UUNET integrates physical security with its existing management control system

September 2002 Integrated Solutions

UUNET SA is today the leading Internet-based service provider in southern Africa. One of UUNET’s core services is hosting and more and more businesses today are coming to the correct conclusion that self-hosting is not their business. They have realised that UUNET can make use of its specialised knowledge, the latest technology and its highly skilled professionals to ensure that corporate websites operate at peak performance on a 24/7 basis. Today, UUNET carries about 40% of the South African Internet traffic and this includes all of the M-Web traffic.

UUNET operates four of the most advanced data centres in Africa, these being strategically located in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Windhoek. The Flagship centre is the Johannesburg facility that is located in Gallo Manor. This purpose-designed centre went live in August last year and a similarly configured disaster recovery site already exists in Cape Town.

The new centre is equipped with a very generous amount of available bandwidth, has redundant airconditioning capability, contains secure cabinets for hosted equipment and has fully redundant UPSs and dual back-up generators (tested on a weekly basis). In addition to full fire protection the centre has been designed to withstand catastrophic disasters from flooding. The fire suppression system does not use water sprinklers but a nontoxic natural inert gas (Inergen), which will stop all fires without causing additional damage to electronic equipment. The centre is situated on Telkom's STM-1 ATM backbone with multiple redundant ports, and provides the highest connectivity per cabinet in South Africa. To ensure zero downtime Telkom has provided UUNET with dual fibre links to the two major exchanges in Johannesburg, these lines being laid on completely different routes.

Integrated security solution

Physical security for the data centre was of course of prime importance for UUNET. Remember that the customers lose physical control over their servers so they must have a very high level of confidence that their hardware and the data transferred through it must be very secure. As UUNET is not a physical security expert they used a consultant to help them draw up provisional requirements so that a tender document could be issued to the local security industry. This document of course specified the basics in terms of points to be monitored and controlled but provided certain freedom in terms of the overall solution.

The tender was ultimately awarded to AFS Systems who are the Authorised Value Added Reseller of the prestigious Lenel OnGuard hardware and software. Lenel Systems International, headquartered in Rochester, New York, is the world's leading provider of security software solutions for global enterprises in technology, transportation, finance, petrochemicals, communication, pharmaceuticals, government, education and manufacturing. With more than 5000 systems implemented in 50 countries, Lenel's OnGuard Total Security Knowledge Management Solutions have become the preferred choice for such security-conscious, IT-concentric multinational corporations organisations including Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon.com, e-Bay and many more. OnGuard's scalable and customisable open-architecture systems enable both remote (Internet) and on-site management of data security, premises security, ID management, alarm monitoring, physical asset management and digital surveillance video.

Although the formal tender was based on a conventional approach to security, Mike Smiles of AFS Systems and his team took a lateral approach to the requirement and offered a solution appropriate for the leading South African Internet services provider. Their aim was to offer a system that would serve as a foundation for further growth and would be suitable for integration into the UUNET network.

The conventional approach described in the tender was based on a physical access control system with an independent video management product recording on a continuous basis at very low frame rates. Storage time was therefore minimal and there was a need to maintain a dedicated 24/7 control room facility to provide continuous surveillance of the CCTV system consisting of 26 defined critical access points.

The AFS/Lenel solution involved the installation of a fully integrated access control and digital video system resident on UUNET's existing management control system, this existing fully networked system is crucial to the company's operations as it continuously monitors all critical parameters of the data centre. All faults recorded by this system are processed by software that prioritises and prompts a response, security thus becomes an additional feature of the management system. The advantages of utilising digital event-triggered cameras is the elimination of redundant data from continuous recording of camera inputs, the need for human surveillance and the significant savings in terms of provision of storage for the data.

Primary entry to and egress from the Gallo Manor facility is by means of proximity card access. A hand geometry system controls entry to the server room, access to this area is restricted to a limited number of personnel. Each access point is monitored by an event-driven digital camera triggered to record a video clip (with pre-alarm prior to the trigger) to the hard disk forming part of the integrated digital video system. Due to the high level of systems integration inherent within the Lenel OnGuard system the video clip is automatically attached to the alarm event on a single screen, this means that an operator merely need highlight the alarm and launch the video to see who or what caused the alarm, making analysis of the alarms and events extremely simple. The video management system can be configured to trigger on any event created within the system, this is not restricted to alarm events only, for example, an attempt at unauthorised entry to a door under CCTV surveillance can be configured to automatically create a video clip, this clip can then be displayed or played back at any operator workstation on the UUNET LAN/WAN. Any alarms triggered are responded to by the on-site armed guards who are on duty 24 hours a day. The system also provides the facility to monitor the location of all personnel inside the building at any time.

In the Gallo Manor installation there are approximately 50 cardreaders, 16 cameras and 32 monitored points installed, this is a relatively small system, however, the solution offered by AFS Systems using the Lenel OnGuard software is fully scalable and is therefore adaptable to meet the needs of the full spectrum of facilities from the smallest SME to the largest enterprise. The capabilities of the Lenel OnGuard software installed at UUNET are not fully utilised and the additional features can be implemented in future through the use of software keys without the necessity to replace the installed software. The system is fully expandable in terms of additional functionality and can be upgraded to incorporate ID badging, asset tracking and a variety of other features.

Greg Lock of UUNET is convinced that AFS Systems has delivered the ideal solution to the security problem. Whereas many security offerings today amount to the cobbling together of cameras and sensors from different manufacturers, AFS provided an integrated and professional solution. AFS worked together with UUNET to overcome the minor operational issues that occur with any new installation. Greg believes that the implemented integrated solution at UUNET will provide customers with the confidence that the management of their servers and data, including security, is at the highest possible level.

Phil Mailes of Lenel Systems commented, "The horsepower of the Lenel OnGuard suite of software together with the systems integration abilities of AFS and the IT-concentric nature of UUNET made this an ideal project to marry every players' skill sets and knowledge bases in order to provide the ideal solution."

For more information: UUNET, 011 235 6500, AFS Systems, 011 455 4115, Lenel, 0944 148 381 5230.

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