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Data Centers 101: all the terms you need to know

Enovum Data Centers

The traditional data centre is undergoing a revolution: cloud infrastructures, colocation services, hosted servers, virtualized servers and energy saving technologies are bringing new challenges for businesses.

What is a data centre?

A data centre is the building or portion of a building whose primary purpose is to house a computer room and its support areas. The data centre also hosts the technological infrastructures that power the servers. It includes telecommunications and storage systems, redundant power sources, redundant connectivity, environmental controls (cooling and fire suppression) and physical and virtual security.

Today, “the data centre industry is a highly technical, highly practical, niche-based industry requiring costly investments across all verticals – including training, designing, building and maintenance”, according to Badrudeen A. Ayomaya, in his book “Data Centre for Beginners: a Beginners Guide Towards Understanding Data Centre Design”.

Bigger, better, faster

Data centres are being built at a very fast pace, globally, and there is no sign of an impending slowdown. Data centre mergers and acquisitions totaled almost 35 billion US dollars worldwide in 2020, more than five times the volume of deals in 2019, according to a Financial Times article.

Lock-down workers have turned to teleconferencing and streaming services, technologies that usually require colocation services. Data centres are therefore getting bigger, and their energy consumption is growing accordingly.

The data centre lexical

  • Cooling: crucial for a data centre, without cooling, temperatures in a data centre can increase exponentially in a matter of minutes.
  • Colocation: a colocation centre (also spelled co-location, or colo) is a type of data centre where equipment, space, and bandwidth are available for rental to retail customers. Colocation facilities provide space, power, cooling, and physical security for the server, storage, and networking equipment of other firms. They also connect them to a variety of telecommunications and network service providers.
  • Retail customer: a customer that requires between 1 and 10 cabinets or less than 60 kW of committed power.
  • Wholesale customer: customer with a requirement greater than 60 kW.
  • High density: a cabinet with more than 10 kW of power. These can reach 30 kW. Higher density cabinets have specific cooling requirements.
  • Connectivity room (meet-me room): a secure central space in a data centre where all telecommunications operators converge. A large number of telecom operators add significant value to a data centre.
  • Managed Service Provider (IT): a company that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems.
  • Public cloud: data is not hosted on dedicated machines, but on shared machines. In other words, part of the equipment is rented by the customer.
  • Private cloud: a server dedicated to the needs of a single client.
  • Colocation space: a company places its own server in a data centre.
  • Dedicated hosting: a single server completely dedicated to a single client.

About us: Enovum Data Centres builds and manages mission-critical digital infrastructure, powered by renewable hydroelectricity, in its Montreal flagship facility. From single cabinets to hyperscalers, Enovum is vertically integrated to deliver speed, connectivity options and quality with a robust infrastructure. Enovum is transparent: we provide live monitoring of your environment within your space. Enovum has access to all major carriers locally with multiple redundant dark fibre paths and a 100% carrier-neutral location.

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