IT is an indispensable component of a successful venture. Most of the prospering businesses running stores, also run online.
The dependence on IT, to run a business, is expurgating business-overheads and other avoidable expenses but has brought forth the need to set up data centers to store the colossal bytes of data generated each day.
There are more than 400 data centers in India alone, accounting for an approximate 9 % of the world’s data centers.
While the majority of enterprises choose to outsource their data centers, a few still maintain it in-house. Maintaining an in-house data center offers more control and liberty but comes with its own set of challenges.
In this article, we will have an entry-level but suffice discussion on the challenges of maintaining a data center.
Data centers are segmented into 6 security layers with security scaling up a level with every layer.
The Perimeter is the first level of defense and keeps curious intruders away.
A Clear Zone separates the main building with the perimeter ensuring that there is sufficient time for the ground staff to respond to intrusions.
Facade and Reception together comprise the third level of security, and Service Corridor the fourth.
The Data Hall and the Data Cabinets are the end levels of security. Installed with various security checks like retina scanner, fingerprint scanner, and virtual Id check, these are the most tightly-secured layer among all.
Physical theft is not the only fear surrounding data theft. Data can also be stolen through cyber attacks. The data centers need to deploy enough tactics and filters to screen out suspicious traffic that could lead to data compromise.
Fast-changing business needs -such as mergers and acquisitions, bifurcation and diversification- necessitate network migration.
Network migration accounts for 70 % downtime on a network. Migration not only results in data loss but also renders the data vulnerable to attack. To evade the consequences arising out of unplanned and indecorous migration, data centers have started prioritizing data. The low priority data is the first to be relocated as it helps eliminate the possibility of losing business-critical data, at just the beginning of the migration.
The truth of the fact is no migrating strategy is resilient enough. Even if the data center assures a zero-downtime migration, the possibility of data loss- however small or intangible- always remains.
Ironically, Power that runs a data center also poses as its biggest challenge. The concern encircling power (electricity) is that it is not clean, but very frequent to voltage oscillations and that too is not at all predictable. Even short outages for as little as 1/50th of a second can cause the IT systems to go down for minutes and in cases, even hours.
Generators and power backups prove to be a big help but at times- of a complete outage- may take some time to bring operations to wheels.
Data facilities need just an adequate amount of power for the highest efficiency. Just a fraction less than the ideal power can cause substantial downtime, while a fraction in excess will cause enormous overhead power expense.
Server components dissipate an enormous amount of heat to the surroundings. It is essential to not only maintain the right temperature but also to establish an equally important equilibrium with correct moisture. Too low a temperature fuels the risk of increased condensation which may cause the metal components to rust. Too high a temperature will fail to effectively cool the hardware; thus, driving the risk of server failure.
Exhausts are a vital part of the Environment Control System. Exhaust eases scavenging of hot air by the incoming cold air. Proper elimination and induction of hot and cold air, respectively, will ensure the required temperature is consistently maintained. The arrangement of racks is also a key factor underlying the swift circulation of cool air over the hardware. Racks cramped with too many cables, or overcrowded with too little space between servers will hinder the flow of air from its ends.
Operations and Performance Management
The unique tactical operations that are run in a data center require infrastructure for the data system management process. A facility is only as good as its management. The management carefully monitors and regulates the assets in a data center and is liable to maintain the correct environmental conditions all round-the-clock.