What is a data centre and what is a data centre used for?
“What is a data centre?” and “What is a data centre used for?” are two common questions we hear frequently at Acronyms. Therefore, we teamed up with the ICT Team at Plymouth Science Park to answer both.
Plymouth Science Park is home to a purpose-built data centre. It is a shared facility serving a wide range of public and private sector organisations and their customers. For example, at Acronyms, we make use of the data centre to provide cloud-based services to our clients.
Jonathan Harris, the ICT Operations Manager and his team manage the data centre. To maintain the specialist onsite plant, accredited service providers and equipment manufacturers support PSP further. Individual companies such as ourselves can then occupy areas within the data centre to service our clients.
Colocation facilities like this are common across the UK. Working together, means there is a wealth of knowledge and experience readily available to provide solutions and solve problems. It also allows experts to focus on their area of expertise.
What is a data centre?
A data centre is a secure facility that houses IT infrastructure such as; networked computers and data storage. Within a data centre, you’ll find servers, storage systems, switches and other components that make up a large IT network. Think of it as a larger version of the server and infrastructure you may have in your office.
A data centre must also remain operational within strict parameters for electrical supply, temperature and humidity, all without interruption. This means that within a data centre you will also find electrical wiring, uninterruptible power sources and ventilation systems. These are all designed specifically for non-stop operation. Due to a large number of computers and servers within the facility, the demand for the supporting infrastructure is large.
As data centres often house data for multiple companies, as well as remaining operational, they also need to be secure. This means that they have many physical security measures in place. For example, data centres will have access control systems that limit access to only those authorised users that require it. There will also be extensive CCTV coverage both in and around the facility and documented secure entry and exit points.
What is a data centre used for?
The main purpose of a data centre is to store and process data. This can take many forms. For example, you can store company files or provide an entire IT network through the use of a data centre.
You don’t have to own a data centre, or even deal with a data centre directly, to utilise the facilities. Cloud-based services are all based in data centres. That may be cloud storage, SaaS (Software as a Service), web hosting software or IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).
With the help of data centres, many businesses are moving their IT network to the cloud. Rather than store their data on a server in the workplace, they are storing it within a data centre. This comes with inherent security and reliability advantages. This also allows business to reduce their capital spending on ICT equipment. It minimises the need for periodic hardware refreshes and reduces exposure to the depreciation of assets.
This is how Acronyms operates when providing cloud-based solutions and IT support to businesses in Plymouth. We work together with Plymouth Science Park to manage IT networks, phone systems and more, all within the data centre.
What facilities does the data centre on Plymouth Science Park have?
Global engineering company AECOM designed the data centre on Plymouth Science Park. The overall design, reflects AECOM’s expertise and multi-disciplined skillsets in planning government and military facilities.
There are three telecommunications carriers servicing the site and each has dual routes and entry points to the facility. This ensures that internet access remains constant, even in the event of a disaster. The facility itself is “on-net” to both Telehouse and Next Generation Data in Cardiff.
It also has two power chains, protected against power surges and outages, as well as temperature and humidity controls. This keeps the facility at a constant temperature and stops overheating causing malfunctions. An external, backup diesel generator sits outside the facility to provide emergency power, should primary sources fail.
To ensure that everything within the data centre remains environmentally protected there are several systems in place. There are fire suppression systems, controlled air conditioning with backup and monitoring provision plus water leak detection.
From a security perspective, only pre-authorised individuals can gain physical access to the data centre. There is also constant CCTV monitoring in place and regular patrolling security staff.