Data Center: a godown to store the critical applications and data of your companyA data center is a facility that centralizes an organization’s shared IT operations and equipment to store, processing, and disseminate data and applications. Because they house an organization's most critical and proprietary assets, data centers are vital to the continuity of daily operations. Consequently, the security and reliability of data centers and their information are among the organization’s top priorities. In the past, data centers were highly controlled physical infrastructures, but the public cloud has since changed that model. Except where regulatory restrictions require an on-premises data center without internet connections, most modern data center infrastructures have evolved from on-premises physical servers to virtualized infrastructure that supports applications and workloads across multi-cloud environments.
The Role of the Data Center
Data centers are an integral part of the enterprise, designed to support business applications and provide services such as:
• Data storage, management, backup, and recovery
• Productivity applications, such as email
• High-volume e-commerce transactions
• Powering online gaming communities
Big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence
Today, there are reportedly more than 7 million data centers worldwide. Practically every business and government entity builds and maintains its data center or has access to someone else's, if not both models. Many options are available today, such as renting servers at a colocation facility, using data center services managed by a third party, or using public cloud-based services from hosts like Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, and Google.
The Core Components of a Data Center
Datacenter architectures and requirements can differ significantly. For example, a data center built for a cloud service provider like Amazon satisfies facility, infrastructure, and security requirements that significantly differ from a completely private data center, such as one built for a government facility that is dedicated to securing classified data.
Regardless of classification, an effective data center operation is achieved through a balanced investment in the facility and the equipment it houses. Also, since data centers often house an organization's business-critical data and applications, both facility and equipment must be secured against intruders and cyberattacks.
The primary elements of a data center break down as follows:
• Facility – the usable space available for IT equipment. Providing round-the-clock access to information makes data centers some of the world’s most energy-consuming facilities. Design to optimize space and environmental control to keep equipment within specific temperature/humidity ranges are both emphasized.
• Core components – equipment and software for IT operations and storage of data and applications. These may include storage systems; servers; network infrastructure, such as switches and routers; and various information security elements, such as firewalls.
• Support infrastructure – equipment contributing to securely sustaining the highest availability possible. The Uptime Institute has defined four tiers of data centers, with availability ranging from 99.671% to 99.995%. Some components for supporting infrastructure include:
• Uninterruptible Power Sources (UPS) – battery banks, generators, and redundant power sources. • Environmental control – computer room air conditioners (CRAC); heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; and exhaust systems.
• Physical security systems – biometrics and video surveillance systems.
• Operations staff – personnel available to monitor operations and maintain IT and infrastructure equipment around the clock.
Data centers have evolved significantly in recent years. As enterprise IT needs continue to move toward on-demand services, data center infrastructure has shifted from on-premises servers to virtualized infrastructure that supports workloads across pools of physical infrastructure and multi-cloud environments. There is an expression these days: The modern data center is where your workloads are.
What defines a modern data center?
Modern data centers are very different than they were just a short time ago. Infrastructure has shifted from traditional on-premises physical servers to virtual networks that support applications and workloads across pools of physical infrastructure and into a multi-cloud environment.
In this era, data exists and is connected across multiple data centers, the edge, and public and private clouds. The data center must be able to communicate across these multiple sites, both on-premises and in the cloud. Even the public cloud is a collection of data centers. When applications are hosted in the cloud, they are using data center resources from the cloud provider.
Why are data centers important to business?
In the world of enterprise IT, data centers are designed to support business applications and activities that include:
• Email and file sharing
• Productivity applications
• Customer relationship management (CRM)
• Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and databases
• Big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning
• Virtual desktops, communications and collaboration services
How do data centers operate?
Datacenter services are typically deployed to protect the performance and integrity of the core data center components.
Network security appliances. These include firewall and intrusion protection to safeguard the data center.
Application delivery assurance. To maintain application performance, these mechanisms provide application resiliency and availability via automatic failover and load balancing.
What is in a data center facility?
Datacenter components require significant infrastructure to support the center's hardware and software. These include power subsystems, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), ventilation, cooling systems, fire suppression, backup generators, and connections to external networks.
What are the standards for data center infrastructure?
The most widely adopted standard for data center design and data center infrastructure is ANSI/TIA-942. It includes standards for ANSI/TIA-942-ready certification, which ensures compliance with one of four categories of data center tiers rated for levels of redundancy and fault tolerance.
Tier 1: Basic site infrastructure. A Tier 1 data center offers limited protection against physical events. It has single-capacity components and a single, non-redundant distribution path.
Tier 2: Redundant-capacity component site infrastructure. This data center offers improved protection against physical events. It has redundant-capacity components and a single, non-redundant distribution path.
Tier 3: Concurrently maintainable site infrastructure. This data center protects against virtually all physical events, providing redundant-capacity components and multiple independent distribution paths. Each component can be removed or replaced without disrupting services to end-users.
Tier 4: Fault-tolerant site infrastructure. This data center provides the highest levels of fault tolerance and redundancy. Redundant-capacity components and multiple independent distribution paths enable concurrent maintainability and one fault anywhere in the installation without causing downtime.