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Oracle's Austin facility early adopter of biometrics

A combination of security tools, such as hand geometry scanning, makes Oracle's outsourcing data center cutting edge.

Visitors to Oracle's outsourcing data center are subject to round-the-clock armed guards, iris scanning, closed circuit television, weight measurement security -- in which guests' weight is measured entering and leaving the data center -- hand geometry scanning, vehicle proofing and metal detectors.

But this isn't anything futuristic.

In fact, improvements in security technology are allowing data centers, like this state-of-the- art one at Oracle's main data centers in Austin, Texas, to become a cost-effective reality --although still uncommon among data centers.

Oracle's outsourcing data center, with its eye-popping security, as well as it's extensive on-demand capabilities, was recently dubbed "Data Center of the Year" by data center user group, AFCOM.

Oracle's Austin data center opened in 2003 and hosts more than 9,500 servers and 2.5 PB of storage capacity. The facility, which currently offers IT outsourcing services for 438 customers, deploys multiple grids to host customers' applications and data as part of Oracle's on-demand initiative, and supports many of the company's new development activities, global education services and demo environments.

The award, which AFCOM said is meant to showcase companies that set an industry example for other businesses seeking to build new data centers or redesign their IT operations, was presented to Oracle at last week's AFCOM's Data Center World Conference in Las Vegas.

"The security is beyond military class," said David Thompson, senior vice president and chief information officer for Oracle. "It's a wow factor … [and] it's a world-class standard when it comes to data center security."

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According to Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT Research, the use of advanced security technologies has grown as the cost of deploying such applications has dropped. The spike in military-class security measures can be traced back to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

But short of automating a data center, security breaches will always be a concern for IT staffers.

"These technologies are all very interesting … that's the real James Bond stuff," King said. "But what's weird is that at the end of the day it comes down to the human interface. The actions of people working in the data center pose the greatest risk. As long as there are people, there are security risks."

Thompson said the company chose to locate an outsourcing data center in Austin because of its centralized location, structurally sound geophysical history, cost-effective real estate and the region's reputation for drawing and retaining skilled personnel.

According to Thompson, the honor is proof that Oracle made the right choice in committing itself to Austin.

"It's validation that we're focusing our attention in the right direction," Thompson said. "The award is just validation of our strategy, and that our investment in the [Austin data center] is paying off … it's very exciting for us."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer

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