Credit: OCBC Bank

Credit: OCBC Bank

OCBC Bank builds S$240-million cyber-secure regional data centre

On Mar 19, OCBC Bank announced that it has built a S$240-million regional data centre to meet the group's business needs and operational requirements for the next 30 years.

Cyberattacks and security breaches are the bane of businesses, particularly financial institutions. To defend itself against such dangers, the S$240-million state-of-the-art facility was purpose-built with the key features of top security, high resiliency and energy efficiency.

Fully operational since the third quarter of 2017, the S$240 million facility sits on a land area of half a hectare – equivalent to half the size of a football field – with a built-up floor area of 134,500 square feet across 6 storeys.

“As the data centre is a critical and core facility for any bank, we wanted a dedicated data centre owned by us and not one that is leased. This is to ensure we can have full control over its security and design – so that it is completely tailored to our exact requirements. We therefore embarked on a four-year journey to develop our purpose-built data centre from ground up – being the first Singapore bank to do so. Putting together some of the most advanced security features, cutting-edge technologies and modern facilities was not good enough for us,” said OCBC Bank’s Head of Group Operations & Technology Mr Lim Khiang Tong.

As a purpose-built facility developed and owned by the bank, the data centre is fully designed and customised to the precise needs and requirements of OCBC’s business and operations. It is also cloud-enabled to support the bank in its move towards a hybrid and private cloud infrastructure.

The data centre being wholly-owned enables the bank to have absolute control on security and physical access, and eliminates the risk of unavailability of space or capacity when needed. It also removes any risks associated with interdependency on other tenants' activities, which is the case in shared facilities.

It hosts thousands of devices with expanded capacity to serve the needs of the OCBC Group, including Bank of Singapore, OCBC Wing Hang, Great Eastern, Lion Global Investors and overseas branches across 18 countries.

“More importantly, we wanted to ensure that the transition and migration from our old facility to our new data centre was seamless with no impact to our customers – this was a huge feat considering the scale of our operations and the number of servers and network devices we have. We also had to make sure that this huge investment is ready to serve our expanding business for the Group for many years to come," Mr Lim added.

The facility boasts some of the highest standards in security, resiliency and efficiency in the region, to ensure enhanced security against cyber and physical threats, business continuity even in times of outages, and cost savings from energy efficiency.

High security

The OCBC data centre is designed to withstand external physical threats, with blast-resistant building walls and reinforced perimeter walls to prevent intrusion. It is also equipped with advanced security systems such as biometric authentication via iris recognition and segregated security zones with multiple entry barriers reinforce security and restrict access.

These security measures adhere to the Guidelines for Enhancing Building Security in Singapore, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, to counter external threats such as terrorism.

The data centre is the first in Southeast Asia to have one technology command centre monitoring and managing both cybersecurity and day-to-day operations of core IT systems.

Smart voice-controlled assistants such as Google Home and Alexa are also used in the technology command centre to retrieve information and perform tasks such as call activation during crises. Having these time-consuming tasks automated speeds up processes and frees up manpower for more effective uses, such as key decision-making during incidents.

By not locating the command or nerve centres for cybersecurity and data centre operations in different locations, coordination in crises is seamless and responses are faster. This advantage, together with the use of predictive analytics and big data, allows OCBC Bank to prevent 55% of issues from materialising and resolve 62% of issues encountered right at the onset.

High resiliency

The data centre is equipped with its own back-up power facility that can sustain full operations for at least 48 hours – sufficient fuel to fill up the tanks of 2,300 cars – when external power supply is cut.

In addition, the server rooms or data halls are designed to be independent of one another, with separate and isolated power and cooling systems.

These features enable the availability of banking services 24/7, with zero downtime even during power or system outages. This ensures any fault that occurs in one data hall will be self-contained and not affect other data halls.

High efficiency

The data centre was accorded the Building and Construction Authority-Infocomm Media Development Authority (BCA-IMDA) Green Mark Platinum Award – the highest standard attainable in Singapore for energy-saving design, operation and management.

This was achieved by utilising water-based cooling systems and cold aisle containment that reduce the energy required for cooling densely packed servers, and diesel rotary uninterruptible power supply (DRUPS) system that enables efficient power usage.

With 30% more energy-efficiency than other standard data centres in Southeast Asia, it will reap cost savings of up to half a million per annum.

“At the same time, we wanted to play our part as a good global citizen in minimising the carbon footprint from our facility. As data centres generally consume large amounts of energy, we set ourselves a target – to obtain the highest Green Mark award from BCA. I am pleased that we have achieved all the goals that we have set,” said Mr Lim.

Increasingly, organisations are tapping into data centres and other data solutions to ensure their digital transformation journey is smooth.

As reported earlier, DBS partnered Cloudera to build a central data team and enterprise data hub, enabling DBS to scale out more economically, and experiment more. The agility of the platform allows the bank to explore use cases and iterate easily and quickly, without the need to worry about ROI and build an investment case beforehand.

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