The Four Critical Components of Data Centers

If you’re online, you’re connected to a data center somehow. All sizes of business today rely heavily on data centers for business continuity. By backing up their data to a remote location, companies mitigate their potential for loss due to a hack or other disastrous event.

But what is it really, a “data center?” What’s it look like and what’s inside?

When you walk into a data center – that is after you’ve signed in and presented your government issued ID — you’ll see that it’s freezing cold and there are rows and rows and rows of servers humming along with little lights flashing. Data Centers can house the servers of one company or many companies. It can be above ground, in a tall building, or subterranean.

There are four critical components to any worthwhile data center:

1. Location – the center must be located in an area with a low threat of natural disaster (for example, you won’t find many data centers in the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast or on a fault line in earthquake-plagued Southern California). Data Centers can be found in high-rise buildings, but they must have a specialty raised floor made to withstand mild earthquakes and more efficiently control the environment. It also must be located where the fiber providers can have cost-effective access.

2. Power – redundant and backup uninterruptible is critical. If the power goes out, so does all the connections for the companies located in the datacenter. Duplicated and backup power supply is integral.

3. Protection – Maintaining an ideal environment for network systems in order for them to run optimally is key. Data centers are cool – 61 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity must stay in the range of only 40 – 55%. Additionally, fire protection is vital with advanced smoke detectors and sprinkler systems at the ready.

4. Security – Because of the sensitive nature of the information contained within the data center, physical access is restricted to the facility. Armed security guards, extensive camera systems, and other sophisticated restrictions are in place.

Some data centers will provide the raw ready space for a large company, and it’s up to the client to drop in all the air conditioning, power boxes, raise the floor, add power, cooling, arrange for the connectivity cabinets, and provide the wiring to the cabinets.

View how a data center is built in 26 weeks by Digital Realty Trust

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