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Data centers are comprised of multiple elements which provide safe, secure locations for data and equipment. The components used in a data center include power supplies, communication and storage equipment, fire suppression equipment, heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and monitoring systems.
A data center is a facility that centralizes an organization’s shared IT operations and equipment for the purposes of storing, processing, and disseminating data and applications. Because they house an organization's most critical and proprietary assets, data centers are vital to the continuity of daily operations. Consequently, the security and reliability of data centers and their information are among any organization’s top priorities.
In the past, data centers were highly controlled physical infrastructures, but the public cloud has since changed that model. Except where regulatory restrictions require an on-premises data center without internet connections, most modern data center infrastructures have evolved from on-premises physical servers to virtualized infrastructure that supports applications and workloads across multi-cloud environments.
The Role of the Data Center
Data centers are an integral part of the enterprise, designed to support business applications and provide services such as:
Today, there are reportedly more than 7 million data centers worldwide. Practically every business and government entity builds and maintains its own data center or has access to someone else's, if not both models. Many options are available today, such as renting servers at a colocation facility, using data center services managed by a third party, or using public cloud-based services from hosts like Amazon, Microsoft, Sony and Google.
The Core Components of a Data Center
Data center architectures and requirements can differ significantly. For example, a data center built for a cloud service provider like Amazon satisfies facility, infrastructure and security requirements that significantly differ from a completely private data center, such as one built for a government facility that is dedicated to securing classified data.
Regardless of classification, an effective data center operation is achieved through a balanced investment in the facility and the equipment it houses. In addition, since data centers often house an organization's business-critical data and applications, it's essential that both facility and equipment are secured against intruders and cyberattacks.
The primary elements of a data center break down as follows: