top of page

All About Data Centers

Modern businesses gather more data than ever before, and many of them rely on data centers to store and protect this valuable resource. Data centers also provide users with the computing power needed to use various applications.

Data centers provide computing power and storage capacity to businesses and individual users. They also offer networking capabilities, connecting employees with the information and resources they need to do their work.

Whether a data center comprises one building or several, the underlying architecture is relatively similar. A data center consists of one or more buildings, each of which houses a centralized computing infrastructure. This infrastructure includes networking devices, storage hardware, servers, and cooling systems.

Data centers are classified into tiers based on their reliability and uptime. There are currently four tiers, with tier one being the most basic type of data center.

  • Tier-one data centers record 99.671% uptime and up to 28.8 hours of downtime annually.

  • Tier-two data centers have an uptime percentage of 99.741% and experience 22 hours of annual downtime or less.

  • Tier-three data centers boast 99.982% uptime, with only about 1.6 hours of downtime per year.

  • Tier-four data centers come in at 99.995% uptime, with only 26.3 minutes of downtime annually. They are the most robust and are designed to be “fault-tolerant.” This means they have extensive redundancies in place to virtually eliminate downtime.

What Data Centers Do

Data centers are built to handle high volumes of traffic and data with minimal latency. They’re used to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Host business applications

  • Process big data

  • Support high-volume e-commerce transactions

  • Power online gaming communities

  • Provide data storage, backup, recovery, and management

Data centers provide resources on an on-demand basis.

Suppose an e-commerce store is planning a huge product release. During this flash sale, it expects its platform and systems to be inundated with traffic.

Without a data center, the e-commerce site could only accommodate as much traffic as its on-premises resources allow. If the e-commerce store uses a cloud-based data center, this influx of traffic could be accommodated with few or no disruptions to site performance.

Data Center Infrastructure

Data center infrastructure includes core hardware, such as servers and storage equipment. Data centers also rely on robust support infrastructure, including:

  • Power Subsystems - Deliver power to sensors, instruments, servers, and other equipment

  • Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) - Provide automated backup electric power if the primary source fails

  • Backup Generators - Keep the data center online during a power outage

  • Ventilation and Cooling Equipment - Counteract heat generated by data center equipment

  • Building Security Systems - Protect access to the data center and sensitive or confidential data

  • Fire Suppression Systems - Contain and combat fires to minimize damage to the facility

Each part of the data center support infrastructure promotes operational continuity and ensures that the facility can meet the needs of its users.

Data Center Types

Data center types include:

Managed Data Centers

Managed data centers are operated by third-party service providers who offer businesses data storage capacity and computing resources. The provider is responsible for deploying, monitoring, and maintaining the facility. They deliver their services via a managed platform.

Medium-to-large businesses typically rely on managed data centers to support their computing and data storage needs. Providers can deliver these services via a hosting site, a colocation facility, or the cloud.

Enterprise Data Centers

Very large organizations may create their own data centers. These are known as “enterprise data centers.” These facilities support the needs of a single business and may be located at the company’s headquarters or off-premises.

Global organizations may have several different enterprise data centers that support the varying needs of regional facilities and satellite offices.

Colocation Data Centers

Colocation data centers (also known as colos) bridge the gap between managed facilities and enterprise data centers. Organizations that need a dedicated data center to support their operations but lack the capital to build or rent their own facilities can rent space in a colo facility.

Renting space in a colo provides access to its security infrastructure, UPSes, backup generators, cooling systems, and core computing resources. The advantage for businesses is that they don’t incur the overhead of maintaining the systems, nor do they lay out the upfront costs to rent or build a dedicated data center.

Colocation data centers aren’t the same as managed facilities. Under the colo model, businesses are responsible for purchasing and maintaining their servers and other hardware. The provider manages auxiliary systems (i.e., cooling and UPSs) while overseeing the site's physical security.

Cloud Data Centers

Cloud data centers are one of the other types of data centers.

A third-party cloud services provider runs and manages the facility. They deliver resources and storage capacity via the cloud. The provider can route computing power or storage capacity from multiple data centers or a single facility when offering these services.

Microsoft Azure, Google, Amazon AWS, and Salesforce are just a few of the leading cloud data center providers.

Cloud data centers provide more flexibility and benefits than colocation facilities. In many cases, cloud data centers may be a very cost-effective option, making them an appealing choice for businesses of all sizes.

Edge Data Centers

Edge data centers are smaller facilities positioned closer to the customers a business serves. By increasing the center's proximity to its customers, businesses can accelerate operations and better meet the needs of their consumer base.

Edge data centers prioritize speed and nimbleness above all else. To ensure that they can provide adequate scalability, edge data centers are always connected to larger, centralized data centers and/or a network of other edge facilities.

Hyperscale Data Centers

Hyperscale data centers are among the largest types of data centers. These massive facilities house thousands of servers and are designed to provide unparalleled scalability. Aside from their size, hyperscale data centers are virtually identical to managed or enterprise data centers in terms of supporting architecture.

Hyperscale data centers are becoming more prevalent because of the ever-increasing demand for computing power and data storage capacity. They’re best suited for large, rapidly growing enterprises with sizable amounts of data.

Relocating or Migrating a Data Center

Data centers that are migrating or relocating have many options available. Managed service providers and colocations provide flexible options at any scale, edge data centers provide optimal speeds, and hyperscale data centers power high-tech industry leaders.

This makes it easier and more efficient for data center managers to choose the best type of data center environment for their moves.

bottom of page