Ask any IT manager and one of their primary concerns is security. The number and sophistication of attacks from both internal and external sources continues to grow, making IT security and risk mitigation full time jobs. Even then, many have commented that it isn’t if you will be breached, but when.
To date, security concerns have been addressed via the deployment of purpose-built appliances for detecting, monitoring and quarantining of common known attacks from external sources, as well as firewalls for both solidified perimeters and internal segmentation. In addition, internal threats have been tackled via various software-based policies, password or authentication technologies, siloed departments and access control, and other advances like auto-redaction. But, the question is whether this is all that can be done or are there areas that can be advanced not currently in use?
One area current security approaches don’t address is the infrastructure itself. Network infrastructure in the data center is currently static, meaning IT must take a very hands-on approach to making and maintaining connections so the business can move forward. This not only can lead to more money and time being spent to manage growing data centers, but also introduces potential security threats and impacts businesses ability to respond in the event of either malicious or unintentional breaches.
With data centers now sprawling to millions of square feet and the effort for securing them continues to grow IT managers must consider ways to make infrastructure more dynamic so it will be easier to respond and control points of vulnerability. Robotics presents a very compelling case and can be leveraged to significantly improve data center security response.
Security concern: The risk of human error – whether malicious or not
Let’s face it, humans makes errors. Whether they are simple mistakes or malicious attacks, these errors can pose a profound risk to a business and its data. The security threats posed by traditional viruses, Trojan Horses and other common methods are well-known and documented and currently protected against by advanced firewalls and other appliances.
However, many forget to consider and address another point of vulnerability – the infrastructure itself. At present, all optical connections within a data center are cared for manually. Miscommunication or other human error when performing simple maintenance or making adjustments to network infrastructure can increase the potential for a wrong move to be made and security threats quickly becoming a bigger problem. Finding a way to automate these connections and removing the potential for human error can simplify monitoring of potential areas of exposure and help save money in the process.
Security concern: Quickly stopping a security threat in its tracks
The longer it takes to react to a security threat can be the difference between an easy-fix and a big headache. When a security breach happens, certain things need to be done very fast to cut off the bridge and to reroute the traffic so as to avoid from the threat from spreading. Today, physical connections in remote data centers must be changed manually, meaning a company is only as quick to respond as it can dispatch an operator and get to work.
It takes people time to travel, to get on the phones and to get to the data center to fix the issue. This valuable lost time gives security vulnerabilities longer to propagate, potentially exposing additional machines and servers. Taking a more proactive approach to your infrastructure and enabling it for dynamic, remote management can significantly improve your business’ time-to-response and enable IT to quickly mitigate any risk.
Solution: Robotic automation
These security concerns become nonexistent with the incorporation of robotics into the data center. Putting traditionally manual tasks in the “hands” of robots makes data center networks more secure, and security issues can be resolved in real time, remotely, with no worry of human error or lag time. Robotic technologies make the network infrastructure dynamic, and can assist IT staff in quarantining threats by eliminating connections to other systems remotely in a fast manner.
Additionally, robotic automation also makes network infrastructure simplified. Currently, connectivity is run in the data center with many different layers of technology and protocols, making the network complex which leaves it open to vulnerability. Introducing robotic physical optical connectivity, to be able to setup a physical connection through software with application control, often called SDN, simplifies this. The software of the application can try the connectivity when they need it as they need it.
A robotic technology that can connect or disconnect a network connection physically and quickly introduces more security and manageability, in terms of setting up and building a more robust and simple network, resulting in a higher level of security. As a result of the introduction of robotic technology for managing the physical optical connections within the network operators will not only see improved security response, but also reduced OPEX and CAPEX, and improved reliability, as well as future-proof their critical infrastructure.
David Wang is CEO of Wave2Wave, a data center connectivity company headquartered in California.