A data center— also known as a carrier hotel, collocation, or (affectionately) colo— is a place where computers and their accessories are stored. It can occupy almost any portion of a building, from the entire edifice to a single room or floor within it. And since almost every company, large or small, uses computers in its operations, data center design is one of the most rapidly expanding careers in today’s world; and it is a true science. There are many different data center design considerations that a designer must have including an extensive knowledge of electronics, heat reactions, and chemistry. Here are some of its main components.
Data center cooling forms a major part of the design system because electrical equipment naturally generates heat, and no one wants the equipment to overheat and burn out. An ideal temperature at which to store computers, according to a set of guidelines by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air Conditioning Engineers, is in the range of 61 – 75° F. Air conditioning can help to keep the temperature within that range; but it can also produce humidity, of which too much is also bad, since condensed water may cause damage to the equipment.
Access flooring is also important in data center construction. A collocation center must have enough floor space to allow the air to circulate and also to allow proper placement of the cables. The ConCore access floor system is made of panels designed to withstand the strength of steel and also reduce noise generated by plenum.
Data center equipment includes racks for housing computers and other machines; switchboards to direct electricity from source to source; sound technology; auto transfer switches to aid in switching loads between the center and the primary source; power distribution units to reduce current and voltage so that the equipment can be used; a UPS (uninterruptable power system) to keep a steady supply of power flowing to the machines so they do not shut down unexpectedly during storage; and, as mentioned above, air conditioners, plus devices to absorb moisture produced by them.
Attention must be given to fire protection. Naturally, since a data center is a place where electrical equipment is stored, almost any fire that breaks out there will be an electrical fire which water will only exacerbate. So a clean agent system, which extinguishes fires by means of noble gases or other chemicals, is essential, as are fire walls to confine the fire for a period of time should that system fail. Smoke detectors should also be installed, and employees at the center should be given instruction in fire prevention.
The final element to be discussed is the prevention of theft. As with all facilities, video cameras should be installed and security guards hired, with the stored machines being kept guarded round the clock.
Many types of companies make use of the services of a data center designer. Big businesses want to protect their computers against disasters, such as viral infection, and web commerce companies also want safe storage for their machines.