A data center is a central location for storing and processing data. It may include anywhere from a few computers to several thousand. Most data centers contain servers, such as web, mail, and file servers. However, some are designed specifically for data storage and others for cluster computing.
Data centers may serve one or more of the following functions:
- Web hosting
- Mail hosting
- Cloud computing
- Data storage
- Data backup
- CDN edge caching
- Edge computing
- Bitcoin mining
A typical data center contains rows of rack-mounted computers, which are space-efficient and easy to access. They also include networking equipment, such as switches, routers, and Ethernet cables. Most have a high-speed Internet connection or connect directly to the Internet backbone.
The equipment each data center contains depends on its purpose. For example, a web hosting site may have thousands of web servers with various configurations. A data storage facility may include a large number of storage devices and only a few computers. An edge computing center requires machines with high-end processors but doesn't need a lot of storage.
Because computer technology is constantly evolving, data centers must be scalable, or easy to expand and upgrade over time. They must be built efficiently, with high-bandwidth connections, to avoid network bottlenecks. Finally, appropriate security measures, such as firewalls, must be implemented to prevent external attacks. Many data centers have sophisticated monitoring tools to catch bottlenecks and hacking attempts so network administrators can address them before problems occur.