Cyxtera Blog: Data Centers

Written by Greg Touhill on November 12, 2019

Advice from First US CISO Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Touhill: Data Center Trends

Retired Brigadier General Gregory J. Touhill, first Federal CISO of the United States discusses data center trends.


With “cloud-first” and “cloud-smart” mandates in both public and private sector organizations, we’ve seen cloud adoption rates rising. Some pundits have said this will result in the “death of the data center.” I disagree as the reality is that clouds live in the data center.

Data centers remain essential, relevant and critically important because not all workloads are suited for the cloud. So when investigating data center services, it’s important to look for the fundamentals and not be seduced by glitzy exteriors or lobbies. You must consider:

  • Physical security. Does the facility have the right physical security measures for your mission? Evaluate the exterior and interior of the facility. Are there adequate security and physical controls to protect your information and provide mission assurance? Do you have the means to audit the effectiveness of the physical security controls and countermeasures? Is the facility a high-profile facility that draws great interest or a low-profile facility that blends in with its surroundings?
  • The people. Does the facility have the right people, with the right skills, and the right mission focus to support your mission? Do the data center operators practice great security? Do they exercise and document security measures? Do the data center operators have expertise in all areas of data center operation, including security?
  • The facility. Does the facility have the foundational infrastructure to support your business? That includes power, HVAC, humidity, cage and vault, access controls, etc.  Is the facility able to meet your current and future needs? Is it capable of expanding with your business?

One of the things my time with the United States Air Force taught me was to never fly into a cloud without knowing what was inside or on the other side. With clouds living in data centers as well as your key mission-essential workloads, it is essential that you do your homework. Make sure that your information is properly protected with the right people, processes, technology and secure data center infrastructure to ensure you can always execute your mission.

Read other advice from me on modernizing IT and top security concerns.