Over the past week we’ve been installing electronic locks on various cabinets in our data centre to allow keyless entry that also achieved two-factor authentication for access.

Sanity Technology electronic cabinet lock

This led me to thinking about Security in relation to data centres. Obviously the digital threat is a major one but often physical security is overlooked.

Bahnhof is renowned for being the most physically secure data centre in the world. Famous for hosting Wikileaks servers, this particular data centre is located in a former military command bunker 30 metres under Stockholm in Sweden. The main door is constructed of 20 inch thick steel and the data centre is said to be capable of withstanding a nuclear blast.


Recently I heard a story about Switch DC in Vegas being built with steel reinforced concrete walls and employing 24/7 fully armed guards driving Hummers.

Switch security

Obviously this kind of security is not common and rarely required even by larger organisations.

But all these physical layers of security are only effective if the technology providing authentication is up to the task. It’s typical of data centres to employ the following techniques:

  • CCTV recording over the whole data centre
  • Individual Swipe card access
  • Biometric access via either finger print or Iris Scan.
  • Electronic Cabinet locks.
  • Audit trails that log all entry/exit events.

Quite often these measures are employed together to create what’s called a “mantrap” which is effectively a small room with a door either side , allowing only one of the doors to be opened at a time and quite often using different security technology on either door.

Security in a data centre is something that can never be overlooked and as with most aspects of a data centre the security should be setup up to accommodate the types of customer you wish to house there, obviously if you want to host small personal websites armed security guards probably aren't a requirement however if you want to host the next Wikileaks you might need to start looking for an unused bunker.