A Data Center Hardware Overview
The internet is a universal network – and its ‘universality’ is only expanding further! As web technologies are maturing and the number of internet-enabled devices in the average business or household increases, there is a corresponding increase in demand for data centers.
A data center is a facility that houses hardware pertaining to data storage, processing and transfer. A regular data center contains hardware units catering to the computing, data storage and networking needs of the system. They are designed to centralize data processing and keep processes running with as little downtime as possible.
While many people have a broad understanding of what goes into building a data center, here’s a list of the hardware components required to build a data center to help provide a better understanding.
Servers are the heart of a data center. These units of hardware are responsible for storage, analysis and transmission of data. The three major types of servers are blade servers, rack servers and tower servers. Modern data centers use rack servers, wherein multiple servers are stacked within a rack.
Selecting the right racks is an important consideration in the setup or management of a data center, and is also a factor that’s often overlooked. Server racks are of two major kinds – Open Racks and Cabinets – and support the physical weight of the servers, storage devices and switches. While Open Racks allow for better visibility and easier handling, Cabinets are the more secure and stable units. It is important to select the right racks or cabinets for your requirements, in order to balance accessibility and functionality.
Coaxial, twister and fiber optic cables are used in data centers to connect switches, storage devices and servers. Fiber optic cables allow for faster transmission, and they are therefore used heavily in modern data centers. As cables are the units ultimately responsible for the smooth and timely transmission of data across the network, they play a central role in the functioning of a data center. The usage of fiber cable raceways helps to protect and segregate fiber cables, for increased efficiency.
The connector units of data center hardware, switches are responsible for linking multiple devices together. Switches function based on the hardware addresses of devices.
NAS (Network Attached Storage) and SAN (Storage Area Network) are the two most commonly used types of storage systems in modern data centers, with SAN providing higher speeds and more efficient access to the stored files and block level data.
Apart from these basic units, without which the Data Center cannot function, many other factors also come into play which are sometimes not given the same importance by those of us setting up or engaging the services of a data center.
Data centers require 24×7 power availability and must therefore employ backup generators and multiple data routes to ensure Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). This is true no matter the physical location of the center, but is especially the case when the data center is located in a country or area where power supply is known to be unreliable.
The physical space where the data center is set up must be resistant to natural disasters like flooding, earthquakes, fires, etc. This is of course in addition to physical security systems and access control systems to keep the data private.
Data centers require that multiple servers be placed in close proximity to one another, in a limited space. That being the case, there are high chances of equipment overheating rapidly, in spite of the units’ internal fans. Server rooms must therefore be maintained at a specific temperature as prescribed and planned during setup, through the use of external HVAC equipment, for smooth functioning.
Policies and Procedures
Maintenance and management of the physical hardware requires the strict adherence to certain policies and procedures that need to be followed. This could include scheduled servicing, downtime protocols, or even housekeeping.
You may not be ready yet to set up your own data center based on this article – but we do hope you’ve learned some of the basics about what goes into creating and managing an efficient data center! At Hardy Racks, we advise our clients on how to maximize data center efficiency, and deliver the components and accessories required. To know more, get in touch today!