by Angela Di Stasio, Marketing Specialist, IPC
Data capture. Data archiving. Data retrieval and analytics. Our clients are telling us that there is a need in the industry for more and better data management. Compliance requirements mean data centers are more critical than ever to our industry, and are playing an important role in transforming it. Data centers continue to be a valuable, neutral meeting place and nerve center for the financial markets. This made the recent tour of one of these facilities – used by IPC – in a network of such centers supporting the global financial community a most enlightening and educational experience.
Data centers provide market participants with the ability to connect and execute trades, reducing latency and ultimately lowering transaction costs. This interconnection enables trading to happen in a closed environment rather than over the open internet, adding an extra layer of security. That was the first key take-away from my data center tour. Security is first and foremost.
The endless security measures in place at the facility made it obvious just how important and secure the site is; security measures such as single-person access and mantrap systems allow only authorized individuals to enter the data center. The countless cameras and multiple levels of hand scanners only heightened the awareness for security.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and thorough. He explained how essentially the job of each employee at the center is to “keep the lights on” and make sure everything is running 24/7/365 for IPC’s customers.
The second key data center take-away: reliability. The facility is built at 11 feet above sea level to surpass the 100-year flood level in the area and avoid any issues if there were to be a flood. The buildings are non-descriptive as to not draw attention and avoid attacks on the facilities from outsiders. The two rows of metal and concrete pillars, which extend 30 feet deep into the ground, outside of the building serve to stop any attackers from driving a vehicle through the building. Most data centers are situated in areas where a potential attacker cannot gain momentum down the street and crash the site.
I got to see the battery room, cooling equipment and very large diesel generators. Eighteen huge diesel generators to be exact; each capable of providing 2.5 megawatts of electricity, to supply emergency backup power during utility outages. Within the data center, block batteries ensure that all operating applications can run for approximately 30 minutes in the event of blackout. This backup system makes it possible to provide power from the time a utility company experiences a total blackout to the time that the diesel generators start up.
During Superstorm Sandy, in 2012, these massive engines kept this New York area data center online for more than a week as the region struggled with widespread utility downtime. First, the battery backup kicked in for about 30 minutes, and then the facility switched to generator power. The facility had more than 120,000 gallons of diesel on hand in addition to regional, out of state, and national providers of fuel if needed. If they had been unable to get fuel in the area, it could have then be brought in from other unaffected states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Texas.
Periodically, tests are run to make sure the generators are functioning and working properly and can kick on in the event of an emergency. Once per year the center does a “pull the plug” test to simulate a complete failure to ensure that all measures kick in and perform as expected.
Security and reliability are paramount for IPC and its customers and for all other customers of the data center. As more and more markets emerge, as more and more connectivity is created, as the number of capital market participants grows and the deluge of data that must be retained continues, clients tell us that the vital and well-run operation of such centers is important to their success.