Protecting Siemens’ golden nuggets

Today data are a company’s most important asset. When it comes to this important resource, Siemens doesn’t leave anything to chance – especially in its very own EAGLE DataCenter. The site in Munich is not only a model of best practice, but also a showcase for Siemens Building Technologies.

The definition of a factory is becoming blurred. In the past it was where things were made and value was created. Today, a data center can also be rightly referred to as a factory. Indeed, they’re considered to be the new factories of the 21st century, because data can be refined into actionable information and a competitive advantage. Siemens’ EAGLE DataCenter is one such factory. But so strategic is its significance that it is spread across four sites worldwide. Understandable, given what it contains: “Intellectual property, highly classified data – the company’s ‘golden nuggets,’ if you will – are stored there,” says Uli Kohler from the EAGLE DataCenter.

 

The site in Munich is housed in a non-descript building. On the outside, there’s no indication of what the building holds – no need to attract undue attention. The building features the latest in intrusion technologies. That’s because access to its servers is reserved for a select group of specialists. To enter, an employee first has to hold a special token over a reader, then the palm of his or her hand is scanned. Only then do the doors open. A scene from a science-fiction film comes to mind. Powering this innovative entry system is SIPORT from Siemens Building Technologies.

 

SIPORT is a comprehensive and modular system that gives operators everything they need for access control and time management. For access control alone, a whole range of solutions are on offer: contactless readers operated with proximity ID cards, key tags, tokens or other types of transponders; keypads to enter a personal code for an extra level of security; facial, fingerprint or palm-vein biometric recognition; or the use of mobile devices equipped with near field communication (NFC) to open doors.

 

The SIPORT portfolio has elements for recording clock-in times – as well as the capability to read the license plates of cars entering a site. Employees can even use SIPORT to reserve a meeting room. Thanks to its modularity, the system can be employed in just about any sector: airports, hospitals, manufacturing sites, pharmaceutical companies, universities, office complexes – and of course data centers. An intuitive interface ensures that the solution is easy to use.

No chance for fire

Intrusion protection is only one side of the coin for keeping data safe. The other very real danger is fire. The risk of fire is high considering the heavy power loads in data centers, the quantities of combustible materials, extensive cabling, and the high air velocity caused by cooling systems. And fires do happen: 6 percent of infrastructure failures in data centers are related to fire. The solution from Siemens Building Technologies to combat fire is based on a comprehensive system. At the EAGLE DataCenter, an early warning smoke detection alarm (VESDA) system is in place. If an alarm is triggered, gas is pumped into the building to reduce the oxygen content so that the fire is put out on the spot. “The gas poses no danger for people in the building,” notes Kohler. The system also automatically notifies the local fire department.

 

The other big issue in operating data centers is uptime. “Our internal goal is 100 percent uptime. In the five years the EAGLE DataCenter in Munich has been open, we’ve achieved that,” says Kohler. Here, redundancy is the watchword, and it applies to systems ranging from air-conditioning components to those managing the facility’s power supply. For example, if the facility’s electricity were to be cut off, a diesel engine would spring to life to supply the necessary power. The data center can operate for 48 hours on a tank of fuel.

 

Always up means electricity is constantly flowing into the data center. In fact, worldwide, data centers are responsible for 1.5 to 2 percent of all energy demand. But the Munich site is an exception, as its power comes from renewable sources and built-in efficiency. For instance, waste heat from the servers contributes to heating the building in the winter. The building itself was built to use as little energy as possible; for instance, it is equipped with a raised floor in the server rooms, which facilitates low-energy air-conditioning equipment. The servers are also configured so that energy consumption is as low as possible. The solution is based on Totally Integrated Power from Siemens Building Technologies. Together these efforts have helped contribute to the data center’s internationally recognized LEED Gold certification, which is issued by the U.S Green Building Council.

Model of excellence

To safeguard its flagship status, the facility is continuously evolving. “We do everything possible to keep our power consumption as low as possible. We therefore trace our power usage effectiveness (PUE) to ensure that our supporting systems are efficient. That means that when it is commercially reasonable to do so, we replace hardware with more energy efficient systems,” says Kohler.

 

Everyday, new data is added to Siemens’ treasure trove – data that is essential to the company’s operations as well as those of its customers. Today, all of Siemens’ EAGLE DataCenters collectively hold 8 Petabytes of data – that’s 8,000 Terabytes. The majority of the data is in the Munich facility, which now holds around 6 Petabytes. When it can hold no more, there’s room to construct a twin facility at the site. That will provide more space for one of the prized possessions of the 21st century: data. And a chance for Siemens Building Technologies to show what it is capable of.

Security is a priority. Therefore, SIPORT has been certified according to guidelines from the TÜViT certification body. In the next release, SIPORT will also fulfill requirements set down in Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, making it the world’s most secure commercial access system. For Siemens Building Technologies, the EAGLE DataCenter is a lighthouse project for SIPORT. But that’s just part of the story: in other disciplines too, technologies from Siemens Building Technologies have been integrated into Munich’s EAGLE DataCenter.

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