Genetec & NEXTDC Partner on Data Centre Security

By Chris Cubbage, Executive Editor

As the world transitions to 5G networks and will continue on to 6G by around 2030, the role of data centres as part of national critical infrastructure will remain embedded. The business of building and delivering this infrastructure is a key challenge in terms of location, scale, installation, maintenance, competitive pricing and importantly, ensuring it is future proofed for the rapid advances in technology.

NEXTDC – Inner Rack Row, Hall A,, M2

Technology and its connectivity require hyperscale, second generation data centres, built much like multi-tenanted warehouses, serving as data storage and distribution hubs. As David Dzienciol, NEXTDC’s Chief Customer Officer described, “We’re what Westfield is for retail but we’re the Westfield of IT – providing the environment for IT trade”.

M2, Phase 1 , NEXTDC

During a facility site visit to NEXTDC’s Melbourne, M2 Phase 1 Data Centre, a short drive from Tullamarine airport, we got insight to how a modern, co-location data centre is being planned in phases, built in operational stages and then designed to function day-to-day, with a co-working, datacentre environment for hundreds of customers.

David Dzienciol highlighted, “Each hall contains 50 to 60 customers and in a multi-tiered relationship with complexity, created by multi cloud and hybrid environments, we may not know who the end customer is via third party relationships.”

The NEXTDC value proposition, and indeed the requirement for each of the company’s nine facilities across Australia is; power, connectivity and security. With a measured capacity target of 300mW, the company has amassed a current status of 50mW, with completion of Phase 2 of the M2 to take the facility to 40mW.

Customer and Visitor space

As at 30 June 2019, NEXTDC reported a financial year increase in contracted utilisations by over 30 percent to 52.5MW, customers increased over 20 per cent to 1,184 and interconnections were up over 25 per cent to just under 11,000 (10,972).

NEXTDC’s motto, ‘where the cloud lives’, adopts an inherent requirement to meet the Tier IV status set by the UTI Certification body, with a guarantee of 100 per cent uptime. The DC’s high-voltage power, received from the grid, is backed by Penske diesel engine generators for disaster recovery, capable of running for at least 48 hours onsite. NEXTDC provides connectivity with a Layer 2 portal, Axon Cloud, which on-ramps for performance, scaling and security, with inter-site connectivity, is carrier neutral and DC neutral.

Tier IV site infrastructure, building on Tier III, adds the concept of Fault Tolerance to the site infrastructure topology, meaning when individual equipment failures or distribution path interruptions occur, the effects are stopped short of IT operations.

Security is a key element

Entrance ACS Portals by Gunnebo

Alongside the power and connectivity, security is a key element of each facility. Security is not just at a data level but holistically includes physical access layers, with perimeter security and access controls applied in a ‘defence in depth’ approach, from the front gate, through to who has access to the individual racks in each of the halls. Physical security, video surveillance, access control, biometrics and visitor management all form a primary aspect of any DC.

At scale, NEXTDC manages over 2,400 video cameras across its nine sites, operating on Genetec’s Security Centre platform. Wrapped around a long term, strategic partnership with Genetec, video data storage is distributed across the network, with up to 519TB per site and cameras operating at resolutions up to 5 megapixels with all cameras recording continuously at 15 frames per second (FPS) for a minimum of 90 days.

MFA ACS Reader by HID

Launched in 2010, with the balance of experience and security, Genetec, HID, Gunnebo and Salesforce were selected to integrate to the Genetec Security Centre, powered by a scalable architecture that synchronises cameras, doors, access points and other managed hardware. The first install in 2011 progressed to working more collaboratively, and since 2014, NEXTDC operates Genetec as a client and partner, leveraging the Security Center Federation feature which allows for centralised monitoring, reporting and alarm management across all sites.

This approach offers security and customer service employees appropriate access to the video surveillance system, video analytics and reporting, access control, two factor authentication systems and intercoms, built on role-based protocols, as determined by NEXTDC. The applications include Omnicast video management, Synergis access control, plus API integration to intercoms and licence plate recognition testing. Each DC wants to improve on the last one and the focus remains on integrated security technology delivery.

George Dionisopoulos, NEXTDC’s Head of Security and Customer Service said, “The Federation feature links our entire national footprint, and means our team has the visibility and control we need to monitor our facilities effectively right across the country, protect against and prevent security breaches and ensure a secure environment. We can operate a streamlined team, yet provide assistance as required at any of our data centres, servicing our customers exceptionally, every time.”

HID Readers on each Rack

According to David Dzienciol, “Our customers’ needs continue to evolve, so it’s important we move with them. When it comes to access control in line with security standards, our customers are looking for auto approval and self-service. With the level of intelligence built into our security posture through the help of Genetec solutions, we have been able to reduce the number of ‘front of house’ and security staff that customers need to engage with each time they visit. This enables us to help our customers get to where they need to be, quickly and efficiently. With the support of Genetec, we can offer a frictionless experience that does not compromise on security.”

“NEXTDC is very forward-thinking, taking a broader view of physical security to derive additional return on its original security infrastructure investment,” confirmed Philippe Ouimette, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Genetec. “As an organisation, it understands the potential for leveraging its physical security systems and the Genetec Security Center platform. Not only to deliver on the promise of security to its customers, but importantly, to better its business operations and the overall customer experience.”

“Security should be driven more by intelligence and operations. The old way of thinking about security is outdated. NEXTDC views security not as a cost centre but as an enabler for the entire business. This creates a balance between a very high level of security for customer assurance but also for a customer wellbeing environment. Genetec looks at security as a method of providing a flow of people through a facility and NEXTDC seeks a frictionless customer experience and hence why our approach aligns.”

With three core pillars designed to uphold the Genetec portfolio, being operations efficiency, making sense of sensors and security of the security system, the Genetec platform allows open access to an ecosystem. Providing end to end encryption and advanced authentication, it operates as a unified, single platform, with a consistent user experience and federated multi-site and multi-system monitoring and reporting. This allows NEXTDC clients multi-site consistency, with many DC clients operating in different states.

The recent release in the USA of Genetec ClearID will allow for a visitor management system for physical identify and access management. ClearID is designed as a self-service physical identity and access management (PIAM) system that standardises and enforces security policies, to be made available globally in early 2020.

ClearID enables employees to login to an online portal and make access requests directly to the area owner or supervisor. Employees control their own access requests which ClearID automatically approves, denies, or routes on to an operator to review, based on corporate policies and automated workflows. Using a web portal, the employee (host) creates a profile for the visitor including the meeting details. The visitor in turn receives a confirmation email with a QR code that can be used to sign in once on site, print a badge and automatically advise the host of their arrival.

Other key functionality supports organisations in industries where they need to comply with strict access requirements. ClearID will simplify the auditing process by providing area owners with an instant view of who has access to their areas. This will allow them to revoke access, as well as simplify manual processes that can be time and resource intensive and prone to human error.

In future releases of ClearID, contractor management features will ensure that when access requests are initiated, approvals or denials are made prior to the contractor’s arrival based on the necessary qualifications, tests and steps of identity authentication required to grant access. This will support additional compliance with standards, and minimise costs associated with contractor wait times.

Additional Genetec products include Streamvault, regionalised for Australia, with a pre-installer and configured server and the Genetec Synergis IP controller for ACS and IDS.  Plus, a suite of intelligence products designed for applications in retail, airports, traffic control and across cities. Airport Sense provides intelligence reports and visualisation from airport systems such as parking, check-ins, retail outlets and baggage screening for an airport security and situational awareness dashboard. Another example is Citi-Graf, used by the City of Chicago, the second largest police district in the USA to improve response and crime prevention strategies and thereby contributing to a reduction in crime statistics.

NEXTDC reported 30 June 2019 revenue up 15 per cent to $179.3 million and underlying EBITDA up 13 per cent to $85.1 million. Strategic partnerships for the essential services around power, connectivity and security are clearly needed and in this case, working. In the ever-important pillar of security, Genetec is obviously proud of working with NEXTDC. in a cutting-edge environment, and each set to continue into the future.

MySecurity Media travelled to the NEXTDC M2 facility courtesy of Genetec.