by Paul Rudo on 27/08/12 at 10:20 am
As internet usage continues to expand by leaps and bounds, and as cloud-based data services become the mainstream way to access files on multiple mobile devices, data centers are experiencing increased demand for their various services. As simplistic as these facilities might seem — just a bunch of servers in a room, right? — there are some key things about datacenters that most consumers simply don’t know before they buy. Whether it’s redundant power or their high security requirements, datacenters have quite a few great features that often fly under the radar.
1. Access Isn’t Open to Just Anyone
Datacenter owners take security very seriously, especially since their massive facilities are often entrusted with the security of major corporate trade secrets. Most datacenters host multiple corporations’ data, complete with financial statements, future plans and strategies, and major company secrets. If just anyone was allowed to access these datacenter facilities, that information could get into the wrong hands and pose serious financial damage to any companies whose information was stored on the facility’s hardware.
This means that most datacenter facilities employ “access control”, allowing only a designated representative of each company to access the servers stored within their walls. They’ll need to sign in and out, and possibly present identification, to enter the facility. If they lack proper ID, they’ll be turned away.
2. Redundant Equipment Keeps Everything Operational
Datacenter facilities are in the business of keeping major corporations running, and that necessitates a focus on redundancy and reliability. Some might assume that such things are limited to internet or electrical connections, but that’s simply not the case. The best datacenters in the business employ redundant heating and cooling system, redundant routers, and even redundant network switches, to ensure that even a major hardware failure won’t cause company servers to go dark. It’s a key way to avoid a downtime emergency that could seriously limit the productivity of hosted corporations.
3. Server Hardware Monitoring is Often Part of the Deal
Datacenter facilities are in the business of providing perfect uptime and, to that end, their professionals will extensively monitor individual server temperatures and operations. They’ll look for abnormal spikes in temperature or other issues and, when those things arise, they’ll dispatch one of their professional technicians to fix the problem and prevent it from increasing in severity. Best of all, in most cases, corporations get access to this type of monitoring for no additional charge on a monthly basis.
4. Datacenters Enjoy Redundant Power Grid Access
The best datacenter facilities for major corporations typically employ what is called an N+1 redundant power connection. That means they’re plugged into the overall electrical grid in a redundant way, allowing the facility to stay online and fully operational even in the event of a power outage that impacts one side of the grid. This is absolutely essential for major corporations who literally cannot afford to have their source of company data go dark — even for just a few hours.
5. Independent Power Sources are Often Provided as Well
Sure, the best datacenters secure redundant N+1 power grid connections that allow them to survive most typical blackouts and other emergencies. But even those redundant connections aren’t a guarantee that any datacenter will be able to offer always-on electrical and data access servers. For this reason, virtually every datacenter worth its monthly subscription fee employs independent sources of electrical power. In most cases, that means a dedication to gas-powered electrical generators that can kick in when the power grid is completely in accessible and nonfunctional.
6. Redundant Internet Connections are Also a Must-Have at Most Datacenter Facilities
Staying online during a blackout is a big priority of any datacenter, but those same facilities must also be prepared to withstand a major internet outage. Such an outage is not unprecedented, of course, as the internet has been known to experience major hiccups that have sent major websites offline for hours. This kind of catastrophic downtime can be avoided if the datacenter commits itself to multiple tier-1 internet connections that are powered by a “”meshed grid”" system. If one specific tier-1 provider happens to experience an outage, the datacenter will automatically switch itself to a functional internet connection during the downtime to ensure that corporations are spared this inconvenience themselves.
7. Datacenter Technicians Will Perform Hardware and Software Maintenance
One of the great things about choosing a datacenter facility to host corporate data and operations is the ability to access extensive server management. Technicians employed at the datacenter will, at the consent of the corporation’s designated representative, update operating systems and software packages. They’ll even replace defective hardware to ensure the server stays online with minimal downtime. Combined with the monitoring service that looks for spikes in temperature and other abnormalities, datacenters ensure that a company’s hardware will always work perfectly.
8. The Best Way to Ensure Scalability is to Choose a Datacenter
Let’s face it: Corporate environments often suffer from space limitations that can severely limit scalability of a company’s servers. As server needs increase, the number of physical servers will also increase. Sooner or later, the business will run out of office space for these servers. Datacenter facilities, conversely, allow businesses to buy full server cabinets — and even multiple cabinets, if they require it — eliminating scalability concerns. Of course, single server slots in a cabinet are also available for smaller businesses and individuals, and those things can be upgraded in size and capability if the need arises.
9. Datacenters Guarantee Uptime — and Put it in Writing
There is no guarantee that a server will be online 100 percent of the time when a company decides to self-host. At a datacenter, however, a written Service Level Agreement typically does guarantee between 99.99 percent and 100 percent uptime on all of the company’s hosted hardware. That’s an extremely important way to keep a company’s progress on track.
10. Data Transmission is No Problem
Datacenters typically employ massive SONET or OCx data connections that are capable of transferring very large files in a small amount of time. These connection types are simply too advanced, and too expensive, for most businesses. The speed and increased productivity that comes from these types of connections cannot be overstated.
A Better Way to Move Services Online and to the Cloud
The peace of mind that comes from using a datacenter is pretty remarkable. Internet downtime, power outages, and even hardware failures, no longer cause a company’s data to go dark. Fast connections and plenty of server storage room are the icing on this high-tech cake, giving companies every reason to edge ahead of their competition.
About the Author: David Malmborg works with Dell, and enjoys writing about technology. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, the outdoors, and spending time with his family. You can find more information about Dell Cloud computing here.