A large number of questions arise around the extensive topic of "data centers".
We have put together the most important and interesting questions and answer them here in our FAQs.

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.

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.

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.

An exact number of data centers in Europe is very difficult to determine. As this is a fast growing industry and many companies operate in this region, the number can only be estimated. According to an assumption by DataCenter Map, there were more than 6,000 data centers in Europe in 2020 - and the number is rising. However, there is no official and current source for an exact number. Incidentally, 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 more than eleven soccer fields. According to the Bitkom industry association, there are currently more than 3,000 data centers in Germany with more than 40 kW IT connected load. In addition, there are more than 50,000 smaller IT installations and data centers in Germany.

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.

Companies, municipalities, authorities, institutions and private individuals use direct and indirect services from data centers every day. To put it simply, data is stored and calculated in such systems. So, a data center is a place where large amounts of computing and networking hardware and software operate to store, process and manage data and provide applications to users. Businesses 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 run data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. They are also essential for cloud computing, as cloud providers deliver their services from data centers around the world.

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.

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.

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.