State data centers provide infrastructure for centralized storage and management of large amounts of data generated by government institutions and commercial users. There are two of them in Serbia. The primary, but significantly smaller one is located in Belgrade, on Katićeva Street. And as a new decoration on the economic map of Kragujevac, a little more than two years ago, the far more ambitious and larger facility of the secondary State Data Center (SDC) “emerged”. Within it, the company DATA CLOUD TECHNOLOGY l.t.d. operates in the area intended for commercial users. Its founder and sole member is the Government of Serbia. The construction of this building began long before the first shovel of cement. And the “foundation” was the idea to modernize Serbia with the largest data center in the area. When choosing a location in Kragujevac, several preconditions had to be fulfilled and a geopolitically secure and sustainable position had to be chosen. Symbolically, this is how the first capital of modern Serbia got the opportunity to become the digital center of the Balkans in the future.
We at HelpDisc constantly emphasize the necessity and importance of data backup to our clients, so naturally we expressed desire to learn more about data storage at the highest professional level. Our initiative coincided with today’s celebration of World Backup Day (March 31), and it encountered understanding of those responsible from the company DATA CLOUD TECHNOLOGY (DCT). They organized a guided visit to the State Data Center for us. That’s why, at the dawn of spring, we went to Kragujevac, to visit colleagues from a related guild.
Security and technical aspects of SDC in Kragujevac, Serbia
Our kind hosts from DATA CLOUD TECHNOLOGY l.t.d (DCT) did their best to provide us with answers to all the questions. We will publish the story of this visit in two parts. The first one, as the subtitle says, will deal with the issue of safety and technical aspects. And in the second part, we will pay more attention to data storage, commercial users, and the importance of data backup. According to Mr. Srđan Simović, technical director of DCT, the feasibility study and data center construction project were carried out by the British consulting companies Deloitte and Arthur D Little (ADL). And the construction work itself belonged to the local construction company Mašinoprojekt Kopring.
During the planning of the project, it was necessary for the building to be:
- on a different fault zone compared to the primary data center in Belgrade
- not on a regular flight route
- more than 800m away from a highway, railway, or military base.
- in an area that hasn’t flooded in the last hundred years.
- far away from chemical industry, research laboratory, landfill, or dam.
- at least 1600m from airport, military industry factory
- far away from factory facilities and industrial presses that would cause ground shaking.
The State Data Center in Kragujevac was built in just 18 months. It is located in two buildings, with a total area of 14,000 m2 and an installed capacity of 14 MW. The first, larger building is in part intended for state institutions, ministries, agencies, and local governments. But part of that space is designated for commercial users. In the adjacent, smaller building, there is a separate data center used by the Serbian security services. (MUP, army, and BIA). According to Mr. Simović, since the conceptual solution, there was an ambition for this venture to become a TIER 4 class data center, i.e. meets the highest world reliability standards. On that less traveled path, this Data Center has successfully passed several professional certifications. Starting with the standard ISO 9000, then ISO 27001 (information security), ISO 27701 (personal data protection), and up to ISO 22301 (business continuity) and SOC 2 standard (control of confidentiality, integrity, availability, privacy, and security). Thanks to that it currently stores, among the lot of other things, the social security data of 6.5 million citizens of Serbia.
Infrastructure and power supply systems
So far, around 55 million euros have been invested in the construction, infrastructure, and voltage protection of Data center. So the interior captivates with its futuristic appearance. As example, in order to enter the technological part of the facility, you need to go through the – interlocker. It is a cabin that measures the weight at the entrance and the exit to the technical part of the facility. The electrical engineer of energy, Mr. Nenad Kostadinović, took us through them. In the State Data Center, he deals with power supply, air conditioning, and technical protection systems.
We found out that there are 160 rack cabinets in six modules (physically separated units/rooms). Rack is the name for a structure used to house and organize hardware equipment in a data center, as well as to enable efficient management of cables, power, and cooling. The total capacity of SDC is 1080 rack cabinets. Of these, 960 are located in the larger building, and 120 are in rack cabinets in the smaller building. Currently, 320 racks are occupied, and it is expected that all capacities will be filled by 2025.
Complete facility was built on the principle of 2N redundancy, i.e. of the concept of dual systems, which are used in parallel. It ensures reliability and protection against critical failures, because in the event of failure of one monitoring or power supply component, the other component continues to operate without interruption. DDC is powered by two independent energy lines coming from different transformer stations. If happens that the mains power fails, each module is assigned to two aggregates of individual power of 2 MW. The time gap until their full activation is filled by UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). There are four UPS per module, and the power of each of them is 500 KW. At full load, the autonomy of the UPS is 12 min, and at 150% load, it is about one minute. That is the time needed to start the aggregates, which can operate for 96 hours without refill fuel.
Surveillance and fire protection systems
The technical and information security systems of this facility are no less impressive. From the NOC (Network Operations Center), through the most modern information systems for monitoring, continuously, in 24/7 mode, server operation, communication, and relevant statuses of equipment and services are monitored. All surveillance equipment is redundant, and access to certain rooms is limited by a card reader system. Anti-burglary systems and spatial protection have been established the building is covered by a dense network of thermal imaging cameras. From the first of April, as an additional security measure, members of the Ministry of the Interior will be deployed at the facility.
And when it comes to the quality of fire protection systems, it has not been a step, but a whole kolo (traditional serbian circle dance) further than we expected.
The complete area has been built from self-extinguishing panels, and the electrical installation is completely made with halogen-free cables. There is a system of fire detection and sounding of alarm sirens. In the event of an accident, the element of fire is restrained by NovecTM1230 gas. It absorbs the heat of the flame, while the concentration of oxygen does not decrease significantly, so it does not have a harmful effect on the employees if they happen to be in the same room in the event of an accident. In addition, all rooms have built-in relief valve systems, in order to equalize the pressure outside and inside the room during a big change of pressure.
Supercomputer and super experience of visit
In the labyrinth of rooms of the Kragujevac Data Center, the first Serbian platform for the development of artificial intelligence is hosted. And the second-strongest supercomputer in the Balkans, with a power of 5.5 petaflops. It is an acquisition worth over two million dollars, a product of the Nvidia. And he is currently only available to the scientific community. According to a predetermined schedule, faculties, institutes, and technology parks can use the full capacities of supercomputer’s neural network. This powerful platform is the substrate on which germs of ideas will develop. That could reshape and facilitate all aspects of quality of our lives.
During this guided visit, we went through the “heart” of the supercomputer and saw all of the expensive and efficient protection and power systems. We had the feeling that we were transported at least 30 years into a better future. And there was no dilemma, the State Data Center in Kragujevac is the right thing happening at the right time. Because in the age when the planet revolves around technological innovations, Data centers are not a luxury – but a daily necessity in the process of data processing and storage. Also, they are the wind in the sails of the digital development of the economy and the backbone of the progress of every modern society.
Halfway through the tour, we had already “fed” our eyes well, and the “main course” was still waiting for us. And we had yet to find out what was the reason for our visit – how the data is stored in the State Data Center.
(to be continued)