Data centers are becoming more and more popular as businesses realize the benefits they offer. However, many people don’t have a good understanding of what data centers are and how they work.
In this article, we will discuss what data centers are, the different types of data centers, and the benefits and challenges of using them.
What Is a Data Centre?
A data center is a building that has computers and other important parts. The building also has backup power, more air flow, and raised flooring.
Telecommunications lines from the service provider run to the data centre, which often has high-bandwidth connections to the Internet backbone for efficient transfer of data to the private or public cloud.
Data centres are built for a number of purposes, from providing internet access and online storage to powering large-scale computer networks, including those used by technology companies such as Google and Facebook. Data-centre design is a part of information technology infrastructure optimisation (ITIO), which can result in faster delivery of content, reduced IT costs, and improved customer satisfaction.
How Do Data Centres Work?
A data centre operates on a 24/7 basis and requires uninterrupted power, cooling, and network connectivity. It is essential that the various components of a data centre be properly maintained and monitored to ensure that availability is high and that services do not experience any interruptions.
It usually has the following components:
- A data centre provides space for racks of servers, storage, and networking equipment along with auxiliary equipment that supports the operation of these systems.
- The environmental controls consist primarily of air conditioning (cooling) systems, ventilation (air movement), dehumidification (air drying), and filtration (air cleaning).
- An uninterruptible power supply, including batteries or a generator, is normally present to provide uninterrupted power in the event of an internal failure of utility-supplied electricity. Fire suppression systems are also common.
- Network connectivity often consists of Gigabit Ethernet or faster interfaces routed through switches to each server and storage component.
- The containment system provides security for people and equipment and prevents water from entering the raised floor plenum, where network connections reside.
A data-centre design requires close coordination among architects, engineers, and IT professionals to ensure that the final plans maximise the benefits of the facility. When designing a new data centre, or renovating an existing one, there are three main goals.
The first is to provide the physical space needed for computer equipment and associated components. The second is to improve security and access controls on those spaces so they can be monitored more effectively. The third goal is to have reliable power and data centre cooling systems, regulating room temperature to avoid moisture buildup.
The Different Types of Data Centres
There are three primary types of data centers. The first type is a “collocation” data centre, where a customer leases a physical space within a larger data centre facility.
The second one is the “dedicated” model whereby an individual or company leases its own private premises from a co-location provider. These two models may be known as ‘facilities-based’ data centres.
The third option involves a ‘remote” or “managed” model of data centre services, where a customer leases infrastructure but is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep. This may be known as ‘services-based’ data centre.
Each has its pros and cons. For example, a customer who opts into a managed-services model may not be tied down to a long-term lease, allowing the business to scale as needed. This flexibility is important as companies grow.
Collocation models can be expensive and require significant start-up costs as well as maintenance fees. Remote data centre services allow customers to avoid certain costs and fees associated with having their own equipment. These will vary between data centre providers, so it’s important to take these costs into account when comparing pricing.
Benefits and Challenges of Data Centres
Data centres are highly beneficial for businesses for many reasons:
- Increased security: Data centres have strong security to protect the data from being hacked.
- Reliability: Data centres have a backup power source and a backup generator in case of a power outage or natural disaster.
- Specialized equipment: Large enterprises may need additional hardware, such as servers, copiers, phones, faxes, and scanners in addition to PCs. Data centres house this equipment.
Despite their advantages, these facilities also deal with challenges. The first one is the cost. Data centres are expensive to build and maintain.
Another challenge is data centre self-reliance. That means that a company should have reliable power, backup generators, Internet connectivity, fire safety systems, HVAC units, and humidity control. While these are necessary, they can also cause the cost of running this facility to balloon.
Some also believe that data centres are not environment-friendly. They are, after all, filled with powerful computers that require cooling systems and other pieces of equipment that use a significant amount of energy.
Businesses are constantly looking for ways to streamline their operations. Data centres are an excellent strategy for improving the reliability of IT equipment and ensuring that vital business information is available to employees and customers at all times.
But they do come with challenges that companies should be aware of when designing, constructing, using, and managing this facility.