OCBC invests S$240 million to build 'cyber-secure' data centre

Source: OCBC

Cyber-attacks and security breaches are the bane of businesses, in particular financial institutions.

OCBC Bank has long refused to compromise when it comes to defending against such dangers. The bank’s new regional data centre, designed to support the operational requirements of OCBC Group entities for the next 30 years, was purpose-built to ensure security threats are kept firmly at bay for decades to come. It is also cloud-enabled to support the bank in its move towards a hybrid and private cloud infrastructure.

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. Being wholly-owned, it 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.

Fully operational since the third quarter of 2017, the S$240 million facility sits on a land area of 0.5 hectares - equivalent to half the size of a football field - with a built-up floor area of 134,500 square feet across six storeys. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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 timeconsuming tasks automated speeds up processes and frees up manpower for more effective uses, such as key decision-making during incidents.

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

High efficiency: The data centre was accorded the BCA-IMDA (Building and Construction Authority-Infocomm Media Development Authority) Green Mark Platinum Award - the highest standard attainable in Singapore for energysaving 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 S$0.5 million per annum.

Said Mr Lim Khiang Tong, Head of Group Operations & Technology, OCBC Bank: “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.

“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.

“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.”

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