As the internet evolved in the 1980s, Telehouse was building the infrastructure to support booming network operations. In 1989, the company built its first-ever data center on Staten Island, New York. Today, Telehouse operates more than 45 data centers worldwide, offering over 4 million square feet of colocation space to thousands of customers. Beyond their premiere 162,000-square-foot flagship data center in Staten Island, Telehouse America also offers colocation at their second New York City site in Manhattan as well as another site in Los Angeles, California.

Outdated systems and processes

Security has always been mission critical for Telehouse. The security team has consistently monitored video surveillance and access control systems 24/7 at each site to ensure customer data remains fully secured and protected. In the past, though, the video and access control solutions weren’t connected. Security operators had to move between applications, trying to piece information together during investigations. What’s more, operators couldn’t add newer biometrics, intercom, or perimeter technologies to enhance site security because the systems were simply too old to accommodate new integrations and expansions.

As the systems neared the end of product life cycles, Telehouse was ready for a major security upgrade.  

“We wanted a unified and modern security solution that could accommodate the latest technologies,” said Milad Abdelmessih, vice president of Telehouse America. “Our plan was to create layers of security at each site using select technologies and automate some of our processes. This would help our team work more efficiently in securing our sites and in keeping detailed audit trails.” 

They opted to deploy the Genetec Security Center unified platform, as it met their key criteria. 

“We wanted to partner with a company that would be responsive and value us as a customer,” Abdelmessih said.

Unifying security 

Across the Staten Island and Manhattan locations, the security teams monitor a total of 400 cameras and 400 doors using the Omnicast video surveillance system and Synergis access control system of Security Center.  From maintenance closets to server racks, every single door in the data center now has an access control reader.  

“Investigations have been simplified with the use of Security Center. In the past, we had to pull up blueprints and maps to see which cameras were associated with a door,” Abdelmessih said. “Using the map-based interface, we can quickly find doors and nearby cameras and see everything happening around them.” 

The security team also added a MAGOS radar perimeter detection system to spot potential threats at the property line, enabled by the open platform. 

“We’ve created a virtual fence around our sites,” Abdelmessih said. “Now, if someone tries to cross our property boundaries, we’ll know right away.” 

A built-in intercom system further reenforces security. Now, from within Security Center, operators can quickly initiate a two-way call if someone buzzes an intercom device at the front door or shipping docks. Live video automatically comes up on the monitor, so operators can also identify visitors or cardholders before choosing to grant or deny them access.

Staying compliant and cybersecure 

Because it stores and secures data for hundreds of global companies in many industries, Telehouse must comply with standards set by those industries, including the Service Organization Control (SOC) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), among others. 

“We go through roughly 40 to 50 internal and external audits for our customers every year,” Abdelmessih said. “Some have very strict guidelines and rigorous auditing processes. Being able to easily retrieve access control reports has been vital to our business. We can now customize these reports and save them for future auditing. So, when we have to rerun the report for the month, it’s as easy as pressing a button.” 

Some customers want to see which cardholders are disabled and enabled during the month. Others want to see a list of active cardholders, or how many of their technicians or vendors haven’t used their card in a certain number of days. Looking forward, Telehouse plans to set up Security Center to automatically generate and email these monthly reports to customers. 

“Since we’ve had Security Center up and running, we’ve gone through a very stringent audit for one of our banking customers,” Abdelmessih said. “In the past years, we received a lot of questions after sending information. During the last audit, there were no questions at all. They appreciate what we have done to upgrade and strengthen our security.” 

Modernizing operations 

Beyond security, the operations teams at Telehouse are also benefiting from the security upgrades. Using Security Center, the engineering team monitors video feeds in equipment rooms and near cooling towers. This allows them to quickly see if a fan on a cooling tower stops spinning or if any other mechanical failures need their urgent attention. 

“A lot of other systems that we viewed looked just like our 10-year-old systems,” Abdelmessih said. “We kept asking, ‘where is the modernization?’ Our teams appreciate Security Center for being intuitive and easy to use. We can even customize individual dashboards to support team member objectives and preferences. From handling investigations to sending clients reports, every task has become simpler than what we did in the past.” 

Continued expansion

Telehouse is now focusing on further upgrading security at the Los Angeles data center. Part of the plan is to minimize the on-site equipment, so the team is taking a closer look at cloud services. The security team is now looking to Genetec a digital evidence management system to streamline investigations as well as facilitate secure file sharing with customers, vendors, or auditors.

“Since implementing the Security Center unified platform, securing our sites and managing our visitors has become much easier,” Abdelmessih said. “Having that unified security view ensures our staff can see what’s happening and respond without delay. Even from an operational standpoint, we’re delivering more value and assurance to our customers with detailed auditing and reporting.”