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Essential Components of a Multi-tenant Colocation Data Center

Published on 09 June 15
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“There are several essential components that make up a data center. Each of these components play a critical role to ensure uptime for a customerâs data infrastructure. Multi-tenant colocation data centers are similar to single-tenant colocation data centers but differ in that multi-tenant facilities canât build to suit, it has to be built to accommodate a broad range of customer requirements.”
Power Infrastructure

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Power is the most critical component of a data center facility. Without power the data infrastructure would cease to operate. Power infrastructure typically comes from one or more sub-stations, unless you produce much of your own power on site. The electricity is eventually stepped down to 110 or 220 Volts on two separate legs of power and scrubbed by converting it to DC and then back to AC again to remove brownouts (unintended drops in voltage).
Typically a colocation customer will ask for both an A and B leg of power in their cabinets so that they can get power from either leg should something critical happen to one of the legs of power in the data center infrastructure or on the hardware itself (like a power supply failure).

Less common is the option to have straight power from the commercial power grid although some data center providers offer it. The downside to just going off the commercial power grid is that you are then subject to the outages that can occur. But for archival data infrastructure it may be okay to have that downtime because the cost savings are so significant and the tolerance for downtime is high.
Networking Infrastructure

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After power infrastructure, networking infrastructure is the next most important component of a data center facility. Each multi-tenant data center will have several network carriers on-net providing connectivity to and from that facility. Customers in the facility can negotiate with those providers for bandwidth capacity, and then the data center support staff will run a cross connect from the customer cabinet to the network carrier hardware to make that physical connection between customer and network carrier.

In addition to having network providerâs on-net in their facility, some data center providers will offer a blended bandwidth solution which is a mix of several network carriers on-net, providing the fastest path between those carriers for the customerâs data to travel.

Data center providers with multiple facilities will have a backbone network that you can use that will give you a direct connection between two or more of their facilities. This is advantageous because you can place primary and secondary infrastructure in separate facilities and have a low latency failover time, critical for minimizing data loss during the switch over.
Cooling Infrastructure

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With all of the power infrastructure, networking infrastructure and customerâs data infrastructure there is a lot of heat given off. Megawatts of power are sent to the data center floor and all of this power is eventually converted to heat. This heat builds up fast and needs to be moved away from the infrastructure so that it can operate at optimal temperature. While most hardware and infrastructure have fans to move the air through the equipment, the data center is responsible for ensuring that there is always conditioned air.

Conditioned air means that itâs not only cooled to the ideal temperature for hardware, but that it has the proper amount of humidity and has been filtered to remove dust and other particles.

The ASHRAE window is the humidity and temperature guidance for data centers to maintain. Some data centers are able to stay within the ASHRAE window with an open loop free air cooling system where air is simply filtered and brought in from the outside without any cooling. There are about 12 metro areas in the US where the wet bulb temperatures make this is possible.

Security & Compliance
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Protecting customer data from outside intrusion is critical for a data center facility. Compliance with controls and proper handling of customer data satisfies PCI, HIPAA and SSAE 16 requirements that are audited annually.

Physical access to the data center and customer infrastructure is handled through several layers and security factors. These include man traps, biometric badge access doors, checking government issued ID and verifying an approval list given by the customer for those seeking access to that customers cabinet.

Related are the VESDA very early smoke detection apparatus and fire suppression systems which ensure that the facility is protected against the threat of fire.

Custom security measures that can be applied to a customerâs cage, suite or cabinet include: cameras, lasers and movement sensors, cage wall above the hardware and below the floor, custom sealed cabinet and more.

Customer Service & Support Staff
Essential to having a well built data center facility and infrastructure are the individuals that maintain and operate the facility and respond to customer support requests. Often data centers will provide several sessions of remote-hands to assist a customer so that they donât have to come all the way in to reboot a server or flip a switch or rack and stack hardware. Mostly though, support staff are responding to tickets and running cable from the meet-me-room to the customers cabinet or cage location.

While not all tenants of a multi-tenant colocation data center require the same level of redundancy, service and deliverability, small customers with simple archival data will enjoy the benefits of the level of service the data centers maintain to meet the requirements of the large, sophisticated or unique customers.
This blog is listed under Data Centre Management and Data & Information Management Community

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