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Visa shows off data centre 'moat'

Why have an air gap when you can have a water barrier?

Credit card company Visa has boasted that one of its US data centres possesses the ultimate security feature – a moat designed to trap would be ram-raiders from accessing the facility.

As reported by USA Today and Fast Company, which both seem to have been invited to the facility, the company’s Operations Centre East (OCE) can be found “somewhere on the eastern seaboard” of the USA. The site is apparently nondescript, so as not to draw attention to itself.

We’re not quite sure how it’s possible to hide the facility in plain sight given it boasts a moat.

Both of the sources we’ve linked to above use the same language to describe the watery defence:

“Hydraulic bollards beneath the road leading to the OCE can be quickly raised to stop an intruding car going 50 mph. Any speed faster, and the car can't navigate a hairpin turn, sending it into a drainage pond that functions as a modern-day moat.”

The tier 4 data centre also packs sufficient redundant systems that Visa thinks it could run for a week without any contact from the outside world, other than data feeds. Paranoia has been taken to impressive heights with an off-site mail room that can be airlifted off-site should something nasty be slipped into the phone bill, to ensure that the health of data centre workers is not compromised.

EMC and Cisco are mentioned as the big winners in the data centre’s racks, which are housed in seven “pods” of 20,000 square feet apiece. Another two pods of the same size lie empty, awaiting future expansion. Presumably that extra space will help the data centre to go beyond the 24,000 “transaction messages” it processes every second. ®

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