Your business needs to maintain a reliable backup of digital data, like your customer database, documents, images, emails, accounts and so on.
That data is mission critical, so it all has to be kept safe from theft, fire, flood or accidental deletion. If you run a smaller company, it’s likely your data is stored on a simple server in the office.
What happens as your business grows?
As demand grows for your company’s products or services, you’ll collect more data. As a result, you inevitably end up needing more than a single server. Eventually, you end up with a whole room of the things. This brings new demands and costs:
- You need air conditioning, because lots of servers create lots of heat. If you don’t keep them cool they can fail catastrophically. Providing cooling using traditional air-conditioning units can be very expensive.
- You need an IT professional to make sure your servers keep running reliably. For 24/7 cover you’ll probably need more than one person.
These requirements can become a major financial, logistical and security headache.
Moving to a data centre
A common solution to these problems is to use a purpose-built data centre. Maintained by network specialists, mechanical experts and electrical engineers, a data centre is a secure, computer-friendly environment run at the perfect temperature for the servers inside.
From a security perspective, data centres are also equipped with their own backup power supply. This is usually an uninterruptable power supply (UPS), a large bank of batteries plus a generator to ensure power is always available.
Data centres also usually have direct connections into major internet links – also called the ‘internet backbone’ – meaning connectivity is fast and reliable.
Businesses usually put their servers into a data centre that’s shared with other organisations. This is known as colocation.
What does a data centre look like?
The image above is of a typical data centre. They have lots of aisles between servers stacked in locked cabinets (called racks). You rent as many racks as you want and you pay according to the amount of processing power, storage space or bandwidth you use.
Many providers off both DIY and full service maintenance options, so you can maintain systems yourself or use the provider’s technical support.
There are a number of good arguments for using a data centre:
- Data can be backed up easily and securely
- The risk of data loss is significantly reduced
- Internet access is fast and reliable
- The data centre provides support round-the-clock
- Your overheads are reduced
Using a data centre also makes it easy to add extra capacity as your business grows (you just rent more space) and you don’t have to worry about having lots of servers on your premises.
- Is IT the fifth utility?
- Can the cloud make you more efficient?
- Six signs your business needs a server
David Barker is technical director and founder of 4D Data Centres, the green colocation and connectivity supplier.