What Is a Data Center?

In the modern world, the importance of data cannot be underestimated. All businesses – big and small – rely on data one way or another to execute their daily operations.

“Today, every company is a data company. Whether they know it or not.” – Forbes

Therefore, data storage is important, whether you know it or not.

The majority of businesses choose to house their data in an off-site data center. In this article, we’ll breakdown what a data center actually is, what its functions are, and how it can help SMBs thrive in the contemporary business landscape.

What is a data center?

Put simply, a data center is a facility that businesses and organizations use to store their networks, applications, and data.

Modern data centers look quite different from those that dominated the market just a few years ago. Today, traditional on-site infrastructure and physical servers have given way to virtualized, cloud-based infrastructure.

These cutting-edge centers support applications and networks across a whole selection of geographically distinct infrastructure. They stretch through public and private clouds via computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices. They are in a continual state of flux, offering users an unprecedented level of flexibility and scalability.

Why do data centers matter to businesses?

Data centers are essential to businesses of all sizes and scopes, operating across countless industries and sectors. Why? Because they support business-critical operations, applications, and activities, such as:

  • File Sharing and collaboration services for enhanced workplace productivity
  • Email
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Communication services, such as VoIP
  • Productivity applications
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Big data

Data center components

A whole lot rides on a data center’s ability to deliver its service quickly, efficiently, and reliably. To achieve this, data center design typically includes the following components:

  • Routers
  • Firewalls
  • Storage systems
  • Servers
  • Switches
  • Application delivery controllers

Vitally, these components must be protected with state-of-the-art security defenses. Six out of every ten businesses have experienced a data breach in the last three years – with so much at stake, data storage providers are continually updating their software, technology, and even physical practices (locks, surveillance, and even security guards) to minimize risk.

What supports the components of a data center?

The hardware and software components of a data center demand significant resources and infrastructure. To ensure they continue functioning at peak performance – even during power outages, severe weather events, and other interruptions – data centers usually include:

  • Power subsystems
  • Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)
  • Fire suppressions systems
  • Advanced cooling systems
  • Ample ventilations
  • Backup generators
  • Connections to external networks and other centers

Are data centers subject to industry standards?

Yes. Businesses, organizations, and even governments rely on data centers in order to undertake their daily operations. What’s more, data centers are often tasked with housing private or sensitive information; information that, if it found its way into malicious hands, could be used for nefarious purposes.

The most common standard for data center design is ANSI/TIA-942. This ensures compliance with one of four categories:

  • Tier 1 – Basic site infrastructure. Tier 1 data centers provide limited protection against physical threats, such as in-person security breaches and natural disasters.
  • Tier 2 – Redundant-capacity component site infrastructure. Tier 2 data centers safeguard data against most physical events.
  • Tier 3 – Concurrently maintainable site infrastructure. Tier 3 data centers protect data against almost all physical events. What’s more, most components used in the center can be replaced without causing downtime.
  • Tier 4 – Fault-tolerant site infrastructure. Tier 4 data centers offer the highest level of protection against physical events. All components used in the center can be removed, replaced, upgraded, or repaired without causing disruption to the end user’s experience.

Considering a data center for your business? GroupOne can answer any questions you might have – reach out today.