To most people a data center probably just looks like a big boring building with no windows, kind of like a prison. But to the people who spend their days on the inside, it’s much more interesting—even above and beyond the electrical and mechanical engineering. There are so many components that go into the upkeep of a data center, so let’s go over the five most important ones.
1. Environmental Controls
Environmental controls are the brains of the operation and a necessity to running a data center. We always need to be conscious of the data center’s temperature, humidity, and airflow. Too high of a temperature reduces the life of the components, while too low of a temperature will make it uncomfortable to work, so we keep the data center at around 60-70 degrees.
Obviously, water and electrical equipment do not mix, so by controlling the temperature and humidity, we can ensure there isn’t a lot of moisture in the air. We keep the air dry at about 40-50% humidity. We also need to consider airflow due to the hot and cool aisle rack arrangements. All of this airflow is dependent upon the overall temperature and humidity, so maintaining these controls is important to the survival of the equipment.
For all Tier 3 and above data centers, physical, 24/7 on-site security is a requirement because our most valuable assets reside in the data center: our customers’ data. Some data center staff and colocation customers may view this intense security as a burden to their workflow, but it’s mandatory and needs to be mandatory. In its most primitive form, the enhanced security for Tier 3 facilities is easy to work through, as it usually entails a sign in, sign out, and identification check.
Some data centers go all out with their security. They might weigh visitors upon arrival, so if there’s a huge weight discrepancy on the way out, that person will be searched. Some have retina or fingerprint scanners. And some even have a series of doors to pass through, each with their own identity check, before workers can reach their destination.
There have been far too many times where a data breach has happened in a center that boasted impenetrable door locks, bullet proof windows, and/or retina scans, but without having personnel physically on site all the time, those alarms can often go unnoticed. Or they’re noticed too late.
Because of the importance of having on-site personnel, SingleHop customers are only placed in Tier 3 facilities to not only protect ourselves, but also our customers’ sensitive data.
Redundancies on an electrical or mechanical level are not hard to find anymore. Long gone are the days of back office data centers or small mom and pop colocation centers with a single generator. N+1 as a minimum redundancy now rules the data center market.
As everyone knows, two (or three in some cases) is better than one, so having fallbacks for electrical and environmental controls puts us all at ease. Mission critical data means mission critical redundancy—they go hand in hand. And having redundancies in place ensures that we’ll still be able to operate and keep all our customers up and running in the event of a disaster.
Data center operations can get out of hand and messy very quickly. But our automation systems force organization upon us. Our systems won’t work without the acknowledgement of following a certain series of steps. Our inventory is a great example of this because our systems will not bring servers or services online without a thorough automated check of the work we’ve performed.
Rack layouts are another necessity of organization for our company. We must always ensure that our racks are clean, efficient, and easy to work on. We can’t do anything if there are a hundred wires tangled together. Therefore, all of our work is done cleanly, efficiently, and following steps to ensure it’s been done properly.
A data center team is the heart of the data center machine. At SingleHop, we have four separate teams across four separate data centers. But what a lot of people don’t know is that these teams operate as one.
If you were to peek inside any one of our internal operations’ group chat, you’d notice collaboration happening ‘round the clock. Chicago data center technicians helping out Amsterdam data center technicians; Phoenix data center technicians installing servers in Chicago centers: all with the help of not just technology, but each other.
Internal communication is the glue that holds our data center teams together and it also keeps our customers happy.