If you are new to web hosting, dedicated servers, Cloud hosting or colocation solutions, you are invariably new to the world of data centers. Before we get into what makes a data center a data center, we need to explain what a data center is and how they impact your colocation web hosting services.
A Data Center Is…
In short, a data center is the building wherein your VPS, Cloud Hosting servers, colocation web servers and/or dedicated servers are stored and operated from. In most cases, data centers operate out of factory sized locations which contain redundant power and cooling systems (more on this in a bit) along with redundant security measures and 24/7/365 onsite IT tech support teams.
In short, a data center is where your web hosting solutions live.
The Components of a Data Center
The major components of a data center can be broken down into a few categories: power, cooling, security, fail safe measures and room for growth.
Power: Next to cooling equipment, power is perhaps the most important detail of a data center. All of your web hosting servers and colocation equipment run off of dedicated power source, power is the holy grail of every data center. More to the point, beyond simply being able to provide power to colocation equipment through PDU’s, every data center worth its salt needs to have redundant/backup power sources to ensure server and overall service uptime. Without redundant power supplies, i.e. backup power generators, a data center is only as good as the local city grid it operates off of. As we know, those city grids fail often.
Cooling: Just as important as power, proper cooling in a data center allows your colocation servers, networking gear and other general web hosting equipment to function properly without overheating. A good way to think about how critical cooling is to data center operations, is to think about the old 1997 Dell laptop you used to own. When you let it rest on your lap, it would heat up to the point of being uncomfortable. This happened because the laptop didn’t have proper ventilation and the fan running inside of it designed to keep the system cool, wasn’t strong enough. The same happens in a data center. Without proper ventilation – raised floors to evenly spread cooling, hot/cold isles – your server would burn up and cease to function. It is important to note, just as power supplies within a data center need to be redundant, cooling also needs to be redundant.
Security: Beyond physical colocation servers and dedicated web servers, data centers function with a high level of security needs. Why? All of the servers, be they Cloud hosting servers or shared hosting accounts, house critical client data. Due to that, the security systems of a data center need to function around the clock. A good data center maintains 24/7/365 security staff, closed loop surveillance cameras, finger print access and visitor log books. Moreover, data center security is a matter of physical security, i.e. being out of harm’s way. Physical data center security means building a data center outside of noted flood zones, outside of fault lines and outside of noted tornado alleys/hurricane paths.
Fail Safe Measures: Another major component of data centers is fail safe measures for all data stored within that data center. This means all data center hosts need to maintain and operate a backup data center wherein all data is replicated and stored. It is highly important for data center providers to supply consumers with a backup geo-diverse redundant data center facility in case of main point of operations downtime.
Room For Growth: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Investing in colocation or dedicated servers is a long term investment. As a long term investment, your investment needs to be able to grow with your demands as your company expands. All data center providers need to supply clients with the room they need to grow.
The above are the critical components of a well qualified data center. When searching for a data center, clients should also look for the “soft” data center essentials like workplace room, mobile computer monitors, parking availability and (of course) food and drink! To learn more about picking the best colocation provider, check our free top ten tips Ebook.