Moving Mobile Data Center Modules to a New Level of Protection - The New Secure Agile Vault Environment by Firelock

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To address the lack of protection for IT equipment in "data center in a box" products, a new mobile data center module with a data-rated fireproof server vault is now available. In addition to fire protection, the Secure Agile Vault Environment (SAVE) by Firelock provides improved physical security, climate control, and ease of access--all in a vendor-neutral design.

SAVE Solution

"Mission critical data centers require protection against all threats--especially when they are in a vulnerable structure like shipping containers."

Several major hardware manufacturers have come to market with a mobile shipping container filled with their pre-configured server systems. What’s missing in these packages is the ability to protect this mission critical equipment from a wide range of threats. That is why the Secure Agile Vault Environment(SAVE) by Firelock has entered the mobile data center module market. The key point of differentiation of SAVE is the six-sided Class 125-Two Hour rated vault installed inside the container. This protective structure ensures the interior of the vault will remain below 125-degrees F. for at least two hours, even if temperatures outside the vault reach 2,000-degrees F. All components in these vaults, including he double door assembly, cable penetrations, coolant line penetrations and damper assemblies, must achieve the Class 125 rating because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. FIRELOCK has been designing, manufacturing and installing the highest quality fireproof vaults since 1985 with over 1,500 successful installations around the world. This mobile server vault was designed with the expertise acquired from protecting mission critical facilities over this period.

Protecting these mobile server rooms from fire and other threats is necessary because a containerized server room will typically be deployed directly adjacent to the main building, if not inside the building itself. This leaves the IT equipment inside a shipping container vulnerable to the destructive force of a building fire. The steel structure of a shipping container may keep the flames from penetrating into its interior, but the heat is transferred through the steel of the container just like heat penetrates a steel frying pan on the stove. As every data center operator knows, heat is the enemy of sensitive IT equipment. If the mobile data center unit is located away from the building, this raises the threat of tampering or even arson in a worst-case scenario. And for mission critical IT infrastructure, best practices demand planning for the worst-case scenario. An excellent example of an application for this product is the protection of networking equipment at a cloud computing facility, where the loss of this critical element would slow or completely disrupt service for thousands of customers.

The cooling system employed by the SAVE design is Vette's LiquiCool Rear Door Heat Exchanger. This is a water-cooled door that mounts to the back of server cabinets and cools computer equipment exhaust air before it re-enters the data center operating environment. The Rear Door Heat Exchanger utilizes a low impedance fin and tube heat exchanger that does not have fans, moving parts or electrical connections, resulting in a dramatic reduction of cooling energy consumption. The adaptability to almost any server rack design makes this product a good fit in this vendor-neutral package. It is also perfect for operating in the closed environment of the vault chamber.

Along with the more complex fire protection issues, the SAVE design also addresses some of the more mundane requirements of a mobile data center module, such as weather protection, physical security and the safety of personnel servicing IT equipment in the vault. Rather than compressing all of the equipment into a small container, SAVE units are constructed with 40-foot containers. This allows adequate room for a vestibule between the container doors and the front wall of the vault chamber, which provides the weather protection needed by sensitive server equipment. With this configuration the vault can remain sealed until the entry door in the container is closed. In addition to providing the required fire protection capabilities, the double door assembly adds to the physical security of the unit. Another feature of the SAVE design is the emergency exit door built into the container doors. In a standard shipping container the doors are locked shut from the outside, so anyone inside the container would be trapped. This emergency exit door provides safety for personnel working inside vault and reduces the liabilities of its owner.

SAVE units come equipped with a fire suppression system to guard against fires starting inside the vault chamber. The Novec 1230TM system is ideal for protecting sensitive IT equipment. This 3M product is totally non-conductive and leaves behind no residue. It is also safe for any personnel that are in the area during a discharge because it is non-toxic and extinguishes the fire with evaporative cooling effect rather than depleting the oxygen in the room.

If a major disaster interrupts power or communications at your facility, there is a network of facilities that can provide a place to get the SAVE unit back on-line. The Secure Media Vault Associates is a network of over 65 offsite data storage firms around the U.S. and in Europe, and they can host these SAVE units at their facilities with the power and network communications services to get these systems up and running again. Most also offer other disaster recovery services.

There are IT equipment manufacturers who have created mobile data center modules with high-density as the top priority. With some modifications these mobile data center modules could be adapted to work within the protected environment FIRELOCK has created. The modular design of FIRELOCK vaults also makes them very adaptable and able to fit the requirements of these manufacturers, or any data center designers who have a need a custom-configured mobile server vault. FIRELOCK is actively seeking to partner with IT equipment firms with clients who demand the highest level of protection for their data center modules.

The concept of creating data center modules in highly portable shipping containers has many merits. Adding a data-rated fireproof vault to the package is a logical step in the evolution of this relatively new idea in the IT market. Unless the information and processing capabilities hosted by these containerized server rooms is significantly less valuable than other systems on the network, then this infrastructure demands the same level of protection. In short, the Secure Agile Vault Environment by FIRELOCK offers the advantages of a portable data center module with the added protection of a Class 125 modular server vault—the protection mission critical infrastructure demands.

FIRELOCK provides custom design expertise and manufactures and installs modular record storage vaults in a variety of sizes, from shipping containers and small rooms up to large 25,000 cu. ft. facilities. These vaults are designed to provide UL Class 125 fire protection, along with environmental controls for your critical or vital information assets. Lightweight, expandable panel systems are available to construct fire-safe and heat-safe vaults for the protection of IT equipment, magnetic media, micrographic media, and optical disks. The FIRELOCK vault is the highest rated fire protection storage environment for heat-sensitive processing equipment and computer media available in the industry. Our client list includes service organizations of all types and sizes from diverse industries, ranging from hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, to major financial houses and State and Local Government offices. Information about FIRELOCK is available at


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