A data center is a place where a large group of computer servers and network equipment are assembled. Moreover, using the infrastructure and communication facilities for computing and hosting a large collection of data. In other words, the data center is the location of a large number of computer servers. In addition, these computers, perform computing, data storage, and data transfer work together without interruption.
The buildings of most of these centers have advanced security systems, ventilation systems, fire extinguishing systems, and electricity distribution systems, which engineers equip them with emergency power systems (UPS and diesel generators). Implementing a data center is generally based on a large network of processing and storage resources. In addition, with the help of a powerful communication infrastructure, it is possible to provide intranet services (local and intra-organizational) or Internet data transfer on a small and large scale.
The importance of data centers
In recent decades, with the decline in the price of computer equipment and the possibility of easy and comprehensive access to high-speed Internet, the demand for data center services has greatly increased. Currently, data centers play a key and very important role in the field of the digital economy. Moreover, they support a wide range of important activities of governments, society, and businesses. Additionally, the volume of activity of some Internet services is so large. So, that in some cases even up to 10 computer servers do not meet their needs. From an organizational perspective in information technology, data centers provide the necessary platform for the implementation of applications of organizations.
The most common applications of data centers in various organizations, universities, and companies include:
- Customer relation management (CRM)
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Backup from files and data and share them
- Big Data
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning
- Intra-organizational communication services
- Uninterrupted transmission, processing, and computing of big data
Large companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, with the establishment of data centers in different parts of the world, are constantly trying to provide the necessary infrastructure to meet the different needs of the international community.
Dedicated VS Shared data centers
Some data centers are shared, meaning that one physical space can host 10, 100, or even 1,000 or more computer servers, each belonging to a different company or organization. In contrast, some data centers are private, meaning that all the computing power and infrastructure at the datacenter building site is completely proprietary to an organization.
The main components of a data center
In the following we named some components of a data center:
- Network Switches
- Security systems
- Storage Systems
- Service delivery control and management systems
The design of the main area of data centers can be like this:
First, computer servers are arranged section by section inside cabinets and racks. Next, with proper cabling and compliance with the necessary standards, they are placed next to each other in regular rows.
Since the storage and management of software and backup data of many organizations is the responsibility of these computer servers, the security, efficiency, stability, and continuous synchronization of a data center is very important. Therefore, the use of the latest security hardware and software and their constant updating is very important in data centers. In fact, strong communication infrastructure and network, storage systems, processing resources, and computing are the most important components of any data center.
How data centers work
As mentioned, a data center consists of a set of computer servers that send, receive, and process data through internal or Internet network connections. To better understand how these centers work, imagine the servers behind a set of layers with data at the bottom of these layers. So, look at this example:
When you type an URL in your browser, you send a request to the server or servers in the Internet data center. Then, this request will first handle by the data center security layers. Then, you are actually sending a request to the switch in the Access Layer. Next, the switch directs the request to a physical or virtual web server on the inner layer of the network. The server receives, processes, and redirects the request to the database server and, for the response, retrieves the relevant data from the database in the data center network center.
Characteristics of a data center
The most modern and best data centers with maximum management of space and capacities, make the most of their physical space. They also enable the most powerful processing power, storage, and implementation of the network using virtualization technology. Moreover, data centers have a flexible infrastructure and always try to keep up with the rapid growth of technologies. In fact, these centers should be prepared to meet the required functions in the future.
A modern data center, with the correct implementation of the cooling system and the electricity distribution system, can significantly reduce costs and energy consumption. For example, applying standards and solutions such as Cold Aisle and Hot Aisle significantly reduces energy consumption. The most modern datacenters follow instructions and processes that have been carefully and comprehensively documented. Additionally, by establishing a NOC or Network Operations Center, these centers continuously monitor activities, security layers, and access levels, ensuring maximum quality and security of the service and monitoring its stability.
Infrastructure standards for data centers
The structured and principled architecture of the data center building, from the very beginning, requires complex technical and expert studies. Regardless of the initial cost issues, it is necessary to select the locations for the data center to locate them, in terms of geography, weather conditions, distance to high-risk points such as roads, airports, and close access to high-energy sources. High-speed communication facilities should be considered. After selecting an appropriate geographical point, building architects can design the data center building plan by considering the technical aspects and infrastructure standards.
Types of data centers
Generally, we can divide data centers into different types according to the technologies, their owners, the application, and the costs. In this section, we will introduce you to different types of data centers:
Enterprise Data Centers
These types of data centers, which are implemented and managed by the organizations themselves, are usually created and hosted in the physical area and the main building of the organization.
Managed Services Providers Data Centers
A managed data center is the first outsourcing model of data centers. Moreover, these data centers are using by large organizations and companies. As the name implies, they are usually managed by a third company. In addition, companies and organizations rent managed data centers from service providers instead of spending a lot of money on equipment and infrastructure resources.
Colocation Data Centers
Initially, many organizations expressed a desire to outsource their data centers, but their main desire was for the employees of those organizations to take full responsibility for the maintenance, management, and control of the outsourced data center instead of the employees of the service companies. This issue led to the emergence of collocation services by data center service companies. With these services, organizations that need a secure space to deploy their powerful servers can use co-location services.
Wholesale Data Centers
A wholesale data center refers to very large data centers where the service provider usually leases only a very large area of space, electricity, and other facilities to its customers. Most large companies prefer to use the services of these data centers instead of building their own data centers. Expertise also calls wholesale data centers as dedicated suites or large shelves. Moreover, the provider of this type of data center may be responsible for the maintenance and management of installation, mechanical systems, or the data center itself on behalf of the customer.
Cloud Data Centers
The cheapest type of data centers is cloud data centers, which have become very popular in recent years. With the cloud and the provision of infrastructure, it has become possible for organizations that with just a few mouse clicks, their virtual data center design on a cloud. Type of clouds are: