The Anatomy Of A Data Center

12th July, 2019 by

While we would all agree we’d be hard pressed to go a day without the internet, we don’t put a whole lot of thought into where the data we consume originates. So where exactly does the information we see on our screen come from, and what else resides in the warehouses full of hardware known as data centers? Learn more here as we dive into the anatomy of a data center and how it safely stores your data. 

Data Warehouse

From the outside, data centers look much like any other warehouse. However, what is housed inside varies greatly. These highly standardized locations are custom designed to meet quality benchmarks in every area from temperature control to power usage. They are completely optimized for ultimate security, redundancy, sustainability, and hardware longevity. 

It’s important to note that data centers can vary almost as much as the environment in which they are located. Some are large, industrious facilities in the desert, while others are on the top floor of a skyscraper in a large city. However, they are similar in the services they offer, and how they are categorized according to excellence. 

Compliance & Availability

Data centers are ranked in a variety of ways, most of which concern security compliance, and they can house sensitive information if they meet certain safety standards. Compliances include HIPAA for medical records, PCI DSS for credit card and payment information, SOC for financial information, and many more. 

Data centers are also ranked according to performance and reliability and are categorized into what are called Tiers. There are four specific tiers according to uptime availability.   

Tier 1 = 99.671% Uptime

Tier 1 data centers are basic computer rooms that experience an annual downtime of around 28 hours, typically for the full shutdown required for maintenance.

Tier 2 = 99.741% Uptime

Tier 2 data centers have some redundancy in place, but only one power resource. Annual downtime is approximately 22 hours.

Tier 3 = 99.982% Uptime

Tier 3 data centers are mostly redundant to accommodate maintenance without outages and include N+1 redundancy and a prespecified amount of power. Annal downtime is less than two hours. Note that 100TB data centers meet Tier 3 requirements. 

Tier 4 = 99.995% Uptime

Tier 4 data centers are the top tier and meet the most stringent redundancy standards for critical data storage. Annual downtime is less than a half hour.


Data centers are equipped with the highest level of security to prevent data corruption. Security measures include biometric and key card scanning, 24-hour video surveillance, 24-hour on-premise guards, man trap access, and other security measures besides. 

Environmental Control

Hardware works best if temperatures are kept very cool and stable. Data centers employ large heating and cooling systems to be sure that the hardware is kept in optimal conditions for longevity and performance. Many do not automatically consider environmental factors when imagining data hosting, however, data center hardware components have price tags of $100,000 or more. It is in both customers’ and data centers’ best interest to promote temperature controlled conditions. 


Connectivity is the number one focus for any data center. Having locations close to internet exchanges as well as using only the best peering and transit partners makes all the difference when considering latency. For example, our clients choose 100TB for our lightning-fast performance and our ability to deliver data with the lowest latency possible. Learn more about our network, data center, security, and automation at