In recent years, the data center business in the Philippines has increasingly come to the fore. This is not only because the services local data centers provide are fundamental to the success of many Philippine industries whose growth continues to make the country’s economy one of the current bright spots worldwide, but also because such services have a fundamental role to play as regards local disaster recovery – an area in which the country continues to fall short of international standards, as far too many of the recent disasters have shown.
The range of services provided by local data centers, some of the most prominent of which are run by telecommunications firms such as Globe Telecom, PLDT, and Eastern Telecom, focuses on secure data storage and transmission, as well as those services geared towards ensuring business continuity even during and after adverse conditions. This is a boon to firms and organizations whose success and very existence depend on their ability to continue to function despite unfavorable situations. The organizations that most frequently avail of such services include BPOs, ICTs, banks, and financial institutions; small and medium enterprises for which data security is a core concern, and government facilities as well.
Data centers, however, can do more than just provide assurance of continued operation. Many local firms are increasingly looking to solutions provided by data centers, including virtualization or the use of virtual instead of actual machines or computers to reduce the number of devices used, such as servers, computers, and so on. Adopting such solutions helps firms reduce expense and boost efficiency.
Given data centers’ clientele and the benefits these centers offer, it should come as no surprise that the local data center business is itself growing rapidly. Apolonio Salud, head of IT Infrastructure and Value-Added Services, Product Management, Business Products and Services, Globe Business, says that the local data center business is growing very rapidly due to the growing demand for the services it can provide.
We take a look at Globe’s MK2 data center, the newest of all its data centers, to see what it offers and how it can help its clients ensure their operations even in the harshest of disasters.
The Globe Telecom MK2 data center
Globe Business, the business arm of Globe Telecom, maintains a wide range of enterprise interconnectivity solutions, which includes mobile, broadband, and cloud-computing solutions. The data centers maintained by the company enable it to offer such solutions, making them fundamental to the company’s operations.
Globe’s data centers began operations in 2001 in different locations throughout Metro Manila and in two provinces, one in Luzon and another in the Visayas, in order to meet the needs of clients located there. The MK2 itself had its formal groundbreaking in October 2012, and soon afterwards was expanded in order to double its capacity and increase its ability to serve clients. This, says the company, makes it one of the largest data centers in the country to date.
The MK2 data center provides actual space where client equipment can reside, such as server racks and computers for those clients wishing to maintain onsite facilities. The center also maintains business continuity areas that can be rented out by clients in search of temporary occupancy due to fires, natural disasters and other occurrences having rendered their main facilities unviable.
The MK2 data center boasts physical safety features that help it safeguard its clients’ data and provide emergency assistance to help ensure business continuity. Globe employs people, facilities, equipment, policies, and procedures that ensure only customers and authorized personnel can gain physical access to the facility and its contents.
The center is located in a nondescript building to avoid attracting undue attention, and has a single point of entry. A concrete wall structure surrounds the computer rooms and core network equipment. The building itself is located far away from any identified fault lines to reduce the chance of earthquake damage and is also built atop a high foundation to protect it from floodwater.
The center’s security system comprises physical access control mechanisms, including door access systems such as proximity card readers and door contact sensors such as biometric hand keys. All rooms and offices in the data center are protected by various physical control mechanisms. Clients can request that areas where their equipment is located be fenced off in order to reduce security risk.
Employees, customers, and guests are issued identification cards that also function as proximity cards that help them gain access only to those areas they are supposed to be able to access. All ID cards are created within the facility itself and can be programmed with different levels of access, which can be revoked immediately even if said card is nowhere near a guard station.
Mantraps are employed to curtail physical access to high-security areas, and motion detectors track activity and movement in many key areas. Additionally, Globe also maintains a security force consisting of security guards stationed at all entrance and exit points in the facility, as well as a roving security force that secures the center 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
All customers benefit from access to the center’s redundant power supply, which ensures constant, steady power through connection to two separate power substations located in Makati. Should one power substation fail, the connection to the second can be activated. Additionally, the center also maintains its own powerful generator sets to ensure continuity of operations should both substation connections fail. Said generator sets are capable of running for days or weeks at a time to help support customers during disasters until regular power can be restored.
The center also maintains many features to stave off the risk of fires. Within work areas themselves, power and data cables are isolated via cable trays. State-of-the-art sensors and fire suppression systems are also in usage and are constantly tested to ensure viability.
In line with the premium Globe puts on data security, all Globe data centers have attained ISO certification, namely ISO 27001:2005 for Information Security and Management System (ISMS) and ISO 20000-1:2011 ITSMS. Annual audits are performed in line with said certifications, and also to constantly apply best practices and standard processes without which all the company’s physical security features would be insufficient.
Looking to the future
Globe Telecom, in recognition of the fact that more businesses and public services may be availing of its data-center services in the future, says that it is open to expanding future operations if and when the need arises. Additionally, it continues to enhance the survivability of its data centers; for instance, it is looking at the possibility of opening a backup site in North Luzon to help it further bolster its clients’ ability to function in the face of even the most severe disaster.