Considerations when Selecting Access Control for Data Centers

Headshot of Philip VernerBy Philip Verner, Strategic Sales Manager, EMEA for AMAG Technology

Data Centers play a crucial role in today’s digital age, serving as the backbone for storing and processing massive amounts of data. With the ever-increasing need for data security, physical security requirements for Data Centers have become more important.

In this blog, we will explore the physical security requirements, challenges, and solutions available for Data Centers with a specific focus on access control deployment throughout the Data Center facility.

Data Center security is often looked at in multiple layers with each layer having specific requirements to secure the facility from its outer periphery areas to the inner core. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘like peeling an onion’ with each layer having a different security requirement until you reach the core.

From the outer perimeter area where Fences, ANPR and Video would be deployed to the inner data entre floor containing the IT racks and cabinets, physical security such as access control can be the system that ties the full security solution together.

Below are some key physical security challenges and requirements that Data Centers need to consider.

An Integrated Approach

Integrations are key to making the overall solution work across the various layers of the Data Center. Deploying access control systems that integrate to a wide variety of technologies is essential to reduce security gaps. Access Control and Video integrations are the obvious examples widely deployed but also having integrations with ANPR, Visitor Management, Lock systems, Intercom and much more ensures that all the systems work together to maintain the security and operations of the Data Center throughout all the security layers.

Area Access

Implementing the right level of access to each area is critical. A basic tenet of access control is giving permission to areas and it is important this is part of the onboarding process and ongoing card management to ensure cardholders only have access to the areas needed.

Utilizing an Identity Management System such as Symmetry™ CONNECT ensures that cardholders only get access to the right areas with authorizations from various departments (HR, IT, Security, etc) in a digitized and integrated manner. Any access permission changes and offboarding when cardholders leave the facility is also managed by the Identity Management system as per pre-set processes as per the facilities requirements. This ensures the various departments are not working in silos and the chances of human error, for example, when a cardholder leaves but their card and access is not properly offboarded from the access control system, is prevented by using an Identity Management system and workflow.


Starting with the entrance area, adding turnstiles to prevent tailgating and facial or fingerprint biometrics for two-factor (card plus biometric) authentication ensures those entering the facility have the relevant access permissions.Within the facility further processes can be implemented to prevent tailgating such as using the access control system to provide airlocks to control movement into higher security areas ensuring only authorized people gain access.

Installing readers on Server racks in the inner Data Center floor can also be linked to the cardholder first using their card at the entrance area ensuring relevant check-in procedures have been followed.

Management of Visitors and Contractors

Data Centers will have various visitors to their sites whether it be staff from other locations, clients or potential clients and contractors who require access to the facility. A visitor management system such as Symmetry™ GUEST will improve the visitor experience, and it will greatly enhance overall security by managing all visitor access to meet onsite security requirements and policies. Visitor details can be tailored by location providing visit information, requesting pre-visit information to be completed, running background checks and much more. An integration to the onsite access control system ensures all data is captured for future reporting and the visitors’ access permissions are managed in the required way.

Insider Threats

One of the biggest security challenges a Data Center faces, whether it’s a Tier 1 or Tier 4, is insider threats. This can be caused through accidental or malicious activity and physical access control systems can play an important part in managing this threat.

Implementing systems with Analytics that can build a risk profile of cardholders and track their movement to report on anomalous activity and movements can assist the physical and cyber security teams to prevent data breaches as part of a wider security plan including audits and staff training to prevent insider issues.

Multi-Site Access Management

Data Center companies often deploy across multi-site campuses and as an organization grows across many countries many are deploying worldwide. Having a standardized approach to their security solutions can ensure an easier deployment on new sites and ongoing operational support.

Working with suppliers that have a global reach with certified partners that can assist to deliver the solution and importantly provide ongoing support and maintenance of the software and hardware is an important aspect of deploying the right systems for their global solutions.

In conclusion, Data Centers must implement the right physical security system as part of a wider security strategy to protect sensitive information and maintain the integrity of their operations. By implementing an integrated security approach with access control, video surveillance and other security solutions, Data Centers can address their physical security requirements across their facility. However, challenges like insider threats and cyber-attacks require continuous monitoring and proactive measures to ensure the security and availability of the Data Center infrastructure.

AMAG Technology supplies its solutions to some of the world’s largest Data Center clients for their global sites. Contact us if you would like to further discuss Data Center security requirements and how we can assist.

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