What is a Datacentre?

Datacentres Edge

A datacentre is a specially designed facility where organisations store their IT, systems and data.

You can choose to build and operate your own datacentre, rent space within another provider’s data centre, or consume cloud or managed hosting services from a cloud provider’s data centre.

Datacentres are often built differently to standard buildings. They are specially designed to house IT systems in a secure environment that meets the needs of IT infrastructure, such as power and cooling capabilities, alongside connectivity and security capabilities.

Datacentres usually have the following:

  • UPS (Uninterruptable Power Sources) to ensure that power continues running in the event of an IT outage or system failure, or the failure of one power source
  • Air conditioning to keep IT systems cool as servers and storage can generate lots of heat when running
  • Security to ensure that systems are protected from physical and cyber attacks

Data centres are complex buildings which have been designed to exacting standards to house IT systems and operations. For example, walls might be built to exact specifications to enable better cooling and airflow.

What are hot and cold aisles?

When discussing datacentres, you might hear the term “hot and cold aisles”. This refers to how data centres are arranged. Racks (the frames into which servers, storage and networking hardware are installed) are arranged in rows, usually in hot and cold aisles. Because of the amount of processing power being produced by the servers and storage in a condensed space, the hardware has fans to push out the heat so that it can escape, like on your laptop or PC. This produces a lot of heat if there are lots of server and storage systems in close proximity. To avoid hot air coming from one row of server racks and being pulled into the next row’s fans, data centres are arranged with hot and cold aisles. This enables air-conditioned, cooler air to be distributed around the datacentre to cool all of the hardware and components effectively to avoid overheating which can result in systems failing, and pushes hot air away from servers and racks.

Some ‘eco datacentres’ are also now being built in very cold locations, such as next to the sea in northern Europe to make use of ‘natural air-conditioning’ from the wind, reducing power and cooling costs.

What are data centre tiers?

Datacentres are often categorised into different ‘tiers’ depending on their security, availability and resiliency. These tiered gradings were introduced by the Uptime Institute. Here is a basic overview of each of the tiers:

Tier 1: This is the simplest form of datacentre with just one source of server, storage and networking components (with no failover to secondary systems). It doesn’t have any failover or redundant power cooling or IT system resources (i.e. it doesn’t have another power/cooling or infrastructure source to use if the first source fails),. 1

Tier 2: A Tier 2 data centre has multiple sources of servers, storage and networking components – giving it redundant infrastructure resources in the event of an outage. However, it still has only one source of power and cooling resources, or has partial redundancy at best. 2 Partial redundancy would be having multiple sources of infrastructure, power or cooling, but not as many additional sources or active sources compared to a Tier 3 data centre. These redundant resources are backup components or systems to keep the datacentre running.

Tier 3: A Tier 3 data centre has multiple sources of infrastructure components, and also has multiple, redundant or backup sources of power and cooling so that systems do not stop running in the event of a power failure or cooling issue as redundant resources take over. 3

What is Colocation?

You might not want to design, build and manage your own datacentre. In this scenario, you can use a provider, such as Pulsant, to provide colocation services where your own IT systems are hosted within an enterprise Pulsant data centre. This gives you the benefit of accessing an enterprise-grade data centre with redundant power supplies and cooling, alongside secure facilities, without the high cost of purchasing and building your own datacentre. And, colocation facilities are often upgraded regularly which can be a costly commitment if you are managing your own data centre and trying to keep up to date with the latest industry standards, regulations and technology in the datacentre sector.

What is Managing Hosting?

Managed Hosting is where a data centre or cloud provider manages your infrastructure within their data centre. They may be responsible for just the hardware (servers, storage, networking and components) or may have SLAs around supporting your infrastructure and upgrades. This means you don’t have to worry about operating your own datacentre and managing the environment in which your IT is located as this is done for you by a specialist provider.

Find out more about Pulsant’s Colocation facilities here: https://www.pulsant.com/services/colocation/ or read up on our datacentre services and accreditations here: https://www.pulsant.com/services/infrastructure/datacentres/

Resources:
(1) https://www.techopedia.com/definition/29857/tier-1-data-center
(2) https://www.techopedia.com/definition/29858/tier-2-data-center
(3) https://www.techopedia.com/definition/29859/tier-3-data-center

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