Data Centres – a Weak Link in Counter Terrorism?


Data Centres

By Angela Toh

Many organisations have taken constructive action against terrorist attacks, through security screening, surveillance analytics, target hardening for buildings, and a host of other measures. However, a weak link remains among many. Data centres.

For government and private organisations, data centres are absolutely mission critical. The facility comprises mainframes, application systems, communication networks and data archiving systems. Data centres vary from Tier 1 – occupying one room with only a few servers, to enterprise-level, Tier 4 – mission-critical facilities taking up entire buildings with thousands of servers.

Utmost Mission Criticality – Is there a blind side?

Data centre uptime availability may need to be as high as 99.995% of the time. This translates to a miniscule 26.28 minutes per year of down time! Such facilities have multiple fault tolerant redundancies as backups for continued operations. Yet, a single bomb blast could render all these redundancies irrelevant! If there is no blast protection.

An entire system can come become inoperable when a critical hardware or software component is damaged or malfunctions. Even built-in redundancies to overcome sources of failure should have blast mitigation measures. A datacentre without blast protection may experience multiple points of failure, through power, Heating Ventilation and Air Con (HVAC), connectivity, hardware or software malfunction or failure.

Aggravated Down Time

Down time for blast impacted data centres can range from 2 to 6 months, depending on what gets hit.

Disruptions to data centres can lead to loss of confidence in a government or financial institutions. Or worse, a loss of customers owing to lack of system availability; denied access to online services, withdrawals or transactions; and huge legal suits from institutional clients. When the psychological trauma of a terrorist strike combines with denial of access to customer facilities, the chaos and panic is hard to envisage! Business or institutional costs can become astronomical.

Proactive Risk Management

When designing or planning a mission critical facility, every potential threat must be identified with solutions and costs evaluated. Get a vendor who is able to do value engineering, to help manage costs without compromising performance. Retrofitting after the building is done will cost considerably more.

Huge glass facades which adorn many beautiful, contemporary buildings, expose internal rooms to various degrees of blast risks. If data centres are behind the glass, the glass needs to be protected. Data centres need to do Blast Effects Analysis to determine their risk levels and put in place mitigation measures like blast doors, reinforced concrete walls, and blast windows as needed.

Recovery of lost critical data creates downtime and expensive customer and staff disruptions. Facility managers and security experts should work with architects to determine location of doors or windows to reduce exposure. Blast doors are needed especially when mail rooms are located next to data centres.

So what can data centres do? Given the innumerate tasks and urgent schedules of data centres, it would be easier to work with a blast mitigation expert with chain wide expertise in blast simulation, blast testing, fabrication and installation. Such vendors provide seamless design, execution and on-site problem solving which determine robustness of installations, and actual performance in a blast. ENERZORB blast mitigation specialist answers this need.

ENERZORB Risk Solutions

ENERZORB, a patented, world class blast mitigation system supports datacentres with expert, discerning advice to manage various risk levels faced. Peace of mind comes with their regional track record covering financial institutions, MNC regional HQs, government buildings, and key infrastructure. ENERZORB supports data centres and building owners with:

  • Blast Effects Analysis
  • Avoidance of Progressive Collapse
  • Reduction of flying debris
  • Siting of critical zones to beat blasts
  • Innovative solutions to blast mitigate retrofit buildings, to avoid expensive structural work
  • Value engineering for optimum solution which empower budgets and design
  • Blast mitigation of doors, concrete walls and windows

Patented Dynamic Energy Absorption Mullion (EAM) System

The proprietary patented Enerzorb EAM (Energy-Absorbing Mullion system) protects against blasts up to 400 psi-ms. The highest possible rating with existing technology for windows. It employs a dynamic blast mitigation system to absorb, diffuse and transfer blast energy away from the impact area. The film treated glass and sealant-filled space between laminated glass panels prevents debris and injuries.

“Rated top three in the world, our energy absorption system greatly reduces blast pressure which can prevent servers from being sucked out of the room during negative pressure phase of a blast. Our proven R&D backed solutions are “live” blast tested with top ratings from GSA, ISO and ASTM tests in the US.” said Angela Toh, CEO of AJA Enterprises, owner of the ENERZORB trade mark.

Enerzorb extends the performance bracket for new builds. EAM systems enable blast mitigation for entire curtain walls and facades (beyond heights of 5 metres). Able to protect large glass panels (eg. exceeding 5 metres x 2.4 metres in a single pane).

Blast Doors take the Hit for your Servers

ENERZORB design and engineering deliver lighter doors with heavy weight performance. It uses dynamic elastic-plastic designs and materials, to absorb and transfer impact to reinforced door, frames and anchors. Controlled deformation of the door enables it to continue functioning after a blast. ENERZORB doors safely shield people, while the system works to prevent dangerous door rebound during a blast.

“The doors remain operable, allowing for safe escape of occupants or re-entry for Disaster Recovery operations. Hence, saving precious time to achieve Business Recovery Time Objectives, and rapid resumption of operations. In addition, the blast doors can be double-sealed against smoke and water to cover multiple risks for additional protection of people and equipment,“ said Angela Toh.