We live in a time where most enterprises rely on the cloud to store their data. Gone are the days of faxes, snail mail and four channel televisions when we now have smartphones and the internet. Vital to the economy, our society’s dependence on the cloud is rapidly increasing, and consequently so is our demand on data centres which house the cloud’s data.
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Despite the fact that single computers no longer fill an entire room but are becoming more powerful, much faster and even smaller than ever before, demand for data storage is constantly growing and putting rising pressure on data centre’s storage abilities.
What are Data Centres?
Contrary to some people’s belief, data doesn’t literally float around in the ‘cloud’, it has to be stored somewhere. Instead of being held on-site on computers at home or at work, it is kept on hardware off-site in large data centres.
The foundation of the internet, data centres are individual or groups of buildings which house racks upon racks of computer servers and back up components that run around the clock. Facilities and networking equipment located within data centres are tasked with collecting, storing, processing and distributing large amounts of data.
Due to the need for specialist, skilled workers and proximity to the majority of users, the largest data centres tend to be located in or near the country’s big cities, such as London and Shanghai.
As you can imagine, data centres require innovative management systems to keep track of the huge amount of assets they contain, such as DCIM (data centre infrastructure management) software which accurately manages capacity and optimises performance.
The Four Main Types of Data Centre
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Modelled to suit the needs of a range of businesses and individuals, the type of data centre service required varies. Whether a small business or a massive enterprise, choosing the right data centre for your business is essential.
Best suited to smaller businesses, colocation facilities offer space at their data centres to rent. Everything from cooling to bandwidth and security is offered by the colocation data centre but the company renting the space supplies and maintains the servers.
Operated by a third party, managed services data centres literally do as they say, manage the services for users of the data centre. The difference between this and colocation is that the equipment and infrastructure is also available to rent.
Larger, more established, businesses occasionally build their own data centres, known as enterprise data centres. These are designed exclusively for the company’s own use and are usually situated close to the rest of the businesses premises.
Similar to enterprise data centres but based off-premises, cloud data centres are managed by a third party and access is provided via the internet. The top cloud hosting services are Amazon, Microsoft and IBM.
How Do Data Centres Work?
In very simple terms, data centre servers use network connections to send information to web browsers, much like how two computers connect via a local network. Data is distributed into sections before being transmitted via routers and wireless networks to reach the internet provider and then the user’s computer. The same process in reverse is used when a user uploads information to be sent to a server.
Why Do We Need Data Centres?
Access to the internet and cloud storage is easier than ever and always at our fingertips. We have internet access from our mobile phones and can make instant e-payments or connect with others as and when we want, often without considering where this kind of data comes from or is stored.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 40% of newly procured premises-based compute and storage will be consumed as a service, up from less than 10% in 2021, and that 70% of organisations will implement structured infrastructure automation to deliver flexibility and efficiency, up from 20% in 2021. In short, there is an urgent need for data centres to keep up with the anticipated exponential demand and there will be significant investment opportunities for this obviously crucial and successful industry.
Who Can Benefit from Data Centres?
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Data centres are vital to just about everyone, from individuals and small businesses to hospitals, universities and government bodies – basically anyone who uses data. We all need access to cloud data for social networking, photos, music, video streaming, online gaming, e-payments and all business needs.
China, for example, is home to the largest online community in the world and the largest number of online gamers. The demand for data centres is huge and growing at an alarming rate, with predictions of the cloud computing market in China quadrupling over the next few years.
Businesses which rely on their own IT infrastructure can be susceptible to outages which will directly cause losses in productivity and revenue. By outsourcing to data centres, businesses are protected against such problems as equipment faults, security and operational costs and can benefit from efficiency, state of the art technology and scalability. Some larger businesses have even built their own data centres close to their premises but most businesses tend to rent servers at colocation facilities.
Top data centres have seen considerable growth in enterprise-level demand, mostly from financial, technology and healthcare companies. Many data centres invest in DCIM to optimise efficiency and future-proof infrastructure which ensures the cloud continues to offer a fast and reliable service to all users.