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Data centre security

Previous applications of the “Agent E Wireless” system have been installed in data centres of prestigious operators, ranging from banks to energy suppliers, and thus in vital infrastructures. However, the proven radio-based locking system is now celebrating its debut in a converted civil defence bunker, the Stollen Lucerne Data Centre. For the first time, EMKA’s solution is being combined with an iris scanner at the customer’s request.

Before entering Lucerne‘s civil defence bunker „open your wide eyes“

What added value can an aging bunker complex still offer in this day and age? This was the question energie wasser luzern (ewl) asked itself – talking about the old civil defence bunker in the Wartegg hill near Lucerne. The response: Here, the energy service provider built one of the most sophisticated data centres in Switzerland. Today, the Stollen Lucerne Data Centre boasts five major tunnels, each allocated 200 square metres for IT system hardware. In addition, there are eight auxiliary tunnels, referred to as Private Rooms, each allotted 50 to 100 square metres for IT system hardware. The CO2-neutral facility, operated by ewl Rechenzentrum AG, combines state-of-the-art technology with sustainability and an optimal connection to the communication and energy networks. 

To keep data stored on-site from unauthorised digital access, firewalls and complex encryption solutions are used by data centres. The same degree of security should be applied to physical access. The Stollen Luzern Data Centre already offers a high security standard because of its underground location. Additionally, the operators require the ability to monitor the activity of each individual at any given time in the various sections of the data centre. As the facility contains servers from several companies, individual racks must be secured independently. To ensure a superior outcome, ewl Rechenzentrum AG sought suitable solutions even during the early planning stages of the project. Alongside stable server racks, the emphasis was also placed on a dependable locking solution.


Wireless locking system featuring an iris scanner upgrade

ewl Rechenzentrum AG had a detailed plan for the sophisticated locking system in the bunker. The biometric access control had to be secure and the wireless communication with the rack and database had to be seamless, with a quick and simple setup. While searching for a suitable supplier, ewl Rechenzentrum AG contacted EMKA already at an early stage. The “Agent E Wireless” system fit the criteria exactly. By leveraging a combination of electromechanical handle, software and wireless technology, the security system allows individualised access to all cabinets and perpetually supervises the opening and closing processes. In addition, the handles can be easily and quickly adapted to cabinets from different manufacturers. This system had already been tested and proved successful in similar projects in Switzerland. ewl Rechenzentrum AG attached particular importance to a biometric system that regulates access to the server cabinets. Typically, EMKA provides authentication with an RFID card and Agent E. In this instance, there was a unique requirement that called for an iris scanner that can open the server cabinets remotely. Since the eye profile cannot be mistaken, this authentication method offers maximum security.

The Swiss company Touchless Biometric Systems AG (TBS) provided just the right system for this project. To manage access, all authorised individuals and personnel in the computer centre save a scan of their iris in the database. The individual pattern of iris is then encrypted and safeguarded from misuse. To open the desired server cabinet, the personnel or customer at the data centre must use the iris scanner to identify themselves. The scanner sends the data to the database and evaluates the information against the pre-existing patterns and authorisation profile. All authorised rack doors are now shown and can be selected on a display. The selected handles are transmitted to the control unit of the EMKA system and from there the activation is triggered wirelessly. Simultaneously, ewl Rechenzentrum AG receives up-to-date information regarding the server rack doors. Through personalised access control down to the cabinet level, Agent E thus enables clear logging and tracing. The entire system thus consists not only of an iris scanner and electromechanical handles, but also includes database-based control software and powerful modules.