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What are data centres and can they keep my information safe?

You may have heard a lot of talk about data centres, but what actually are they, can they benefit your business and are they really secure enough to process and handle your data?

What is a data centre?

How Stuff Works define data centres as ‘centralised locations where computing and networking equipment is concentrated for the purpose of collecting, storing, processing, distributing or allowing access to large amounts of data.’

There are generally two types of data centre, internet facing or enterprise. Internet facing data centres, also known as external data centres, typically support fewer applications but are accessible by a larger number of individuals. However, enterprise, or internal, data centres will have fewer users but support more applications.

How do they work?

Also called server farms, data centres are rooms or buildings comprised of multiple servers that host a range of applications needed to keep a business running. These include collaboration services, file sharing, email networks, firewalls and databases.

Data centres can house vast amounts of servers, even into the thousands. According to datacenters.com the largest data centre in the world is in China at 6.3 million square feet in size, which is equal to 110 football pitches.

All physical servers and components are stored in one location allowing them to be connected by cables and maintained in one secure place.

Data centres connect all these services to the user locations, allowing access to specific data and platforms across a company.

With more and more businesses moving to digitalisation and cloud-based services, data centres are having to expand and incorporate more servers, therefore taking up more physical space. However, the rise of cloud networks has presented increased, international cyber security risks, leading many to question if accessing data this way is really the safest option for their business.

How reliable and secure are data centres?

Protecting a data centre is essential with many becoming physical targets for hackers and thieves.

Naturally, having an external data centre with all these assets in one location presents a security risk, to both the intangible data and the physical servers. While the data centre can deploy firewalls and security programmes to the end user, just how secure are data centres themselves?

Most data centres will have round the clock surveillance, with security personnel present at all times. They will be accessible to a select few people, which, at more advanced sites, will require fingerprint, voice or DNA authentication to access control systems.

Data security and external data centres

Using an external data centre means that the servers will have increased, specialised physical security as well as allowing greater flexibility and growth potential for your business.

This method, known as colocation, where businesses outsource to professionally managed data centres, has a number of benefits, including improved data security.

As well as installing your own firewalls, antivirus and protection programmes throughout your network, external data centres will have additional, specialist measures in place to protect its clients’ data. By outsourcing your data centre, your business will benefit from professional expertise in both data security, physical security and GDPR compliance.

In the same way that cloud accessible data centres centralise data and applications, they also centralise security programmes. Managing all these attributes from a central location means that all security protocols and programmes can be deployed across the entire network from the main source. Many are opting for a security information and event management system (SIEM) to run throughout the data centre, offering a real-time view into the data centre’s position as well as allowing control throughout the network of cyber security procedures.

If you’re thinking about using a data centre for your business, get in touch with a member of our team here for advice on how to ensure your data is safe.

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