Cloud services and just about everything you do online — from email to social media and beyond — rely on data centers to serve content and information to the devices that access it. It may be a bit of a peek behind the curtain, but data centers are critical when it comes to the tech and things we take for granted in daily life today.
For businesses that rely on services and networks to facilitate their workdays, it’s even more important. After all, it all depends on that data center to keep everything moving along reliably and securely.
But what is a data center — and why are data centers important?
In a nutshell, a data center is a collection of technology comprised of three main pieces. There’s the networking, which is responsible for connecting users and systems together; storage, which is where all the data lives; and computing power, which has to do with the memory and processing power that runs it all.
Because of the different functions and how they all work in concert to enable communication and the facilitation of work, data centers are vitally important to our always-on, always-changing world. Most businesses and people may not give much thought to them, but if your data center goes down, that could mean turning off your pipeline completely until the issue can be resolved.
It’s why data centers must be reliable, secure and efficient, and also why you don’t want to trust your important information architecture that you need to get the job done to just anyone. Aside from the physical hardware, software and uptime is crucial, and that can mean power subsystems, uninterruptible power supplies and the necessary ventilation and cooling systems to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
Types of Data Centers
While there are many types of data centers and service models available out there, data centers typically fall into one of four main classifications.
Enterprise business data centers are primarily owned and operated by the company itself and are optimized for internal workflows and to get the most out of their internal resources. They’re often housed on the corporate campus instead of located elsewhere, which gives absolute control but also significantly increases management costs.
The next level of data center is known as a managed service data center. Rather than the burden of having to manage a data center on your own, along with all the security and other issues to match, managed data centers take care of it all while you and your business simply rent the hardware and infrastructure you require to meet your needs.
A colocation data center, on the other hand, is like taking your hardware and processes to a place within a larger data center off site. You’re not renting equipment or software, just the network and the infrastructure — things like security, bandwidth, cooling and the physical area to host your network.
Another off-premises type of data center is known as a cloud data center. They’re typically run by large organizations like Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure) or IBM (IBM Cloud), and all the data and applications are hosted in the cloud for your business to leverage as needed.
Consider Your Data Center Architecture
For the most part, the data center that’s right for your company depends on your precise need and how you wish to leverage your resources. If you have an in-house IT team and just need the space to host your hardware and software, a colocation data center may make sense. However, if you don’t want or don’t have the resources to manage complicated systems, a managed data center could be ideal.
Only the biggest organizations would consider an enterprise data center with all the responsibilities involved, though it may be needed if you deal with sensitive information. Cloud data centers can also work well for limited needs such as a corporate website or company intranet, but you’ll need to set up and configure the servers and software yourself.
That said, many businesses have more than one data center. One type of data center may run your website while another is responsible for managing clients and your pipeline. Yet another could hold all your important documents and allow collaboration in real time, and you may even opt to use a cloud-based service to offload some of those dependencies.
To determine your need, ask yourself why your data centers are important. If you need redundancy or beefy security measures, that may define your need more than ease of management or use. However, if you need room for expansion or protocols in case of an outage, you’ll likely need to tailor your data centers to those specific concerns.
The good news is that the right partner can help provide answers to those complicated questions. Instead of feeling like you can’t move forward without significant compromises, a data center partner can help you design the data center resources that meet your precise needs.