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History of Data Centers

Shania     8 September 2023     Cloud Infrastructure / Colocation     0 Comments

What is a data center? 

A data center is a facility that stores computer machines and their hardware equipment. This place is where organizations keep their IT operations and store all their websites, applications, and data. Components of data center include: 

  • Servers 
  • Networking Equipment
  • Storage Systems 
  • Power Infrastructure 
  • Cooling Systems 
  • Security Systems 
  • Environmental Monitoring  
  • Cabling Infrastructure 

What are the data center tiers? 

Data center tiers are a system used to categorize different types of data center infrastructure. They are divided into 4 tiers according to their reliability. Choosing the appropriate data center tier depends on an organization's IT requirements, budget, and tolerance for downtime. 

Tier 1 Data Centers

A tier 1 data center is usually used by smaller businesses, or organizations that don’t rely too much on technology. It offers basic services and has the simplest infrastructure, with non-redundant capacity components. Moreover, tier 1 data centers only have a single path for power and cooling and offer an uptime of 99.67%. This means that the potential downtime each year is around 28.8 hours. This tier of data center also needs to be shut down completely during maintenance.  

Tier 2 Data Centers

Tier 2 data center is a bit more reliable than tier 1. It also has a single path for power and cooling and needs the system to shut down when there is maintenance to the power path and other infrastructure. However, tier 2 centers come with redundant capacity components. This helps lower the chance of the data center operations not working if a component fails. They also offer an uptime of 99.74%, which means their potential downtime is around 22 hours each year. This makes tier 2 data center a good fit for small businesses who need more reliability than tier 1. 

Tier 3 Data Centers

Tier 3 data centers are a big step up in reliability. They have extra systems that can keep things running even when they do maintenance. Tier 3 centers are available about 99.982% of the time, which means they might not work for about 1.6 hours each year. They're great for businesses that need things to keep going without big disruptions. 

Tier 3 data centers have multiple paths for power and cooling, with backup redundancies and outage protection. They also can go through maintenance without disturbing their operations, making them a more reliable option compared to tier 1 and tier 2. The uptime they offer is 99.98%, which means their potential downtime per year is around 1.6 hours. 

Tier 4 Data Centers

Tier 4 data centers are the best solution for large corporations that have a high traffic and need their technology to run smoothly at all times. This is because tier 4 centers have redundancy for every component, ensuring that they can work at all times. They have many extra systems and different paths for power, cooling, and connecting to networks. Tier 4 data centers have an uptime of 99.99%, which means their potential downtime is 26.3 minutes per year. They are also designed to be able to maintain their operations even in the event of downtime. 

Why are data centers important? 

Companies use data centers because managing all their computing equipment, which can be in different branches, on their own can be challenging. Thanks to these facilities, companies can bring all their equipment to a centralized location and manage it conveniently. This is because data center facilities are designed to provide a safe environment to keep all the computers running smoothly. Moreover, data centers also need to comply with several regulations to make sure that their data is securely stored. Simply put, a data center is like the main control center for a company's digital activities. Companies also have the option of having an on-premises data center or using a third-party data center. You can learn more about the benefits of using a data center here

History of Data Centers 

The Early Days (1940s) 

The world's first data center was built in the 1940s at the University of Pennsylvania. It was to house the first computer ever created, which was the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC). The one who built this was the US Army for military purposes at that time. 

These early computers were very complex to operate, and data centers were also just very simple facilities to house these computers. Most of the centers at that time also had no windows and only one secure door.  

Development of Personal Computers (1960s-1980s) 

During the 1960s-1970s, companies like IBM and Intel began to develop advanced, yet easy-to-use computers for everyone. Because of these innovations, more users deploy computers in the 1980s.  

As the number of computer users began to grow, organizations started to realize that they need to have a facility where they can put all their company servers there in order to manage them easier. These needs made data centers a popular solution for lots of companies. 

Data Center and Internet Boom (1990s) 

In the 1990s, the internet became a thing and wireless internet technologies were also introduced. Personal Computers have also become famous among people. In this period of time, companies also started to rely on the Internet for their business processes. This eventually caused the demand for data centers to increase even more. 

IT Trends and Outsourcing (2000s) 

There was an increase in spending on IT in the 2000s as more people began using PCs and the internet. However, the financial crisis in 2008 caused companies to look for ways for cost-cutting measures. This is when ‘outsourcing’ started to become famous, as it is cheaper than trying to handle everything on their own. Many companies started to work together with third-party vendors (or other companies) to handle some of their business processes. This includes handling their data centers, as it helps them to focus on their business, and the experts can take care of their computing equipment. 

Scalability Focus (2010s) 

On the 2010s, more companies rely on the internet and technology for their business processes. E-commerce and online transactions have also grown at this period of time. Due to these increased workloads, companies realized the need for data centers that can keep up with the growing amount of work without slowing down, or in other words, a scalable data center. 

However, environmental concerns regarding these data centers are also starting to rise. A report published by Greenpeace in 2012 highlighted how these data centers are consuming lots of energy to operate. 

Era of Efficiency (2020s) 

These days, people are continuing to improve the quality of data centers. Data center providers are implementing ways to make their data centers sustainable and environmentally friendly. This is done by using more renewable energy sources (like solar energy or wind energy) as it can reduce the carbon footprint of data centers.  

Moreover, data center providers also have started to virtualize data centers. This is done to create a more scalable, secure, and reliable data center for companies. Virtualization reduces he number of servers needed, which eventually reduces energy consumption and resource usage. Virtualized data centers also allow the automation of backup processes for a company's virtual resources. This helps companies minimize downtime and ensures business continuity. 

Future Trends and Conclusion 

We can expect that data centers will become even more advanced in the future. As more companies digitalize their business processes, data centers will continue to play an important role in helping lots of companies to run their business efficiently and smoothly.  

Data centers started simply as rooms that are filled with lots of computers, and now they have grown to become a facility that makes digital business processes possible, with more and more companies depending on them. We can also expect them to continue growing more in the future. 

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