Elements of a Data Center

There are different components that interact in the highly critical operation of a Data Center.

Operating a mission-critical facility is very different from managing a commercial office building. For most Data Centers, failure is not an option. Some compare it to doing maintenance work on an airplane while it's flying. The potential impact on the availability of hosted systems can be so severe that every change and operation is carefully evaluated in terms of its effect.

Nowadays, companies are usually totally dependent on their Data Centers or the Data Center itself is their business. The pace of change within the Data Center is much greater than in most other types of facilities, and as the economy becomes more dependent on software, the design and complexity of operating a Data Center is much higher. Do you know what elements interact with each other to maintain the mission-critical availability of a Data Center? Let us tell you about it.


Basic elements of a Data Center

Information technology infrastructure: servers that process data and form private or hybrid Clouds. Storage equipment such as SAN (Storage Area Network) and NAS (Network Attached Storage), including systems with magnetic tapes that back up information. All this equipment is mounted on racks that maximize the use of space in the facilities. Racks are typically installed vertically and are raised a couple of meters, leaving enough room for cable, cooling, and airflow systems. They are normally mounted on false or raised floors, and all the communication cables run under them.

The design of the network and the Internet services are vital in a Data Center. There are kilometers of structured cabling of different categories and multiple communication layers such as switches, which act at layer 2 or layer 3 as the case may be; and routers make up the network architecture for internal communication and to manage ISPs (Internet Service Provider).

Network security: we refer to Firewall systems, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) that analyze and monitor network traffic in search of possible cyberattackers. Other related equipment includes Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS); these proactively deny network traffic if the packets represent a known security threat, based on a security profile.

For physical security, there are biometric access controls such as fingerprint recognition and facial recognition. There are also fire protection and liquid spill detection components.


Other elements

There are many other non-computer elements, such as electrical power and UPS's, since all the infrastructure–including servers and network devices–need it, so they depend on an internal power supply to provide the direct current (DC) required to run processors and devices.

These internal power supplies can only produce a certain amount of variation in supply voltage before equipment is susceptible to shut down or overload.

Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS:

  • They allow sensitive equipment to be protected from a current variation on the line.
  • They improve the quality of the electrical energy that reaches the loads.
  • They filter out the ups and downs in voltage.
  • They eliminate harmonics from the network in the case of alternating current.
  • During a blackout, thanks to their batteries, they can provide electrical power for a limited time to all the devices connected to it.

Power Distribution Units or PDUs: these units that exist in Data Centers are equipment that fulfills the function of providing effective energy to supply voltage levels, suitable for transmission and distribution of electrical energy throughout the facilities.

Depending on the tier of the Data Center, the design must have redundant elements such as alternate energy generators, based on gas or diesel, used as emergency generators. These supply electrical energy if there is an interruption in the commercial line. 

A Data Center also needs a design that incorporates cooling systems and air conditioning, in fact, heat removal is one of the most essential but least known tasks. As the servers and the infrastructure get smaller but use the same or even more electricity, more heat is generated. The cooling and heat dissipation system are used to collect and correctly distribute this unwanted thermal energy to the outside.

Now you know a little more about Data Centers and their energy needs. Remember that having a technology partner with the necessary experience and knowledge will help you achieve your business goals. Questions? Comments? We invite you to visit:


David Gentry, and Donovan, Patrick. Schneider (2017). 12 elementos esenciales en un centro de datos [12 essential elements in a data center]:, accessed August 2019.