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The Proactive Data Center: Using Real-Time Data to Avoid Regulatory Fines

Posted by David Haut
Avoiding regulatory fines is a key element of data center regulations. Compliance oversight can cost billions of dollars, but real-time data can help keep a best-in-class data center running like clockwork. Read more on how you can get your data center protected.

An employee walks off with some of your data center’s storage devices, selling them on eBay. Unfortunately, those devices had customer data—and worse yet, those customers were in the healthcare industry. Now your organization is in violation of HIPPA regulations, and exposed to possibly six- or up to an eight-figure fine due to this breach of process, controls, and trust. Real-time asset location tracking and chain of custody data can protect your organization from both nefarious activities and process failures.

IT assets must be accounted for regardless of whether malicious or accidental misplacement occurs. Lost or stolen data can cost your business an exorbitant amount in fines; the IT equipment itself is also expensive to lose, reaching in some cases into six figures.

In this article, learn what compliance regulations must be considered, what can happen when problems arise, and how real-time data can help you ensure near 100% compliance.

Did you know? Automated and real-time asset location data can eliminate the stress, costs, and reputation damage that comes with failing an audit or not complying with an service level agreement. Active radio frequency identification (RFID) from RF Code offers real-time information needed to strengthen your asset management. With 100% accurate and automated asset tracking, you can see every device in the data center from acquisition to disposal. This lets you prevent mishaps whether due to negligence or malice. No other solution on the market delivers such comprehensive visibility on demand.

An Overview of Data Center Regulations

Whether it’s managing hardware, applications, or data, your data center must always consider a host of legal restrictions. These laws require organizations to comply with audits and secure their resources against accidental and intentional losses to protect people’s privacy and security. Today’s financial and healthcare institutions are required to take seriously their obligation to safeguard data that resides on servers, laptops, and other storage devices in and outside of the data center, or face millions of dollars in fines and reputational damage. Jobs and livelihoods at and beyond data centers are also at stake without 100% real-time asset locatability in place.

man inside data center checking real-time data

In addition to regulations that apply to any data center, some industries also have their own more exacting requirements. For example, healthcare companies must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), while financial institutions must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS).

The increasingly global nature of business further complicates regulatory compliance, creating a deeper need for real-time data. For instance, a company based in the United States but with European customers may have obligations under American and European laws. Each country has its own regulatory bodies, such as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Canada or the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK.

Edge computing complicates regulatory compliance, as it’s difficult to know what’s happening at unmanned locations. Fortunately, for remote IT sites and conventional data centers, active RFID asset tracking makes it easy to monitor equipment and stay compliant with international laws for any industry.

An Oversight That Cost 60 Million Dollars

Regulatory compliance is no laughing matter; serious penalties are enforced against companies that violate the rules. For example, in 2020, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) fined a global services giant $60 million for not decommissioning a couple of data centers correctly. It was also revealed during the investigation that 42 servers, all potentially containing unencrypted customer PII and consumer report information, were missing. If there were 1,000 devices in that data center, that’s just 4% that went missing. This is why data centers simply cannot accept an asset tracking standard anywhere below 99.9%. This incident not only cost this global financial services giant an eight-figure fine but also cost jobs. There must be a scapegoat.

it analyst checking servers through real-time data

What did they do wrong? This financial company did not ensure that servers were cleaned of data before disposal. Sensitive customer data fell into the hands of a recycling company that bought the used equipment.

A series of class-action lawsuits against the financial firm described passport numbers and other personal data on the mishandled devices. The regulatory body found that the global financial services giant hadn’t taken appropriate action to protect its hardware in decommissioning. 100% accurate and automated asset locatability and chain of command documentation in real-time throughout an asset’s full lifecycle could have prevented this massive mistake.

Compliance Fines Can Set You Back as Much as $1.4 Billion

While the costs of data center mismanagement often run into the millions, they can even stretch into the billions. Data now ranks among the most important resources in business—so the laws protecting data are justifiably serious. Big data has driven up the amount spent on IT, and the size of fines for regulatory non-compliance.

The credit reporting company Equifax suffered $1.4 billion in losses after a massive failure that affected 148 million people in the US—half the American population—plus millions more internationally. This easily preventable failure raised the ire of regulators in the affected countries, resulting in severe penalties.

How Does Real-Time Data Ensure Compliance?

Real-time data protects assets following regulations. Compliance requires data centers to know the exact physical locations of assets to pass quarterly and annual audits; with active RFID asset tracking, you can instantly and automatically confirm the location of any hardware hosting customer information.

programmer using real-time data to ensure compliance

There’s an even higher level of regulatory oversight for banking and healthcare data, requiring asset visibility at all times. And for data centers, edge sites, or colocation facilities that have service level agreements (SLAs), it’s necessary to adhere to the terms of the SLAs.

RF Code’s continuous real-time data increases accuracy to a minimum of 99%, helping you pass those audits effortlessly. RF Code’s active asset management solution delivers 24/7 information on each asset's precise whereabouts and environmental conditions, telling you it’s present and safe. And you can also use the data for lifecycle management, environmental monitoring, and power monitoring—it’s not just limited to asset tracking.

While ensuring compliance, active RFID also saves money. For example, the huge mobile communications company Vodafone saved $200,000 by tracking assets with RF Code. And DataVita saved on power and cooling while meeting their 100% uptime SLA.

How to Become a Proactive Data Center with Real-Time Asset Data

A proactive data center is one that anticipates and prevents problems before they occur, using real-time data to identify potential issues and take proactive measures to address them. This can include using data to detect and correct problems in equipment or processes, as well as to prevent regulatory fines by ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.

Some examples of how a proactive data center might use real-time data to avoid regulatory fines include:

  • Monitoring and analyzing data from equipment and processes to identify potential problems before they occur
  • Implementing automatic alerts or notifications to alert staff to potential issues
  • Using data to optimize equipment and processes, minimizing the risk of regulatory non-compliance
  • Providing training and resources to staff to help them understand and adhere to relevant regulations
  • Developing and implementing robust policies and procedures to ensure compliance with regulations
  • Using data to track and report on compliance with relevant regulations

Maximize Real-Time Data Benefits With RF Code

Live information on your data center assets helps protect you against regulatory fines. In recent years these fines have exploded, and this trend is only continuing. Real-time data also defends your expensive IT assets against temperature and humidity problems and electrical issues and streamlines inventory processes to save you time and money.

IT analyst checking their data

RF Code’s active RFID is the leading technology for continuous real-time asset tracking. Regardless of where in your facility a device is—or if it’s even powered on—you can see the location and environmental conditions and answer audits without worry.

The benefits of RF Code’s active RFID solution are easy and affordable to access. Simply attach tags to any devices you want to track, plug in the tag-reading equipment, and see real-time data in the CenterScape software. This cuts expensive hours from inventory processes and virtually eliminates lost hardware, so you’ll see a return on your investment in no time.

Take action now to prevent infractions. See how real-time data can safeguard your assets and improve performance with a demo of RF Code’s real-time asset management and monitoring solution today.