What’s in a Data Centre?
Data centres are obviously secured buildings, so not many people will see one from inside. To make these comprehensible to the big audience, ADA lists a ‘table of contents’ of what’s exactly in a data centre.
Rooms in a data centre
Server rooms, or data halls, house standard servers and storage units. The racks are often kept in an enclosed area to enable optimal cooling. Additional fencing or caging is used to further optimise physical security levels. Data halls are only entered sporadically and for short periods of time.
Connectivity is key for a data center. Without it, a data center is useless. All connectivity comes together in Meet-Me Rooms (MMRs) and from there the data is distributed to assigned server rooms. Each data center has at least two MMRs for redundancy reasons.
To keep a data centre running:
Diesel generators act as a power backup. When a power outage occurs, the generators are automatically activated within seconds. Specific batteries deliver power as it takes a short while for the generators to start-up. This way, the power supply remains uninterrupted. The diesel generators then take over and provide the complete power supply for the data center for the remaining power outage.
Batteries can provide power during short outages. When electricity fails completely, power is delivered via this Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) until the emergency standby system is active. The UPS apparatus also compensates for voltage fluctuations and distortions. However, batteries cannot on their own bridge the gap for power outages that last longer than a few hours or days.
All data halls are equipped with smoke detection systems that monitor the room 24/7. In the event of a fire, huge damage can be done when water, extinguishing foam, or powder fire suppression systems are activated. This is why special extinguishing gases are preferred. An extinguishing gas reduces the oxygen levels in the air drastically, which smothers the fire’s source. It is harmless to people and the equipment.
To keep a data centre cool:
High-efficiency cooling units remove the heat emitted by the air-conditioning system and release it into the outside air via heat exchangers on the roof.
Located on the data center’s roof, heat exchangers release excess heat from the turbo-cooling units into the air. When outside temperatures are high, the exchangers are sprinkled with water to increase the efficiency of heat dissipation.
To keep a data centre safe:
Control stations for security of the building and data centre facilities serve as central commands in the data centre. All important information is gathered via a DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) system and displayed on large screens. Any deviation from standard operation procedures is promptly reported.
Multiple safety measures
Data centres need to ensure the security of both digital and physical assets. Whether a data center supports a single client or provides hosted services for thousands, they are (partly) responsible for the sensitive information their customers rely on to conduct their business. A data centre has fencing and a secured gate to keep unwanted visitors out. In addition, multiple video cameras, (such as CCTV cameras) monitor the exterior premises and the building. The cameras are arranged in such a manner that one camera also monitors another one. This means that, should a nearby camera fail, continuous monitoring is still assured.