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This is Not Your Grandfather’s Server Rack Security



Who you are. What you have. What you know.

While those three statements may sound somewhat like taglines in a career-building exercise, they are actually the foundational elements for building the structure of some of the most advanced security access systems.Not Grandfather's Server Rack Security_blog.jpg

In the world of high-tech security access, they’re key components in security authorization, better known as one-, two- and three-factor authentication.

Most likely you’ve used both one and two-factor authentication in your everyday life.

Passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers) rule our lives these days. At security’s most basic level, they constitute “what you know”, or, more technically, one-factor authentication.

Ever use an ATM machine? Then you’re also already familiar with the next level, or two-factor authentication. That ATM/debit card you’re holding? That’s the “What you have” element. Thus, when you walk up to the ATM machine, insert your card and are then asked to enter your password or PIN, you’ve just gone through a two-factor authentication process.

But what about “who you are”?

Now we’re getting into James Bond territory with one of the most secure and high-tech aspects of physical authentication, affectionately known as biometrics.

If you’re an owner of a relatively late-model smartphone or laptop, odds are that you have the ability to use a fingerprint scan as a way to access your device. If you do that, then congratulations. You’re a user of biometric authentication. Simply put, biometrics uses some portion of your human anatomy that distinctly identifies you as, well…you. Fingerprints, full palm scans, retinal (eye) scans, facial recognition, voice recognition, DNA, etc.

In the world of data center security, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to your racks is critical, and, depending upon the industry you serve, it may be paramount.HPE Rack and Power_Security_source.JPG


Security ranks very high on data center managers list of priorities, especially given the devastating impact that downtime or data theft can have on a business. In our security-focused world, racks have become more than just a metal box and are now a critical and integral part of the overall security system for data centers.

Hosting data for the medical industry?

HIPAA standards require robust security methodologies. The same goes for financial institutions, federal government agencies and the military, just to name a few.

Thus it’s no surprise that it’s now common for an infrastructure manager finding themselves having to comply with a myriad of security requirements set out in regulatory standards such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, Federal Security Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Critical Infrastructure Protection, and a host of other governing agencies depending upon the whose data is sitting inside the rack.

While three-factor authentication is mainly used in businesses and government agencies that require high degrees of security, many of these agencies require at least two-factor authentication and typically employ the “something you know” and “something you have” approach. The “something you know” is usually a numerical access code, entered via a digital keypad. The “something you have” can be implemented in a variety of ways, such as traditional cards that you insert or swipe on a card reader, wireless keycards that use RFID, or even smartphones that transmit security access via Bluetooth.

Historically, biometric scanners have traditionally been implemented for key security checkpoints such as doors to secure areas. However, the progression of technology and decreasing prices are now allowing them to become much more prevalent for use on smaller, targeted areas such as the doors on a rack.

In many cases where two-factor authentication is required, infrastructure managers are implementing some combination of keypads, cards and biometrics. For those businesses or agencies that are even more security conscious, all three elements are used for three-factor authentication.

But what if I’m a super-secret government agency?

Is there four-factor authentication? Sure, and it’s usually done by using two biometric elements, such as fingerprints and voice recognition, along with numerical codes and key cards.

Back to reality, with the tremendous rise in critical applications and assets stored on servers in data centers, HPE recognizes that security is foremost on everyone’s mind. So it goes without saying that as your applications and data are stored on some of the world’s most secure servers, it’s comforting to know those servers will be housed in some of the world’s most secure rack infrastructure.

How secure?

In our new, next-generation racks, we engineered in universal lock tooling that allows them to be configured with a wide variety of multi-factor authentication with options like fingerprint biometric scanners, wireless card readers and digital keypads, laying the foundation for data security before you ever even get into the rack. And the rest of your infrastructure like your critical power distribution? Locked down with multiple security access levels and globally monitored and managed with HPE’s infrastructure management solutions.

Who you are. What you have. What you know. We like to think we’re your career coach in rack-and-power infrastructure security.

About the Author


Michael Pratt’s passion is helping customers go further. His job is making products that make servers go further. He spends his days connecting the two.