Why Is It Important to Maintain Hygienic Conditions in the Data Centre

Nowadays many companies are dependent on data room, server room and data communication equipment. The world wide web is synonymous with business in today’s world, due to the need to constantly communicate data effectively world-wide, which is why a routine data centre cleaning service is imperative.

It is important that data communication systems are stable with a nil failure rate. Routine technical cleaning of data rooms, server rooms and data communication cabinets lessens the danger of hazardous zinc whiskers occurring.

Zinc whiskers are little filaments that occur on metal surfaces that have been electroplated with zinc; they’ve also been known to arise upon wood and concrete core floor panels, plenum side of floor panels, the exposed metallic surface of pedestal or stringer pieces.They are often caused by inner stresses and strains suffered through the electroplating method in the engineering of the galvanised floor tiles implemented in elevated floors.

Zinc whiskers show up from the floor panel surface area and disseminate into the environment threatening sensitive computer hardware doubtlessly triggering short circuit issues in sensitive data hardware.

It is essential regarding any server room environment that the required procedures are utilised to deal with zinc whisker contamination, avoiding the zinc filaments from causing irreversible damage to data communication hardware. Following contact with computer hardware, zinc whiskers can result in power failure and data corruption.

Because of the technical characteristics of data/server room equipment, it is essential that a specialist computer cleaning service is scheduled to routinely cleanse the data centre rooms to prevent zinc whiskers from causing data corruption and long term damage to high end data communication hardware.

In addition to the risk of zinc whiskers, there are many other good reasons why it would not be appropriate for data communication/server rooms to be cleaned by non professional general cleaners. Numerous general cleaners make use of products and equipment that may in fact pose danger to fragile data centre equipment.

There is certainly evidence that proves a large number of domestic cleaning solutions are composed of chemicals that provoke damage, when used on data centre apparatus by having an negative reaction with electrical substances and compounds.

As those trained in specialist data centre cleaning will know, basic vacuum cleaners are inappropriate for use inside of the data centre environment, and actually cause more damages than good. Simply just running a standard vacuum cleaner along the data centre floor, will cause far more contaminates to disperse and possibly build up within data communication cabinets and server rack mounts.

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Computer Fortress

Computer security is a very delicate subject because today, the world is being digitalized very rapidly as new technologies are vastly being distributed to the most remote places. Every business involves computers and they need to be safe and secure more than ever, because of the fact that all the important data is being documented and archived on pieces of hardware.

Essentials to shared computers

o For better access, most computers in an organization are linked via a network, which has to be protected by specially designed software. Now, computer security systems are used to protect data from theft, misuse, damage or any other disaster that can potentially harm stored information.

o Computer security is practically not needed if a given computer is not in a network connection or in any other way connected to other computers. Thus, when someone mentions “computer security” – most probably he or she means “computer network security”. For example, there is no chance your computer to become infected, if you don’t have an internet connection.

Privacy issues

One of the most important aspects of computer security is the privacy every person is naturally entitled to. Privacy is absolutely necessary, even if the information available is not sensitive or confidential. Any information, no matter the level of importance, could be used against certain person and may bring damage, and not just emotional. One should always be able to share certain information with certain individuals and predict what harm could be brought if it falls in the wrong hands.

The computer security in its core is a list of usernames and passwords. There are usually one person, the lead manager of the system, who have accedes to all password protected areas, in order to keep everything working and to be able to check for malfunction or any potentials flaws in the system.

History shows that it is very often the actual person who breaks down a security system who later helps it to be fixed. After all – he or she is the only one who best knows where the weak parts are and can figure a way to strengthen them. In this business, solutions are carried out by the same persons who have caused or spotted the problems. Some of these people have built the computer security systems that are your best defense against hackers.

The Data Centre Arms Race

The following installments of this article look at the progress of this data centre arms race and a few of the new generation of large facilities that have been built across the world. There are, no doubt, some which would warrant a mention that don’t appear below because of a lack of available data, particularly regarding those run by online application giants such as Google and Facebook for purely their own use. Information is more plentiful for centres run as leased hosting and/or colocation facilities as they are looking to actively advertise their specifications.

When looking at the world’s largest data centres, there are a number of ways in which their sizes can be measured, including the scale of their operation, based on power consumption, the number of servers in use or the total digital storage capacity; or their potential capacity taking into account the number of units and total rack-space available in each facility including un-utilised capacity and potential space for colocation purposes.

This article focuses on the latter idea of capacity by comparing the floor space of each data centre’s buildings to get a scale of the actual facilities themselves rather than their technical capacities.

UK

Using this metric, the UK’s capital, London, is the largest data centre market in Europe. In other words it has collectively more data centre floor space than any other European city or single location. This statistic, however, reflects the high number of individual facilities that are to be found within the confines of the M25 and not necessarily the size of any individual building. The legacy of early data centre adoption has left London with an advanced data centre ecosystem despite the costs of real estate in the area. This cost though has prohibited the growth of the largest facilities.

Consequently the UK’s largest individual facility can actually be found nearly 150 miles away in South Wales, in Newport. Not only is it the UK’s largest but also the largest in Europe with 750,000 square feet of floor space. The scale of the centre means that it consumes 90 MVA of electricity and therefore incorporates its own electrical substation which has the incredible capacity to power a city of 400,000 inhabitants. It is also notable for its advanced security measures including exSAS guards, 3-skin walls, perimeter fences and biometric identification. The centre offers enterprise customers of varying sizes the ability to rent isolated suites, units and/or colocation space to fulfil their hosting requirements from business hosting to managed hosting resellers for example. The first tenants of the data centre were BT and Logica.

Knowing How a Data Centre Works

A data centre is an important and integral part of any company’s computing system. It is the building, facility, or physical place where all the computers keys components are stored. The size and components of a data center depend on many factors including the size and needs of the business. Important components found in almost any center include the computer’s mainframe, air conditioning to cool the computer system, backup power supplies, and security applications. The mainframe that is in this center might include customer’s accounts and information regarding their activities with the business. The importance of a secure and efficient center for a computing system can’t be stressed enough. Without the basics of the computing system properly maintained, how can a business run the right way?

The main function of a data centre is to protect and maintain the company’s information. Without this, a company risks others gaining access to their data. In this day and age, not having enough security is like throwing caution to the wind. Who knows what damage could be done if someone gains access to the company’s most important and valuable information? This is why the security measures implemented should be state-of-the-art and of the latest technology.

The data centre of a computing system in a business is responsible for the running and maintaining of the business software applications that operate a company. It is crucial this is done in a routine and efficient way. Not only could the applications be corrupted but the data stored in the center could be lost. Much work is put into making sure this does not happen. The vital need for centers to operate correctly is underscored by the hours and money put into their upkeep. The expense to run them is not as great as the expense incurred when they fail to do their job.

Knowing how a data centre works and runs is vital to a company’s profits and future. Running an efficient and economical center can only add to a company’s value and reduce expenses. Keeping the hardware and applications secure and up-to-date also ensures the company’s security and efficiency. Applications such as file servers, databases, and application servers are in a centralized location which makes it easier to work with and maintain them. Implementing these applications on a regular basis keeps them working. Without the centers for the computing systems, all the hardware and storage components would be scattered in different areas allowing inefficiency and security risks.

The Data Centre Arms Race

This trilogy of articles looks at the development of bigger and better data centres across the world. It considers what is driving this construction boom, some of the challenges it faces and examples of how it is being implemented.

For a number of years the buzz word in the IT industry has been “cloud”. The word represents a shift in way all of us access and carry out our computing needs with an increased reliance on the internet. The term has even crossed into mainstream parlance thanks to services such as Apple’s iCloud.

The idea behind cloud computing is that users can access computing resources, such as applications or storage space, on remote computers, via the internet rather than on local individual machines. The advantages are plentiful as consumers can access just the services they need as and when they need them (akin to traditional utilities) and from a multitude of devices and locations.

Many of us use explicitly labelled cloud services but the majority of those used, particularly in the private market, don’t necessarily prompt the same recognition. For example, the massively popular social media tools, Twitter and Facebook, allow us to share communications and media by storing it on remote servers where it can be accessed by anyone with whom we wish to share it via the internet, i.e., through the cloud.

In a sense, cloud computing is a natural evolution of the concept of the world wide web, which was intended to provide a network of shared documents, however with the wide availability of higher bandwidth internet connections and the adoption of Web 2.0, including the idea of user generated content, the old simple documents have evolved into complex web based applications and rich media.

The flexibility, scalability and cost effectiveness of cloud computing offers considerable benefits for both private and enterprise consumers compared to ‘traditional’ one-off installations on individual devices and therefore adoption rates continue to rise. The concepts can appear fairly ephemeral to the consumer, as they access all of their computing resource via the internet but, ultimately, all of that digital information does need to be stored somewhere. As the services get more and more popular, so social network providers, cloud storage providers, cloud application providers and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) providers need to find more and more physical capacity and recent years have therefore seen what has been described by some as a data centre arms race to build more and bigger data centre facilities.

The struggle therefore for data centre providers is to build bigger, to reach the capacity they need, but at the same time, minimise the power that they consume and the impact that they have on the surrounding environment. Power consumption is measured by a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) score which indicates the energy consumed by supporting infrastructure (mainly heat management) versus that required to power the core servers. The industry benchmark is a PUE score of 2.0 which represents one unit of power consumed on infrastructure for every one on servers, whilst the ultimate efficiency would be a PUE of 1. Not only does a more efficient facility prove greener and more sustainable but, for the provider, it minimises cost and increases the scope for raising capacity. Consequently data centre constructors are increasingly looking to new and innovative ways to bring this score below 2 and as close to 1 as possible.

The Data Centre Arms Race

The final part of this trilogy looking into the growth of data centre facilities around the world focuses on the existing power house of data centre construction, North America, in particular the US, and the emerging contenders within Asia.

US

There are currently thought to be five centres that are as large or larger than that in Newport, Wales and four of them are to be found in the US. The smallest of these is the NAP of the Americas data centre, located within the urban sprawl of Miami in Florida. Matching the Newport facility for floor space at 750,000 square feet, it is not only a key installation for both the US military and global DNS infrastructure, but is a vital hub for IT Operations in the south east of the US and Latin America beyond.

The next up the chain is the home of Twitter’s servers amongst others – the QTS Metro Data Centre in Atlanta Georgia – with a square footage of 990,000. The building which originated as a Sears distribution centre and, like many of the other contenders, was repurposed into a data centre, now houses its own substation to support its vast power consumption.

The single largest data centre building in the world is the Lakeside Technology Center. The only centre over one million square feet at 1.1m, it can be found in another re-purposed ex-Sears building, this time in Chicago (a city also home to Microsoft’s largest facility at 700k sq.ft). The size of this facility can be illustrated by the fact that, within the Chicago area, the it consumes more power than any other facility excluding the city’s airport, being fed with 100MW of energy. This consumption is tempered however by the innovative use of a shared 8.5million gallon reservoir of chilled brine. In common with most of those reported here the facility is multi-tenant, offering colocation and business hosting to an array of clients. It is housed within a building, complete with gothic architecture, that Sears once used for its printing presses.

Although not a single building the US’s largest data centre complex can be found in Las Vegas, Nevada with the expansion of the SuperNap 7 facility. The project currently has over 2m square feet of floor space and continues to grow. In total, this behemoth requires an energy capacity of a whopping 500 MVA.

Asia

If you were to believe the headline figures, Hebei Province in China is home to a data centre which would blow all of the world’s other largest facilities out of the water. The centre being built as a cloud computing city by American IT firm IBM in conjunction with Chinese company Range, claims to have a gigantic 6.2 million square feet of floor space; nearly six times the Lakeside facility in the US. However, in actuality a large proportion of this space will be used for other purposes, such as office space, and the true footage of the data centre itself is considered to be in the region of 300,000 to 650,000.

Instead the largest data centre on the continent is considered to be the Tulip Data City facility in Bangalore, India with a floor space of around 900,000 square feet. In common with the Hebei Province centre above it has been built with IBM and also offers 80,000 of office space for customers. Although, due to its scale, it consumers 40 MVA of electricity, it can still classify itself as being a green facility as, at 1.9 PUE, it sneaks under the industry standard of 2.0 PUE.

As mentioned previously the challenge facing the data centre industry is to build big and to build green. Cloud computing and other new technologies are creating the demand for extra data centre capacity but this capacity can only be achieved in a sustainable and cost effective manner by finding smarter ways to manage the environments, primarily the temperatures, in which servers run to reduce their vast power consumption. However, with innovation such as the use of hot and cold aisles, thermal energy stores and the use of environmental resources, including external air and water, companies are opening up the possibilities for larger scale green data centre development.