what is a data center
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What is a data center? A Complete Guide for Beginners

Many large modern companies that operate with terabytes of information often entrust all the care of their servers to special data centers. Let’s figure it out together what kind of magical place this is, how the data processing center works and what the essence of its work is.


What is a data center?

A data center or data center is a building (or a complex of buildings) designed to house server and network equipment with subsequent connection of clients to the Internet.

In order for the hardware located in it to work 24/7, the most favorable conditions have been created in the data centers – we will talk about them a little later;).

Data centers have existed in some form since the middle of the last century. At that time, only one computer could be placed in the data center (remember the size of the first computers!), And the company could not contact its owner and simply rent the resources of this computer.

In the post “Data Centers in Facts and Figures”, we already said that the “father” of modern data centers is the ENIAC computer, which was used in wartime to calculate the flight of bombs, store combat codes for nuclear weapons and make weather forecasts. But, of course, over time, the size of the equipment decreased, but the demand for such capacities, on the contrary, grew.


Why do you need a data center at all? Who is using it?

The most important function of the data center is to ensure the stable and trouble-free operation of the equipment placed in it. In addition to constant access to sites, any data center provides secure communication channels through which data is exchanged.

By renting a full-fledged dedicated server in the data center, you get a physical machine fully assigned to you. This is usually not the cheapest pleasure, which is why equipment in data centers is used mainly for large and complex projects. For example, hosting providers or banks that work with mobile services, and online applications with customer services.

For data center customers, this is a financial benefit, because they do not need to buy a separate room, expensive equipment and hire staff. It is enough to simply rent a room or server equipment in an existing data center.

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What are data centers?

The most basic category of separation of data centers is in terms of reliability and security data centers. There are four categories: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4. What is it?

Tier is a reliability indicator developed by the certification organization Uptime Institute, which is assigned to data centers.

Let’s look at each category in more detail.


Tier I

This is the base level of reliability with a fault tolerance of 99.67%. In the event of errors and failures, the work of the data center is interrupted. Tier 1 requirements do not require the use of uninterruptible power supplies and the possibility of data redundancy. The standard itself is quite outdated.


Tier II

Just like in level 1, data center operation can be interrupted due to errors and failures. However, this level provides for improved conditions for equipment placement: redundant power supplies, raised floors, redundant system resources, improved cooling systems. The fault tolerance for this standard is 99.75%.


Tier III

The main advantage and difference from the first two standards is that the data center of this level does not need to be stopped for repairs and maintenance. This is very convenient for organizations that have round-the-clock interaction with their customers. To comply To comply with Tier 3, the data center must have full redundancy of all life support systems. The fault tolerance of this level is 99.98%. REG.RU, among other things, offers rental of dedicated servers or placement in a Tier III data center. .


Tier IV

Today it is the highest level of data center reliability with a fault tolerance of 99.99%. The requirements of this standard include double redundancy and full redundancy of the entire system. This level of data center reliability is recommended for military and financial organizations of particular importance.


How is the data center managed?

The basis of any data center is engineering systems – complex professional equipment that is not available for purchase in a local server room. If we imagine that the data center is a living organism, then five main systems can be distinguished:

Power supply: The most important source of data center life, on which the stability and uninterrupted operation of the data center depends. In order for your sites to work 24/7, the building is connected to the power grid through several independent “inputs”, uninterruptible power systems are installed, and an additional diesel generator is connected in case of a complete shutdown.

Conditioning: It is logical that a machine that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year can overheat. Therefore, the computer room must be cooled very well – professional precision air conditioners are used for this.

Security: Also one of the important points. The task of each data center is not only to place equipment , but also to ensure both data security and confidentiality. These include access control system, video surveillance, fire alarm, emergency fire extinguishing system and others.

Data transfer: A stable and uninterrupted data transfer process is important for any data center. To ensure uninterrupted data transmission, both dedicated channels and public Internet networks with a wide bandwidth are used.

Dispatching:  All systems are monitored around the clock, and the elimination of detected problems occurs according to previously developed algorithms. This eliminates errors and allows you to solve problems as quickly as possible.

If you are interested in seeing how the center works from the inside, you can watch a video tour of the Google data center:


What are the advantages of placing equipment or ordering a server in a data center?


Placing a server in a data center provides the company with several significant advantages:

  • Lower costs compared to setting up your own professional server room, as well as no need to move the engineering infrastructure when moving to a new office location.
  • Continuous access to data and a minimum level of risk of power outages, Internet connection problems and equipment failures.
  • Reliability, performance and continuous improvement of the IT infrastructure of the data center, which contains a large number of various technical elements – routers, switches, security devices, data storage systems, servers, application delivery controllers, ventilation and cooling systems, cables for connecting to external network operators.


Also in the data centers there are specialists who can perform all the necessary operations with the servers around the clock. Alternatively, remote control can be used.



A little about unusual data centers

Data centers are built not only in cities, but also in places with special natural and geological conditions, thanks to which the security of the data center reaches a reliable level. If you saw a photo of such a building, you probably would not have guessed that this is a data center.

For example, one of the Microsoft data centers is located under water. The main feature of the data center is that you can use hydrokinetic energy for power and natural cooling.

Microsoft's Project Natick

Project Natick


Or another example of unusual storage centers is the former Cyberbunker nuclear bunker in the Netherlands. In 1998, it turned into the most fortified data center that specializes in data storage and web hosting.


If you are interested in learning more about  data centers, be sure to check out our website daily.