BusinessData Center: How Is It Built to Serve Business...

Data Center: How Is It Built to Serve Business IT Needs

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A data center, also spelled datacenter (one word), is an enterprise facility that houses IT infrastructure. It includes servers, storage systems and networking equipment. The equipment inside a data center requires a robust support infrastructure to keep it running around the clock. It provides power subsystems with backup through Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), diesel generators and ventilation and cooling equipment.

Definition

A data center establishment houses networked computers collaborating to process, organize, and store data. A data center is also home to many servers and networking equipment like routers, switches and network interface controllers, and endless cables that allow information to flow between them. Data centers can be located on-site or offsite. On-site data centers are usually housed in a specialized space designed for computer systems, with an adequate dedicated electrical supply and cooling to keep the IT hardware from overheating. Data centers must also meet security requirements, including access control and forced entry protection. The data center industry is evolving as technology evolves. Some experts have predicted that cloud alternatives will replace on-premises data centers, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Companies tend to migrate computing tasks between environments more than ever. A recent 451 Research survey found that nearly half of the companies surveyed have repatriated workloads from the cloud to on-premises in the past year. The reasons cited include information security concerns, cost and data sovereignty issues.

Function

A data center’s job is storing, arranging, and processing data worldwide. It is done through a complex network, computing and storage infrastructure that must be highly available and secure. Industry standards govern a modern data center’s design, construction and operation. Data centers are built to serve business IT needs, either constructed, owned and operated by a single company or shared with other businesses through colocation or managed service models. In either case, the hardware is often leased to customers. That makes it important for data center operators to maintain high performance and efficiency concerning energy consumption. Keeping IT equipment running requires systems like power distribution units, UPS batteries and diesel generators. It also requires cooling to mitigate the heat generated by electronics. To achieve this, the facility has a system of fans and air handlers designed to pull hot air away from the servers and bring in cool ambient air.

Another key consideration for data centers is the location—factors like security, network proximity and cost drive site selection. Today, selecting data center examples is more complicated because companies may move workloads between private, public and hybrid clouds as they seek to take advantage of specific features or address information security concerns. Security of data centers must be a priority for enterprises, regardless of strategy. Next-generation firewall technology is used by Fortinet, a data center firewall, to safeguard big business data centers. As the amount of data grows exponentially, so does the need to quickly transmit it over long distances. As a result, some data centers are shifting closer to users to reduce the time it takes for data to reach them. It is known as the network edge and is a growing segment of the data center world.

Design

Data centers are locked-away spaces that keep computer gear safe, quiet and cold so it can perform around the clock. They have a level of physical security far beyond that found in a wiring closet or other location that needed to be designed from the ground up to house this equipment, with on-site data center staff overseeing operations. The equipment inside a data center includes servers that process information, run applications and deliver digital services to millions or billions of people. The servers are linked to storage systems, including robotic tape, solid-state, and hard drives, which store multiple copies of mission-critical data for recovery during a disaster or cyberattack. The data center also includes networking and communication infrastructure – routers, switches, application delivery controllers and endless miles of cables that help information flow through the system. Increasing energy costs and environmental concerns have made many businesses emphasize data center efficiency. It involves measuring the amount of energy used to do work in the data center and comparing it with the amount of work completed with that amount of energy. The goal is to push efficiency toward 100%, ensuring that every dollar spent on power does a useful job. It includes using efficient hardware and cooling processes and employing renewable or green electricity sources.

Security

Data centers must offer secure environments because the information they house can be invaluable to a business. Proprietary information, trade secrets, and customer financial and personal information are just some information stored at a data center. If the security measures at a data center are breached, it can devastate a business’s reputation and result in a loss of customer trust. A data center must be designed with the right support infrastructure, including power subsystems, uninterruptible power supplies, backup generators, cooling equipment and fire suppression systems. It must also be built in a geographic location shielded from natural disasters like floods and extreme heat. The infrastructure must also be efficient because the amount of electricity a large data center uses can rival that of a small town. To reduce power consumption, a data center must use energy-efficient hardware and optimize how it cools down its equipment. The physical security of a data center must be taken seriously as well, with specialized access controls in place to prevent unauthorized individuals from entering the facility. It is recommended to use multifold access controls for each room and employ a team of security guards who patrol the premises at all times.

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