Do you REALLY need a Cage for your Colocation?

This is the question asked by many of our customers as they move in to one of our data suites.

Let’s take a small step back. Just to be clear, data cages provide a secure method of segregating customer racks and equipment into defined zones, providing a high level of security for equipment in a facility like our data suite that contains multiple users.

With a growing need to provide a secure method of housing equipment within a co-location data centre environment, custom data cages offer added peace of mind and security.

But do you REALLY need them?

To answer this question, the conversation typically goes something like this, with the customer saying:

  • We need ultra-secure co-location and cages are the only way to stay secure.
  • We have a national/global compliance requirement to meet.
  • We’re not sure if our generic requirements demanding cages take into account the ultra-secure facilities like these
  • We do not expect to change the setup once we are in the DC

To ensure that the customer has the full picture we explain that cages are:

  • Expensive to build - $20k in CapEx for a 5 rack cage
  • More expensive to rent. Between 20% and 30% per rack between because they can take up lots of dead space that can’t be re-used
  • Not very scalable - you can’t increase or reduce space in line with change of business (many organisations end up over-committing to cage space that they never use)

At this point, we reiterate the details of our ultra-secure facility.

After this type of discussion and some further consideration, about 30 %, or one in three customers decides that given the balance of benefits over costs that they don't actually require a cage at this stage.
We then explain that each of our data centres consists of a series of 5 big cages with time stamped access logs and 24 x 365 security guards.

This extra security benefit seems to be sufficed in meeting the needs of the great majority of our customers.

For instance a global HR process outsourcer with access to private employee records was considering whether to add the security of a cage, yet after discussion of their privacy and security needs was comfortable with this standard collocation with add-ons like biometric locks and motion sensor cameras.
For those with PCI and Compliance requirements who typically need more security, may want to consider another option, the concept of a Class B rack.  A Class B rack is a high security rack with hardened steel outer and a range of biometric or high secure locks.  They can be physical connected to each other or “bayed” together to form a “cage” and connected to the outside world with steel conduit.  A typical Class B rack is approximately 50% cheaper than a cage in set up and does not generate dead space costs.  
Another add on for consideration is the addition of motion sensitive video surveillance for additional monitoring.

Customers who have adopted “non-caged” approach have typically found that it was much faster to deploy and easier to upgrade or downgrade as their needs changed.
There are still customer for whom the aforementioned options are still not secure enough, those are the few customers who REALLY need a cage. If this is you, we can still cater for your needs quite easily.

As you can see there are many options between rack and cage. Your unique security needs will dictate whether or not you REALLY need a cage, but hopefully you are now better aware of the variety of options available in between.
If you’d like to learn more, discuss your needs in detail or learn how other organisations have been answering this question, please contact me at

Added 1 September 2014

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