A data centre consists of a group of networked computer servers, used by organisations for remote storage, processing or distribution of large amounts of data. Colocation is a popular option for businesses looking to store data outside of their own physical offices. Even though IT hardware has gone through a process of miniaturisation, and desktop or laptop computers are enormously powerful compared to those of 30 years ago, large-scale spaces are still required to house the equipment that holds and manipulates data because now there is so much more of it. And as an increasing number of businesses are moving to cloudbased systems where business information in digital format is held off-site, there seems no end in sight for the growth of data centres around the world.
Data centre customers include governments, banks and other financial service providers, as well as retailers and scientific research bodies. Businesses of all sizes use cloud-based services, so may not even be aware that they are indirect users of data centre services.
The performance of data centre buildings allows for little tolerance of failure. Building services must operate within tight parameters. Most computer equipment requires an environment with specific ranges of temperature, humidity and cleanliness requirements. High-quality power must be delivered to the equipment within acceptable ranges of voltage and frequency transients. The criticality of the information being processed requires the facility to be physically secure and therefore generally incorporates surveillance and access control. Downtime costs are rising as more organisations rely on data centres. In general, building services equipment is robust.
Data Centres are normally designed with reliability being the most important issue and with the provision of redundancy, fault tolerance, and live maintainability in mind. This requires not only heavy generating set equipment and UPSs as well as cooling plant, but also the creation of circuits (electrical, cooling, etc), in such a way that it is fault tolerant. Finally fire alarm and fighting is again extensive and specialized!
We have been consultants over a number of data centres locally, at BOV Head Office, at GO plc (on a number of sites) and at MITA (the local Government Central Information Technology Centre). We have been instrumental in designing data centres to the highest Tier Classification possible.