These four changes—increased security needs, additional data privacy regulations, more compact computing equipment, and the rise of cloud-based computing—are continuing to shape the present and future of the computer server industry. Watch this blog for additional updates. For questions about how these trends impact your server rack and computer cabinet requirements, contact sales@techrack.com or our website (http://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.

Four Reasons for 4-Post Racks

4 post server rack       4-Post Server Racks 

by TechRack Systems

In TechRack’s last post we gave the 411 on 2-post racks, their features and customization options. This time, we’re all about 4-post racks: A steady workhorse, 4-post racks are the perfect match to organize typical servers and networking equipment in office or data center environments. 4-post racks are geared to support heavier weight loads and easily accommodate growing workspaces, as they are easily ganged together. The classic 4-post server rack provides lots of options to choose from.

As an economical alternative to an 4-Post server rack, one could utilize a Rack-to-Frame Conversion Kit, which uses adjustable horizontal braces to connect two relay racks together into a 4-post rack (Bonus: You can also use this conversion kit to secure any telco rack to the wall for added support).

Now, let’s begin with the basics: Typically, 4-post racks are left open or are used as the structural frame of server enclosures. They range in depth from 24” to 42”, and in usable rack space from 6U to 44U (12” – 84” overall height). A variety of styles are available, from small cabinets to large cabinets and wall mounted units (or you can even customize your own—more on this later). Let’s take a look at why 4-post racks dominate the industry:

1. Strength: While a knocked-down 2-post rack typically supports 750 lbs., evenly distributed, fully welded 4-Post server racks can handle more than double or triple that amount. Many options are available, such as the value cabinet, which can support up to 1,500 lbs; the corporate cabinet, which can store up to 2,000 lbs; and the enterprise cabinet, our strongest line, that can handle up to 2,500 lbs. Our fully welded units are Zone 4 seismic rated, UL Listed and made in the USA.

2. Flexibility: Think “out of the box” too for unusual or compact spaces. You might want to consider small floor racks, designed for free standing floor use (many sizes are suited to tabletops or under desks), ranging in height from 12″ to 36″ and in rack space from 6U to 18U. Or try wall mounted computer racks aimed at maximizing the wall space, with depths of 12”, 24”, and 30”; and outside heights of 24”, 36” and 48” respectively. (Note that these racks can fit all 19” rackmount equipment from most major manufacturers, including DELL, HP and others).

3. Customization: To get exactly what you want for your office or data center, opt to build your own cabinet configuration (in fact, you can come up with as many as you need). Techrack customers can take advantage of this unique service to support their specific configuration for their data systems, computers, servers, and telecom equipment. Choose from open 4-post racks to fully customizable server rack cabinets to fit any environment and requirements. As one example, if your situation requires partial ventilation, you can add a perforated door or a vented side panel.

4. Security: More than ever, security has become paramount in the data server market, with low-tech (as in locking doors) and high-tech solutions like biometric identification. Heavy-duty 4-post enclosures can provide protection and confidence to keep intruders out, thanks to features like fully welded steel frames and lockable doors, which are available in plexiglas and perforated metal, and also meet HIPAA and other potential security requirements.

To find about more about ordering a sturdy, versatile 4-post racks or enclosures, contact sales@techrack.com.

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