This covers the internal structure and primary components that makes a data centre. With such facilities spreading around the world, it’s important to learn about them.
The term “data centre” refers to a facility where IT equipments are housed. These machines process, communicate and store data from all our digital activities as a backup keeping strict security protocols. With infusion of World Wide Web into everything we see today, modern data centre can be anything from a giant building covering acres of land to a small closet space with single server. The very purpose of creating these buildings is ensuring smooth operation of IT equipment under controlled environment.
Inside temperature is kept low to prevent servers and other hardware equipment from frying because each operating server can easily manage more than a dozen active customers. A lot of heat is emitted as each hardware piece works in coalition to another whereas servers are capable to process tons of data in milli-seconds. In order to compete effectively with other data housing facilities and business industries, there’s an ongoing need for improvement. More than 80 to approximately 90 percent daily work be it for home or office is performed via internet.
IT equipment and underlying software carries most of our daily activities such as communication, finances, security, navigation and entertainment so on. If you wish to know what constitutes a data centre, we’ve highlighted major components common in each facility so better read the details below:
- Building shell
- Electrical and mechanical infrastructure
- Basic to sophisticated IT equipment
Data centres are sometimes difficult to identify so as to remain unobtrusive. Both, architectural and structural components are quite basic such as enclosed by four walls, a single or split-roof that can slide to join so on. In-short, it’s quite similar to a warehouse where building’s centre portion usually remains empty (rather filled with IT equipment) instead of huge, empty boxes. Think of it as a building or warehouse running on steroids!
These data forts are constructed with similar materials and techniques as that of any typical commercial building however both structures vary a lot with “robustness” factor. As these will house IT equipments, structural components are rather bigger, better and stronger to sustain potential explosives and natural disasters. Some of the most critical data centres such as those equipped with military systems and are dedicated to defence departments may even be located deep underground or somewhere in mountain cavern.
Basic IT devices
IT equipment such as servers, cables, blocks of cooling racks on which house critical equipment so on is the essence of data centre. Asides physical hardware; internet facility, wireless network connection, mobile communication and applications also dwells within! Emergence of cloud platform paved way for abundance growth of these devices especially for businesses and their ongoing needs that makes a data centre; hub of IT operations. You’ll find lots of research papers, articles, blogs and college programs covering the topic including the information provided here.
On a professional level, IT equipment can be segmented into three buckets namely; servers, storage and communication gear. We’ll define each briefly for your understanding!
- Servers are just like typical desktop or laptop computer however far more powerful and speedy. They house various applications within their databank for instance Facebook, Gmail or even any game. They’re just the size of a pizza box that can easily be mounted on cooling racks.
- Communication (networking gear) manages the entire flow of data from one end to another across devices, within and outside the boundaries of the facility. There’re various types of communication gear but simple example would be of routers, internet devices and servers all connected together or networking switch.
- Storage equipment is where entire information (data) is saved. If storage device is specifically related or owned by a company, we usually know them as dedicated servers having entire company details and data archives from day one! Data can be anything from images, bank transactions, credit card details, archived emails and much more which makes this particular equipment more valuable.
All of these IT equipments must be kept under tight security both physical and virtual as cyber criminals are far smarter than any. Meanwhile, all these IT equipment requires electricity and cooling plus ventilation to ward off heat while work uninterruptedly.
In-case of natural disaster or any other calamity, companies/customers that opt for cloud-based servers also known as virtual computing can work safely with their smart devices required a powerful internet connection wherever they are. With this comes the need of electrical and cooling infrastructure. Let’s have a bird’s eye view of both for general understanding.
Electrical & cooling infrastructure
Electrical infrastructure takes power from utility grid and transmits it to data housing facility ensuring each equipment works successively. UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) is very important for if server(s) experiences abrupt shut down, entire data is at risk while the same can be said for security.
Cooling infrastructure ensures all your IT equipment remains cool even with heavier processing. Imagine a server or computer device burns due to overheating; it may prove fatal for workers within the facility as well as for your business. Air conditioning units known as Computer Rom Air Conditioners (CRAC) or Computer Room Air Handlers (HRAH) are subcategories.
Special thanks to eHDF data center department, middle east for providing such useful insights!