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What is a Data Center!

Data Center

A Data Center is a highly secured place where lot of data is received in digital format from user, processed, sent back to user and stored securely in different devices. All this data communication happens using wired or wireless network, which we generally call as internet and wi-fi. Since there is a huge amount of data coming in and going out, hence a very high bandwidth network connection is used and very high speed servers and network switches are used to process huge amount of data every second. Few years back, data received and processed at Facebook data center was more than 500 TB (Terabyte) per day. This included all our picture, video post, comments, likes and shares etc. All email services, social media etc around us have their data center at some or the other place like Facebook, Google, Instagram, Amazon our any other service you name it which you are accessing over internet. This post which are reading now is stored somewhere in a data center anywhere in the world. Your are just opening it through a link, reading it, leaving comments etc. The comments again gets stored in same data center.

Data center is designed in such a way that they can operate 24 hours a day and for 365 days in a year. The downtime of a Data Center is not more that 0.5% throughout a year. That means for an entire year data center is up and working for more than 99.5% time without any interruption. This means we need very high quality servers in data center which should keep running for years without failure. We know that when any electrical/electronic equipment is operated for long time the components inside them slowly heats up. And in long run if that heat is not controlled the component of devices fails and hence the device stop working. The servers and other equipment operating inside data center also generate heat as they operate at high speed consuming lot of power. To maintain temperature of these device cooling arrangement is their for all data center. If this arrangement is not available, the devices cannot run for years without failure. There are multiple PAC (Precision AC) in place to maintain this cooling. The temperature is maintained between 21 to 23 degree Celsius, some data centers also keep 1 degree higher i.e. 22 to 24 degree Celsius. Multiple AC sets are used so that they can operate alternately and if one AC or set of ACs fails, the other can manage the temperature till the failed one is repaired.

The other requirement to keep the data centers running continuously is uninterrupted power supply. To fulfill this requirement multiple UPS are used to feed power to data center, in case if one set of UPS fails the other set is able to power the devices in the data center. The UPS is backed up by grid supply and set of huge AC power generators. These are mostly Diesel Generators (DG). In some data centers instead of using traditional battery backed UPS, they use Dynamic Rotor UPS also known as DRUPS. They don's use any battery bank rather they use Asynchronous AC motors and a huge flywheel rotor to keep supplying power in case of power failure. This avoids use of batteries which need replacement on time to time as they have limited life.

IT devices used in Data Center:

Server: Servers are used to process the data coming in and going out of data center. Servers have multiple processor which work in parallel to process more data every second. A server can have 2, 4, 8 and more processors on its mother board. Based on number of processors, they have RAM banks for each processor. These RAM banks provide temporary memory for respective processor to hold the data being processed. They have some permanent storage in form of Hard Disk drive (HDD) and Solid State drive (SSD) to permanently store the processed data for future use. HDD used mechanical rotating disc and moving head hence have limited speed of operation. Whereas the SSD are electronic storage with no moving item hence have higher speed of operation. SSD are nothing but Flash Drives with higher capacity. Flash Drives are nothing but pen drives or additional memory cards which we use in our mobile phones to enhance storage.

Storage Device: Though all servers have HDD/SSD as permanent storage but there is a limit of this storage and since huge data is processed every second hence we need much more storage. For such requirement lots of storage devices are connected to these servers over the network which store these processed data. These storage devices contain lots of HDD or SSD connected in array making huge storage capacity. New array of disk can be added at any point of time based on business requirement, thus increasing storage further.

Backup Device: These devices also store data but are mostly used to compress and backup the server data which serve as backup and can be restored in case of complete failure of any server whose backup is kept in these devices. Normally the backups are scheduled at fixed intervals so that automatically the backup is created on the scheduled date and time and at any pint of time we have a latest copy of backup available.

Network Device: To interconnect all the servers, storage and backup devices, we need network devices which are generally switches, routers, WAN optimizer and load balancing devices etc. Switches connect the devices inside the data center with each other hence devices are able to communicate. Routers are used to connect one data center to other data center or different networks at different locations on the globe. WAN optimizer as the name suggest, optimizes the data over Wide Area Network (WAN) so that load on network is managed. Load balancing devices are used to balance the incoming traffic and route them to different data centers or servers so all traffic load doesn't come on one locations and users don't find slowness accessing the data or website etc.

Security Device: Security of data is the greatest concern in IT industry hence the same applies to data stored in data centers also. Lots of hackers are always hunting for loop holes in network security and the moment they get any chance they hack the data or server itself. Similar instances have happened in last few years and companies have to pay good amount of money to these hackers to release their servers or data. User data is very precious either personal or professional and hence all data center network implement security on their networks to protect such attack. Most common device used for network security is firewall. As the name suggest firewalls are device which create a barrier (Wall of fire) for unwanted data traffic inside data center. Other security device are IPS (Intrusion Prevention System). IPS reads the digital signature in the incoming data traffic and any data flow with suspicious digital signature is blocked.

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