2017 Changes to SSAE and SOC Accreditations for Data Centers and Cloud Providers

Written by Art Salazar on Thursday, June 29th 2017 — Categories: Cloud Hosting, Security

Two of the most common audit standards for data center and cloud service providers are SOC 1 and SOC 2, with the SSAE 16 Type II control containing both of them. These standards are created by the Auditing Standards Board (ASB) of the American Institute of CPAs in order to assure the customers of service providers that controls around services are operating securely and effectively.

Every so often, ASB revises these standards. In 2017, the SSAE 16 (which stands for Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements — yes, these audits are frequently a mouthful) has been replaced by SSAE 18 for all audits dated May 1st and later.

Let’s take a look at why data centers and cloud providers certify under SOC 1, SOC 2, and SSAE — and see how the SSAE 18 changes might impact them in 2017.

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Despite Rising Automation, Human Error is a Top Cause of Downtime. Here’s How to Avoid It.

Written by Art Salazar on Wednesday, May 31st 2017

Another week, another story about a major data center outage. This time it’s British Airways under public scrutiny as the company scrambles to discover the source of data center downtime that grounded hundreds of flights.

While the cause of that outage isn’t yet released, that hasn’t stopped some experts from suggesting human error as the cause. They aren’t likely to be off base, either: human error remains the leading cause of IT infrastructure outages. Therefore minimizing human error should be a primary focus of reliability efforts.

While we all make mistakes, when critical infrastructure is at stake — not to mention thousands of dollars in downtime related costs — it’s worth some investment to try and reduce the potential negative effects of people on IT systems. Here are some tips to help you avoid downtime stemming from human error.

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Stamping Out the Main Causes of Data Center Downtime

Written by Art Salazar on Tuesday, April 26th 2016 — Categories: Data Center Design, Security

With the average cost of data center outages hovering at $740,000 (according to a Ponemon / Emerson study from 2016), operators must take action to avoid the most common causes of downtime. Let’s take a quick dive into the leading origins of unplanned downtime and how you can avoid them in your data center.

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Data Center Access Controls at the Cabinet and Rack Level

Written by Art Salazar on Thursday, April 7th 2016 — Categories: Colocation, Data Center Design, Security

As data center design continues to evolve, one stalwart piece hasn’t changed too much: cabinet or rack security and monitoring. After all, how complicated can a door lock get? While most every data center will have some form of lock on their racks and/or cabinets, especially colocation facilities as they have multiple clients accessing shared floor space, not all locks are created equal. Newer technologies allow automated access logs, biometric security, wireless unlocking, and more.

With different compliance standards and security requirements for various applications, some colocation providers will install custom locks for your cabinet if necessary. Physical security measures remain vitally important, as social engineering and theft can extend to hardware and not just data. How then do data center providers go about securing cabinets and racks?

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Think Inside the Box & Implement Containment for Energy Savings

Written by Art Salazar on Tuesday, March 8th 2016 — Categories: Data Center Design, Green Data Center

Airflow containment refers to the practice of segregating the aisles of a data center so the hot exhaust air from servers does not mix with incoming cold air, while also more efficiently directing airflow into or out of the data center floor. According to the Uptime Institute’s 2014 Data Center Industry Survey, only 30% of operators have at least ¾ of their data center using some form of containment. Less than half of all survey respondents had at least 50% of their data center heat contained.

That leaves a lot of white space without any form of containment, which is one of the best ways to improve energy efficiency and translates into a more reliable environment as well as direct cost savings.

Things have improved since a few years ago, to be sure. But airflow containment remains a significant upfront investment that data center operations teams might not consider, especially at smaller providers or in-house facilities. However it can show a real ROI.

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