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Data Center Basics

By May 2, 2014No Comments

If you don’t know exactly what a data center is and what it’s used for, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Data centers are very important to the operations of many thousands of businesses, as well as millions of people. A data center is a facility that centralizes an organization’s IT operations and equipment and where it stores, manages, and disseminates all kinds of information. Data centers house networks’ most critical systems and are vital to the continuity of daily operations. Consequently, the security and reliability of data centers and their information is a top priority for organizations.

Design, Operation, & Maintenance

Data center facilities generally include redundant (backup) power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, heat, and fire protection, etc.), and various security devices. On a larger scale, data centers can use as much electricity as a small town!

Although most data center designs are unique, they are typically classified into 1 of 4 tiers based on Uptime, redundancy, and average downtime per year. In general, Tier 1 data centers are those that are utilized by small businesses with Tier 4 being utilized by those in need of mission-critical servers. Tiers 2 and 3 fall in line on the spectrum, each with its own set of characteristics and needs serviced.

Regardless of classification, an effective data center operation is achieved through a balanced investment in the facility, infrastructure, equipment, and people. From ensuring you have the right equipment to handle applications to having adequate security and everything in between, there’s a delicate balance at play when it comes to managing the many facets and elements of data centers. Not only is there the initial design and setup of equipment, but there’s also regular maintenance to ensure everything is running efficiently, ensuring you have the proper IT staff on hand for that maintenance.

Phoenix Data Center

Enterprise-class colocation and cloud services data center (AIS “Van Buren,” Phoenix)

Concerns & Threats

IT operations are a crucial aspect of business operations around the world. One of the biggest concerns is the continuity of operation. Because companies rely heavily on IT systems to run their operations, if a system becomes unavailable (e.g., unstable network, power outages, etc.), company operations may be impaired or stopped completely.

Information security is also a concern, and for this reason, a data center has to offer a secure environment that minimizes the chances of a security breach. Data centers must keep high standards for assuring the integrity and functionality of their hosted computer environments. 

While dealing with outdated and now obsolete services and offerings, IT engineers and data center specialists are increasingly looking for ways to modernize data centers, making them more appealing to organizations as well as energy-efficient. Data center “transformations” are designed to take advantage of the performance and energy efficiency increases of newer IT equipment and capabilities, such as cloud computing among others. “Transformation” is an ongoing process and one that is proving to be very effective.

 

San Diego Data Center

Inside of colocation and cloud services data center (AIS “Lightwave,” San Diego)

Data Center Solutions

So, what exactly do data centers offer? What’s so great about them versus doing everything in-house? In short, a lot. Data centers such as those operated by NFINIT include the following offerings:

  • Colocation Services
  • Cloud Services
  • Independent Network Connectivity
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Managed Storage
  • Managed Security
  • High Availability

Data Center Server Rack

Server rack inside of a data center

Data centers have evolved significantly in recent years and aren’t reserved for any specific “type” of organizations any longer; they’ve become accessible to almost anyone. From colocation services to the cloud and more, there is a data center provider and solution for everyone. The real work comes in finding the solution that fits your specific needs.

Sources: paloaltonetworks.com, wikipedia.org