Morbihan. Morbihan Energies: data center to protect computer data of local authorities
Posted on February 2, 2023
Imagine an external hard drive in the size of a 200 m2 building and you will have an idea of what a Data Center is and what it is used for. And it is this equipment that is about to build Morbihan Energies, an inter-municipal syndicate that unites most of the municipalities of Morbihan. This should enable a significant improvement in local authority computer security in the department. Because this data center will store data from municipalities in huge isolated slots and protect their integrity like your hard drive or USB key. The increasing number of cyber-attacks against public services gives this initiative a special dimension.
Data-rich municipalities are…disorganized
However, the idea has been on the minds of Morbihan Energies leaders for several years. “Communities have become aware that they hold a lot of information, which they keep more or less well. Since 2018, we at Morbihan Energies have been aware of our needs in this area,” summarizes Joe Brohan, president of the inter-municipal syndicate that responded to the call for projects from the state. Morbihan Energies is best known for its activities in the service of communities in terms of energy supply. It is thanks to his activity that most of the public facilities of the department were saved from this year’s increase in the price of electricity (read our report by clicking here). However, its charter allows it to extend its activities to data protection.
It is especially relevant for municipalities. “Many of them don’t have competent staff to deal with these kinds of issues, especially with the GDPR being so controlled. It is clear that communities today must take up this challenge. You still need to know where to find and identify the data…,” adds Jo Brohan. However, the municipality maintains a large amount of information from many sources (civil status, cadastre, etc.) and is often scattered. A
Project King Jack Noel
“Communities have been disarmed. Out of 249 municipalities in Morbihan, only 11 have a DSI (computer services department) on staff,” points out Jack Noel. This municipal councilor from Josselin, a well-known expert in cyber security, is at the heart of a project built by Morbihan Energies. He notes that the entry into force of GDPR in 2018 has increased the awareness of local authorities and the anticipation of the construction of the Data Center by Morbihan Energies has come at the right time. “The data center will be a trusted third party. We will take the moral burden from the municipal groups.
Gradually, requests from local authorities have increased, and this problem, even if not an emergency, is in any case a constant concern. In addition, the 2020 Congress of Mayors in Lancaster is dedicated to cyber security. As the needs became clear, the idea of joint construction between Morbihan Energies and the local authorities took place. The process was accelerated with the entry into service of new municipal groups. We have now moved from thinking to implementation. A few days ago the task force decided to form an SPL (local public company) to be formed within a few days and Jack Noel to be the chairman. In this case, the intermunicipal syndicate wants to be one of the players in this “jointly built” project, not a service provider. Morbihan Energies will become the main shareholder and the local authorities will be merged.
Then, the work should be accelerated with the award of the contract in March-April and the construction works that could be carried out in 2024.
A hyper secure and eco-friendly data center
“I want this equipment to be environmentally sound in the conditions I’m dealing with,” said Jo Brohan. Because data storage centers are energy intensive. They alone account for 3-5% of global electricity consumption. This is huge. And their activity generates heat. Morbihan Energies is putting together a project for the reuse of the heat produced in its project, as well as the use of an emergency power solution other than a generator that can switch between different “clean” energy sources.
Physically, the Data Center will be a 200 m2 building located on a site a few hundred meters from Morbihan Energies’ headquarters. This distance is not a detail. This is part of this unit’s security strategy. “To design it, we took into account the most unlikely risks: fires, attacks, terrorism…” explains Morbihan Energies’ teams working specifically with the gendarmerie unit. The most significant threat is a cyber attack, against which the only effective protection is backup and redundancy.
Data center network
The data center will act as your hard drive. Data sent there by municipalities will be isolated, one of the main rules of cyber defense, but not the only one. Multiple backups will be put in place, especially those created by certain cities, for example, by networking several data centers that will store their data mutually. To increase the chances of finding the original data when the computer system of one of the shareholder communities “crashes” after a cyber-attack.
The building will be equipped with 20 computer bays, enough to store all the data from all the communities of Morbiha.