You’ve probably heard the term “data center,” but you’re unlikely to know what they are unless you’ve toured one. This brief article will give you the very basic facts.
A data center is an expansive warehouse-like facility that’s designed specifically to house thousands of servers. They have numerous very high-speed connections to the Internet, redundant power, fire suppression systems, and stringent physical security. Simply put, a data center is the very best place you could house your server equipment.
Location is Key
Despite the fact that data is transported at nearly the speed of light on the Internet, the physical location of individual data centers is still a major consideration. In order to deliver services within seconds to any user in the world, data centers must be situated strategically for optimal economy and efficiency. For instance, the Amazon CloudFront service takes advantage of dozens of highly dispersed data centers to reduce latency and ensure reliability. Las Vegas is especially well-suited for data centers because it’s less prone to natural disasters than most other places in the world.
As with all electronics, heat is the number one killer of servers. That's why heat dissipation is key to the performance of any given data center. Servers are stored in racks and organized in rows so HVAC cooling systems can keep them cool. Facilities like Microsoft's Tukwila data center also boast huge banks of emergency batteries and massive diesel backup generators to ensure an uninterruptible power supply in the event of a power outage.
Energy & Environment
Data centers use massive amounts of power and strive to make their facilities as energy-efficient as possible. Thanks to abundant renewable energy provided by hydroelectric dams, the Pacific Northwest is a popular region for the construction of data centers. The Switch SuperNAP data center in Las Vegas is a prime example of a data center that takes energy-efficiency and innovation to the next level.
The Future of Data Centers
As the adoption of cloud computing increases, the demand for data centers will grow, especially in areas like Las Vegas where the climate is favorable, and there is available land and a lower occurrence of natural disasters. Cobalt Data Centers is scheduled to open Dec. 3 of this year, and offers amenities for its customers including a business center, lounge, kitchen, and conference rooms. Viawest is in the process of opening their new Lone Mountain facility, and other data centers in Las Vegas are likely to expand their footprint to meet the increasing demand.