White coffee cup with black coffee spilling out of it.

Coffee catastrophe in the server room

April 05 2019 Marten Bütow

Simon, our intern, is looking for his coffee cup – has anybody seen it?”

“Boss, our website is down.”

It is the job of every good investigator to put together the pieces of the puzzle to identify the culprit and reconstruct the crime. Can you find the solution to our case?

The tier 0 issue

Sometimes servers are placed in a storeroom, a first aid area, or simply where there is some space. This happens in order to solve issues practically and bring services online (or to the company) quickly – and that’s not just at small and medium-sized companies. Unfortunately, such provisional arrangements – as many of us can attest – end up being permanent.

There’s nothing wrong with it in principle, but when the cleaner knocks over the hardware while putting away the cleaning supplies or an intern shown around the company sets their coffee cup on the server without thinking and knocks it over later on, there are consequences for the company’s digital footprint.

Such a thing would naturally never really happen in a European company and when a server fails, it doesn’t always have to mean critical losses for a company. When your self-hosted online shop or telephone system is down, it’s still an annoyance – and incurs additional costs. Of course, it isn’t always “attacks from within”, it could be a power failure thanks to a building site or lightning strike in the area or a burst pipe – there’s nothing much you can do about it.

“Now tell me, what are you doing about data security?”

Having control over your own servers also means taking responsibility and precautions yourself – especially nowadays with the GDPR. Those who want to play it safe are investing in their own separate, secured server rooms. That’s where the calculations begin. Are your servers or the services on it so important to your company that they warrant such an investment? Is IT even fundamental to our added value?

While the main solution, moving over to the cloud, is not yet a done deal within a company and they are still maintaining and operating their own servers (the make approach), the use of colocation services is a good alternative that means those responsible for IT can sleep easy.

Benefits of colocation services in a tier 3 data center

Transferring to a tier 3 data center offers a great number of advantages. Physical security (access protection, admittance control), as well as professional operations (fire zones, extinguishing systems, air conditioning for optimal room temperature) and not least, availability – tier 3 guarantees minimal availability of 99.82 percent over the course of five years (backup power supply and marine diesel for their own power supply). All in all, the service is unavailable for 1.6 hours per year at most. This means that intern coffee catastrophes, cleaning incidents or power-outage disasters are effectively averted, as are any mishaps with network cables. The result is a high level of data security. Your server’s remote management, however, is not affected. If the machine does need to be turned on or off, the data center staff can take care of it.

Furthermore, professional data centers offer two additional benefits. They are generally connected to a broadband network – a good example of this being in Frankfurt. With one of Europe’s central internet exchange points, the city is very popular as a location for data centers. Modern data centers are also helpful in reducing a company’s carbon footprint. The current standard PUE (power usage effectiveness) is 1.3 (as opposed to 1.7 for older data centers). The data center in Biere, for example, attains this value with power consumption of just 2 kW/m2. Low power consumption is often a benefit of larger data centers with energy costs as one of the biggest cost drivers within a data center. Energy efficiency is therefore not just good for your environmental conscience, it also directly helps save on costs – with respect to older data centers and in your own operations.

Fulfilling legal regulations

Then there is the element of laws and compliance. Many regulations require that service operators take all necessary technical and organizational measures in order to secure their services. When processing financial or personal data, there are additional national and European regulations that apply for processing in Europe or in Germany. These regulations can be fulfilled effortlessly by using colocation services provided by a German data center. Since you manage the server yourself when using colocation services, the setup is suitable from a legal standpoint.

Having higher levels of data security and service availability while still having your own servers? Using colocation services by a professionally managed data center neatly resolves a number of different threat scenarios. Furthermore allows you to remain calm ahead of the next audit.

About the author

Marten Bütow

Solution Sales Manager, T-Systems International

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