A variety of questions arise around the extensive topic of “data centers” or “DCs”.
We have put together the most important and interesting questions and answer them here in our FAQs.

What Exactly is a Data Center?

A data center (DC) is a purpose-built building or room used to house and operate a large amount of computing and networking equipment. The main task of a data center is to store, process and distribute data and applications. This requires a secure physical environment, a constant supply of power and cooling, an efficient network infrastructure and effective management of the hardware and software components. Data centers are often operated by large corporations, government agencies, or hosting service providers to host and manage their databases, websites, and cloud-based applications. Data centers are the basic prerequisites for digitization and thus have a significant impact on economic development. In this country, the English term “data center” or “datacenter” is very often used to designate data centers.

What Types of Data Centers are There?

There are different types of data centers that can be specialized depending on the need and intended use. Some of the common types are:

  • Enterprise or corporate data centers: These data centers are operated by companies and serve to support the internal IT infrastructure.
  • Colocation data centers: These are data centers operated by third parties that offer server room rental services. Companies can house their own servers or hardware in these data centers and share the infrastructure with other customers.
  • Cloud data centers: These data centers are operated by providers such as Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, Oracle Cloud and Microsoft Azure and offer cloud-based services such as storage space, infrastructure or platforms for companies.
  • Hyperscale data centers: These data centers are usually very large in scale and are suitable for large companies that need to process enormous amounts of data.
  • Edge data centers: These are smaller, decentralized data centers that are close to end users and are often used for things like the Internet of Things (IoT) or smart cities.

What are Climate-Neutral Data Centers?

A carbon neutral data center is a data center that tries to minimize its CO₂ emissions and offset the remaining part through appropriate measures to ultimately achieve net zero emissions. This is achieved in a variety of ways, such as using renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro or wind power, using efficient cooling and energy saving measures such as Blue DC, and supporting projects to reduce CO₂ emissions. In addition, the resulting waste heat is fed into a heating network and thus made usable. A climate-neutral data center is therefore an important contribution to combating climate change and improving sustainability.

Server Room or Data Center – What’s the Difference?

A server room is a physical room in a building that houses servers and other IT infrastructure components such as switches, routers, and firewalls. The server room serves to provide a controlled and secure environment for the IT infrastructure. This server room is usually just a single room in a company, office or school.

In contrast, a data center is a much larger and more comprehensive facility than a single server room. A data center often consists of several server rooms and offers a comprehensive range of IT services. Data centers can house hundreds or even thousands of servers and offer additional services such as cloud hosting, storage or data backup.

Where is the Largest Data Center in the World Located?

The largest data center in the world is located in Langfang in the Chinese province of Hebei. It is operated by the company Range International Information Group. It stands on an area of over 585,000 square meters. The largest data center in Germany is Frankfurt 1. It is 60,000 square meters. In total, there are more than five million data centers in an area of more than 26 square kilometers all over the world. That corresponds to almost 6,000 football pitches.

How Many Data Centers are There in Europe?

An exact number of data centers in Europe is very difficult to determine. Since this is a rapidly growing industry and many companies operate in this region, the number can only be estimated. According to DataCenter Map, there were more than 6,000 data centers in Europe in 2020 - and the trend is rising. However, there is no official and current source for an exact number. By the way, the largest data center in Europe is in Covilhã, Portugal. The data center has an area of around 75,500 square meters. That corresponds to over eleven football fields. According to the industry association Bitkom, there are currently more than 3,000 data centers in Germany with more than 40 kW IT connection power. There are also more than 50,000 smaller IT installations and data centers in this country.

Who Needs a Data Center?

Companies, municipalities, authorities, institutions and private individuals use direct and indirect services from data centers every day. In simple terms, such systems store and calculate data. So, a data center is a place where large amounts of computer and network hardware and software are operated to store, process and manage data and provide applications to users. Companies and organizations also use data centers to maintain their services and operations by hosting databases, applications, email and other communication services. However, data centers can also be used to conduct data analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning. They are also essential for cloud computing, as cloud providers deliver their services from data centers worldwide.

What Mistakes can be Made When Operating a Data Center?

In order to rule out errors in the operation of a data center right from the start, the following points should be carefully observed:

  1. Power outages: A power outage can lead to an outage of the entire data center. It is important to have redundancy in the power supply to avoid failures.
  2. Overheating: Overheating can damage hardware components, leading to data center failure. Effective cooling of the server rooms is therefore essential.
  3. Network issues: Network disruptions can lead to outages of applications or services running on the servers in the data center. Careful monitoring of the network is therefore important.
  4. Vulnerabilities: Security gaps can lead to data loss or even data theft. It is extremely important to ensure that the entire data center is well protected against cyber attacks.
  5. Hardware error: Hardware failures such as defective hard drives, memory, etc. can lead to downtime. It is important to have comprehensive monitoring of all servers and components to detect errors early and fix them.

To ensure a reliable and effective data center operating environment, you must focus on thorough planning, regular maintenance, monitoring, and taking action in the event of problems.

What is Meant by “Green IT” in the Context of Data Centers?

“Green IT” Green IT refers to efforts to minimize the environmental impact of IT operations, particularly data centers. This can be achieved by using energy-efficient hardware, using renewable energy sources, optimizing cooling systems and reducing overall energy consumption. The aim is to improve the CO2 balance and promote sustainable operations.

How Important is the Choice of Location for a Data Center?

Location selection is very important for several reasons, including the availability and cost of electricity, proximity to major internet hubs for low latency, the risk of natural disasters, and climatic conditions that can affect cooling costs. A well-chosen location can significantly reduce operating costs and increase overall efficiency.

What Security Measures are Essential for Data Centers?

Essential security measures include physical security measures such as access control systems, surveillance cameras and security guards. Network-based security solutions such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and regular security audits are also important. Data protection compliance and redundancy in power and data connections are also crucial.

Why is Redundancy Important in Data Centers?

Redundancy is crucial to ensure service availability and reliability - even in the event of hardware failures, power outages or network problems. Multiple power supply paths, cooling systems and network connections ensure continuous operation and minimize downtime.

How Does Cooling Impact Data Center Operations?

Cooling is a key factor in energy efficiency and hardware lifespan. Effective cooling systems prevent overheating and ensure optimal performance of IT devices. Innovative cooling technologies, such as free cooling and liquid cooling, can significantly reduce cooling costs.

Which Trends Influence the Development and Operation of Data Centers?

Current trends include the use of renewable energy, the move towards edge computing to bring data processing closer to the end user, increasing automation in data center operations and the use of artificial intelligence to optimize operational processes, as well as increased attention to Sustainability and energy efficiency.

What do I Have to Consider When Planning a Data Center?

Careful planning is critical to the successful operation of a data center. For example, these aspects should be considered:

  1. Location: The location of the data center is important. It should be in a safe, non-seismic zone that is also easily accessible for IT staff and maintenance personnel. In addition, the local energy mix and its CO₂ emissions as well as the possible connection to local and district heating networks must be taken into account.
  2. Air conditioning: Since IT components can only be operated efficiently within a certain temperature range, the room climate should be continuously monitored and controlled. The data center needs a sophisticated cooling system to ensure constant temperature and humidity, as well as to set up power storage and redundancy.
  3. Power supply: A data center requires an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and backup generators. A power failure could quickly lead to data loss and IT complications.
  4. Security: A data center must be protected against vandalism, theft or other threats through physical barriers and access systems. Access to critical areas such as the generator room, cooling system controls, etc. should be restricted to the necessary minimum.
  5. Network: A data center requires a fast and secure network architecture that is optimized for all systems that need to be connected in the data center.
  6. Monitoring: Through the use of sensors and camera surveillance systems, the data center can be monitored and secured around the clock.
  7. Maintenance and repair: The data center must be checked regularly for functionality and updates in order to avoid failures and data loss.

These are just a few important aspects that should be considered when planning a data center.

How is Energy Efficiency Measured in Data Centers?

Energy efficiency in data centers is often measured by the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) value. The PUE value is the ratio of the total energy consumed in the data center to the energy consumed by the IT devices. An ideal PUE value is close to 1.0, meaning almost no energy is spent on cooling or other non-IT-related functions.

How can the Scalability of Data Centers be Ensured?

Scalability can be ensured through modular design and the use of standardized components. This allows capacities to be flexibly added or reduced as required. Planning should also take future technologies and possible expansions of the physical location into account.

How is Data Security Guaranteed in Data Centers?

Data security is achieved through a combination of physical and digital measures, including strict access controls, encryption, regular security audits, compliance with international security standards and the implementation of security policies and procedures to prevent data leaks and cyberattacks.

Why Does a Data Center Need to be Cooled?

In order for servers and storage systems in a data center to work smoothly around the clock, they must be constantly cooled. The higher the temperature of electronic components, the greater the risk that they can fail. In addition, higher temperatures lead to excessive energy consumption, which causes high costs and is also harmful to the environment.

However, storage, servers and network components in a data center require electricity. They convert this into heat. Well-thought-out and sustainable air conditioning ensures that this heat is dissipated and the data center is operated in the right temperature range for the sensitive equipment. This is especially true in times when energy prices are rising sharply and the 1.5 °C target must be achieved. The issue of security should not be lost sight of. The redundancy of the systems is a must. If the cooling system fails, this can very quickly lead to a total blackout.

Thanks to modern technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Data Center Management (DCM), it is possible to plan cooling systems in a network and monitor and control them from anywhere in the world. So the future of data center cooling is smart, sustainable and secure.

Why Should a Data Center be Certified?

In order to ensure long-term sustainable and economical operation, regular documentation and inspections of the system help. The certification of data centers is therefore also an essential factor in ensuring sustainability, security and resilience. Due to the rapid development of digitalization, the data center infrastructure quickly reaches its limits. Nevertheless, the increased demand in a digital world must be met. Because data centers are essential for many areas. They are the basis for emergency admission, operation planning or medication distribution in the hospital. Data centers are just as important for energy supply or municipal services. But modern production in the automotive industry as well as flight, traffic or traffic light control in large cities, for example, are not possible without data centers. And of course data centers are also indispensable for the private sector, such as in telecommunications. Due to today's networking, we are dependent on data centers in almost every area of life. Since the number of workloads installed in data centers has already increased fivefold since 2010, this increase is also expected in the future.

Certifications can be used to document how energy-efficient and climate-friendly data centers work. In doing so, further potential is exploited for operators with which they can also operate their system economically efficiently. There are a variety of different national and international certifications.

How is a Data Center Protected?

Security for and in a data center is based on different pillars. When it comes to network security, first and foremost, very good antivirus software and firewalls should be used to protect IT from intruders. Furthermore, intelligently arranged access systems should protect the entire system. Complete protection can be guaranteed in the form of three-tier security zones with door access systems, effective camera surveillance and biometric access controls. This also includes compliance with the new General Data Protection Regulation. This means data protection for this sensitive data is always guaranteed.