Protection for corporate intellectual property
 
Protection for corporate intellectual property

Oct 1, 2000 12:00 PM
RANDY SOUTHERLAND

Locals here call it the Silicon Forest. Rising up from lush woods and some of the nation's most fertile farmland just west of Portland, Ore., Hillsboro is rapidly acquiring a reputation as the new home for high-tech business in the Pacific Northwest.

Where cows once grazed and farmers tended their crops, the giants of the new computer-driven economy are finding a home. Within the cool walls of the office parks and concrete low rises can be found the products of the new economy.

At the newly constructed home of Integrated Business Solutions (IBS), one encounters a kind of 21st century agriculture. Row after row of computers fill cavernous labs within the massive single-story building. Dubbed a "server farm" by the techies, these high-speed machines hold the computerized intellectual property and other data of corporate giants. In an era when focusing on your core business is the secret to success, and outsourcing is a means to do so, IBS has made a business of taking over and managing the information technology functions of a number of well-known Fortune 500 companies. In some cases, IBS has simply moved its technicians into a company's facility, or it has built a separate facility to handle the client's IT needs remotely.

IBS is a division of Lockheed Martin, a company better known for building military aircraft than for managing other companies' computer systems. Although its headquarters can be found in sunny Orlando, its latest facility found its way to Oregon because of the needs of a new client.

"They (IBS) ended up getting a major contract based on several factors," says Tim Frawley, the facility's local security manager. "One was building a data center in the Portland area to support the contract. In the negotiations, roughly 200 former employees of the client migrated to Lockheed."

"The client had a data center and they didn't want to be in the IT business, but they had a whole lot of IT employees," he explains. "So instead of reinventing the wheel, Lockheed Martin just hired those people. The customer in essence didn't have to lay anybody off, and Lockheed Martin got a staff of good employees to run the data center here in the Northwest."

These 200 or so newly converted Lockheed Martin employees began moving into the 135,000-sq.-ft. facility last March, along with sensitive multi-million dollar computers ready to hold its even more sensitive data. Months before the move, work had gotten under way on crafting a security system that was worthy of the job the company was tasked with doing.

Never let it be said that IBS doesn't think big when it comes to security. The company's new Hillsboro facility - although small in size - is guarded by an Enterprise class software package. While a system of such scope might seem a bit much for a relatively small facility, the company had reason to acquire a system that presented room for future growth.

"The reason they chose an enterprise class system is that their business plan is to build and maintain additional buildings and facilities such as this around the nation and the world," says W.C. "Billy" Nichols, project director for Portland-based Huser Integrated Technologies, the company which put together IBS's security system. "They want to control them from a central system."

IBS could remotely monitor a customer's security system by partitioning its own system. Although the client might be located miles away, through the installation of its panels and readers, the company could control the system as if it were on site.

The company envisioned using the system to expand its business offerings to future customers, and also wanted to ensure that current clients they already had were well protected. Resting within the servers is information that constitutes literally the heart of a company. No company could afford the loss of data and capabilities that Nichols terms "the keys to the kingdom."

So Huser started with a Hirsch Electronics Momentum enterprise class software package linked with seven of the Irvine, Calif. - based company's Model 8 Control Panels.

Company officials also wanted the building to be "keyless" as a means of enhancing security. To do that, Huser linked the control panels to ProxPoint readers located on each of the building's 53 doors and operated by ISO ProxCards. Both components are manufactured by Irvine, Calif.- based HID.

"The design called for every office that has a door to have a reader on it," says Mike Bode, another member of he Huser team. "This is essentially a keyless building. There are only a handful of keys to the entire facility, and those are not given out, but instead are closely guarded. Gaining access to the building and specific points in the building requires a card with the proper access level. All cards can be programmed with varying levels of security using the Momentum system."

The keyless entry system was important because the facility is essentially a 24/7 operation. The IT needs of a large company - and the various companies for which the facility acts as an Internet service provider - never cease.

A full staff of employees is present around-the-clock to maintain the servers or answer calls at the 24-hour help desk.

"During normal business hours 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, you can walk into the front lobby," explains Nichols. "That is as far as you can go. The receptionist doesn't even have a push-button release for the doors. You must have a card or be escorted."

Frawley says that the philosophy behind the keyless system - and indeed, the entire system - is to provide a high level of physical protection, while not being obvious to the end-user that everything is part of the security effort. High-tech security is accomplished with a minimal presence.

"If you don't belong here, you won't get very far," he remarks. "If you belong here, you won't even notice the security."

Through the Momentum system, every door in the building can be monitored, and the individual card used to either enter a room - or attempt to enter - can be easily identified.

"Our people really like the ability to audit their own door," says Frawley. "If someone walks into their office, I can tell them this person was there. I can tell them the custodian was in your office last night. We know what changed and can let them know."

In addition, the system eliminates the need to change door locks if someone leaves employment without returning their key. Since the badge is the key, it can simply be deactivated. Given the high turnover that plagues the competitive IT industry, this feature alone represents the potential for extensive cost savings, according to Frawley.

The security director can keep close tabs on where people are at any given time and maintain a record of when they attempt to enter an area for which they don't have clearance.

"You get a lot of people who don't know if their card works in a particular door so they will try it," he explains. "There may be unauthorized attempts, but it really isn't something that I go after unless it's persistent. With this many readers around, people will say, `Can I get in here? Well, I guess not.' I have the system programmed to log those events, but not to set off the alarm. The outside doors are alarmed, however."

In addition to keyless entry, the facility is also protected by a CCTV system. This 13-camera system includes Ultrak KD 5 color domes and Sanyo VCC 4324 color and black and white units. Each camera is equipped with a Tamron lens. The devices monitoring exterior doors use Pelco enclosures. Images are fed into a Robot multiplexer and can be viewed through Mitsubishi VCRs linked to Ultrak 20-inch monitors.

"We had to ensure that the outdoor cameras had light sensitivity that was up to the task so that we could get usable information when it's recording," says Nichols. "We had to ensure that the battery backups on the power supplies for the door hardware and mag locks were up to par and could handle an emergency power outage. There is backup power generation and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for the servers and for critical components of the entry/access system, such as the doors. However not all those were put on the back-up generator system. So, we had to provide adequate UPS and battery back-up for the doors that were not on the power generation system."

These critical power supply devices came from Von Duprin. The doors themselves are also equipped with Von Duprin mag locks.

IBS provides its own security service. Since the facility is run on a 24-hour basis, internal staff monitors the system and can make decisions about what kind of response is needed to a particular incident.

"We're a small enough company and the system was easy enough to use that since we have a round-the-clock staff, we're self-monitored," says Frawley. "The guys are with the data center all the time, so we put a client workstation inside the operations center. The operations supervisor can monitor the building from the inside. If something comes up, they can give us a call and we can help them. They're basically instructed with an after-hours manual that tells them what to do in different situations. If someone were trying to force an outside door, they could look up on the screen after getting the alarm and see what was occurring there. They could make a decision to call the police based on that information."

IBS represents the cutting edge of the new information-based economy. It also demonstrates how security technology can provide a high level of protection without casting the long shadow of armed guards over those who must occupy the facility. Through keyless entry and a powerful access control system, they are able to ensure that "the keys to the kingdom" are kept truly safe.

 
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