What is a Data Center?

Have you ever asked yourself, where does all my data go? How about what the difference is between data centers and the cloud, or are they really different at all? Maybe you’ve wondered why we need data storage facilities if it is all digital? Before we answer all of these questions and more, it is critical we first establish what a data center is.

A data center is a centralized location that houses networked computers, servers, and storage used by a variety of organizations to store and process massive quantities of data. As businesses increasingly begin to rely on the enterprise-level applications, services, and data located at these hubs, data centers have become a critical asset for successful business continuity.

These centers intend to provide storage for very high quantities of data and network traffic with minimal latency or delay in receiving that information. For this reason, data centers are an integral part of business-level eCommerce purchases, online gaming platforms, private cloud hosting, big data and machine learning analytics, and more. In short, a physical, centralized data storage facility.

So why do we need these data centers, and why aren’t a few rows of servers in a spare room on-campus insufficient?

Why do we need data centers?

A global leader in storage estimates there will be 175 Zettabytes (1 Zettabyte = 1 Trillion Terabytes) of data generated and stored by 2025, up from just 4.4 ZB in 2013. That massive quantity of data needs to go somewhere to be saved, otherwise, it would disappear. By the end of 2020  alone, there was over 44 ZB of data in the digital universe, more than 40 times the number of stars in visible space.

Centralized data hubs managed by data center solutions are an inseparable part of managing and maintaining the exponentially growing datasphere. By 2018, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were being created every day, and that number has  grown exponentially since.

So how can businesses house such immense quantities of data? Server rooms on-campus could be an option, but these generate a ton of heat and require a great deal of energy to keep cool and running smoothly.

The amount of energy required to cool these server rooms can be equal to the cost to run them, which is extremely inefficient. Therefore, data centers are an ideal solution to keep the hardware and data itself in a separate but centralized location.

Organizations can pay for space and power requirements to house their data in a rented environment, or build their own space if necessary, to house their server and storage hardware. This keeps the data in a temperature-controlled environment that is secure and monitored 24/7. This also includes backup power supplies and redundancies to prevent downtime at all costs.

Now that we’ve established the importance, let’s talk briefly about the different types of data centers available

What types of Data Centers exist?

There are five examples of data centers that can be found frequently today, though as technology evolves, this list may expand.

  • Colocation: A colocation center or “data hotel” is a rentable space with the necessary equipment, network bandwidth, and space from the owner of the site.
  • Cloud: Third-party cloud services can provide users with a virtual data center in the cloud, allowing them to use specific applications without needing to rent or purchase hardware i.e., Google Drive.
  • Edge Data Center: Edge data centers are smaller, decentralized data centers that are located as close to the end-user or data source(s) as possible. These are perfect for expanding IoT deployments and minimize lag and latency by performing data collection and analytics at the data source.
  • Enterprise: A data center owned and operated by a private organization or business. This is designed to process and analyze internal data streams and host and run critical applications.
  • Micro Data Center: Micro data centers are similar to Edge data centers in scale, as they can be as small as an office. However, they are only in charge of storing and processing data for a certain region.

Let’s take a deeper dive into edge data centers, and how they are changing the landscape of data storage and processing.

Data Center Tier Breakdown

With the different types of data centers established, we can now look at the tiering of data centers. Data centers are placed in different tiers from Tier 1 to Tier 4 according to the redundancies and backup components in place, as well as the expected annual downtime. In terms of data center management, the higher the tier, the less expected maintenance, and upkeep required.

Tier 1 has an expected uptime of 99.671%, equating to nearly 30 hours of downtime annually, and has only a single path for cooling, and few redundancies or backups. Tier 2 also has a single cooling path but does have some backups in place, and an expected uptime of 99.741%, or 22 hours of annual downtime.

Tier 3 offers multiple cooling and power paths, redundancies, and backups to provide for maintenance and updates without taking it offline, and an expected uptime of 99.982%, or around 1.6 hours of downtime per year. Lastly, Tier 4 data centers are fault-tolerant with complete redundancy and backups for every component, and just under 30 minutes of downtime annually, or 99.9995% uptime.

Data Centers vs. Cloud Centers

Historically speaking, on-premises or “on-prem” data centers have been used by organizations from smaller businesses to multinational enterprises. Like we mentioned earlier, this means building and maintaining a personal server center with all the necessary IT infrastructure on-site. This includes everything from the server blades to cooling fans and UPS power supplies and everything in between.

On the other hand, the more modern cloud data storage has become increasingly popular as more and more organizations of all sizes move their storage and data collection virtual. Cloud data centers are much simpler to maintain, and can often be a more affordable option, as all the necessary infrastructure and software is hosted and managed by a third party.

Now let’s wrap up by taking a look at what Galooli is doing in the data center space and how operators and renters can maximize their energy efficiency and cost savings.

How is Galooli changing data center use?

Galooli provides solutions for data centers in the form of our remote and energy management solutions. Beyond fleets and telco sites, we can monitor the energy and HVAC assets for data centers and provide live alerts for operators the second something is amiss or running improperly

By giving a heads up to the organization, we can reduce downtime and prevent damage or loss of data or the need for hardware replacement due to improper cooling. We can also provide analytics that points to where energy inefficiencies are occurring and provide actions that can be done to remedy them.

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