SIA Member Exchange: Securing Data Centers with DIRAK

A classified military command center in the Washington, D.C. area faced challenges in securing its data centers. It could not remodel or build more room, so it required a security solution that fit within its current footprint. The command turned to DIRAK, a German company with U.S. headquarters in Sterling, Virginia, to solve the problem.

DIRAK, a member of the Security Industry Association (SIA), offered its E-LINE by DIRAK MLR Series to secure the data center. It provided electronic access control for the doors of the data center cabinet, along with individualized access based on job function, clearance levels and ranks. The solution provided a rapid security response that revolutionized workflow processes at the data center, which previously experienced challenges providing access to classified and nonclassified material to multiple clearance levels simultaneously.

In a recent presentation at SIA Headquarters, DIRAK officials explained that the case represented exactly the sort of security challenges their company was established to resolve. Roughly 15 years ago, DIRAK was approached by a client to provide a security solution for server racks, and it set out to do just that, developing one of the most complete solutions on the market today, said Gregory Breads, DIRAK Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Aldon Blackwood, DIRAK Product Manager.

Now in existence for more than 25 years, the company does business in 40 countries, employing more than 500 people, including dedicated research and development staff with the ability to customize solutions for any application.

DIRAK electronic locks have a failure rate next to zero in part because of the very high-end materials used in the products, said Blackwood. The DIRAK product line consists of three distinct locks.

First, the Universal Mechatronic Locks (MLU) is a completely concealed electronic latching solution that is ideal for retrofits with its easy mounting and compact design. The locks go easily into miscellaneous enclosures.

Second, the Mechatronic Lock for Enclosures (MLE) has a vandal-resistant handle that is rated to withstand hammer blows, hacksaws, prying attacks, and water and dust ingress. The product can be integrated through DIRAK’s Administration Suite or through a third-party management system, and it is ideal for outdoor enclosures such as railway controls and power generators. Operators of a local transit authority recently turned to DIRAK, for example, to secure its control boxes to prevent copper and equipment theft and to manage access to its controls.

And third, the Mechatronic Lock for Racks (MLR) is designed for IT and server cabinets. It is by far the top seller at DIRAK, which designed it for the data center market. Still, it remains an emerging market, where DIRAK has seen most of its success in the United States through large companies that realize they must secure their enterprise data centers. DIRAK is beginning to see traction in its other offerings as the company works to educate the market on the risks that threaten data centers and critical infrastructure today.

“In Europe and elsewhere, they are a little more forward-thinking in their telecommunications infrastructure,” Blackwood said. “Many telecommunications enclosures have an electronic locking solution, either ours or a competitors’ locking solution.” But within the past several years, a major U.S. telecom approached DIRAK for the first time to install electronic access control, marking a shift in how major corporations are upgrading security at their facilities.

On inspiration for that shift is the growing realization that many firms haven’t done enough to protect against insider threats, Blackwood suggested, particularly in the wake of high-profile controversies like the case of Edward Snowden, after spending several years focusing on cybersecurity.

“Very few data centers have rack access control, so there is plenty of room for growth,” Blackwood said.

SIA Member Exchange is an opportunity for you to visit with SIA Staff and exchange ideas and information. We invite you to visit us and tell us more about your products or services as well! SIA Members interested in participating in the SIA Member Exchange at SIA Headquarters can contact Bryan Miller at 301-804-4717 or to set up a visit.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts and/or profiles are those of the authors or sources and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Security Industry Association (SIA).