Data Centers and the Cloud

For most people, the cloud is where all of their favorite songs, pictures and videos live happily, waiting for their owners to summon them at the touch of a screen or the click of a mouse. But, those aren’t the only forms of data living in the cloud. Software, documents, spreadsheets, websites and books… You name it – you can find all types of data in the cloud. But where is this “cloud?”

In the same way our emails don’t live on the hard drive of the devices we read them on, files on cloud storage platforms exist separately from the devices you access them with. So, where do they live? They need to live somewhere, don’t they?

They sure do! Cloud storage platforms are usually found on shared server farms or dedicated servers in data centers.

What is a data center?

A data center is a type of facility that houses a company’s IT equipment (like shared server farms, dedicated servers and firewalls), data and enterprise applications off-premises.
Data centers are critical for the daily operations of many companies who choose to store their important hardware outside of their individual offices and, as you’d hope, data centers take the security of this responsibility very seriously.

Heavy security and physical space keep their client’s equipment deeply defended in the center of their ultra-secure buildings. These centers have multiple layers of external and internal checkpoints and barriers preventing unverified persons from accessing hardware or data. The first time we entered our data center, we felt like we were being screened by the FBI – it was a very thorough process, to say the least.

What’s the purpose of a data center for cloud hosting?

Although it may seem like physical security is the main function of a data center for cloud hosting servers, that isn’t the case. They also protect the cloud from “the unknown” (like unsteady environmental conditions, accidents and natural disasters) and conduct risk management.

  • 1. Protection from environmental conditions: Changing environmental conditions, like an unregulated temperature, can be detrimental to hardware – if a system overheats, it’ll malfunction or become severely damaged by cooking themselves out of operation. Data centers keep their environments cool and consistent. Depending on the design of the facility, air conditioning vents blast air from below the hardware while hot air is sucked out of the room through vents in the ceiling, thereby keeping the room an ideal temperature for the systems. 
  • 2. Protection from natural disasters: Large generators and back-up batteries are also placed throughout the building to ensure that if there was to be a super-tornado or a spilled cup of coffee and power was lost, things will remain cool and ventilated until the situation can be controlled and restored. In addition to these backups at our data centers in the US and Canada, we also maintain backup servers: this allows for full redundancy so if one kicks off, the other will start working immediately.
  • 3. Data risk management: A key factor in data risk management is Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM). DCIM helps analyze data center metrics and environmental conditions. Although human inspection is still largely relied upon, DCIM optimization handles everything from disc capacity utilization to airflow and climate controls. In certain facilities, there are also “nests” above data hubs where a surveillance team monitors incoming environmental storms so they can make sure the center is prepared in case a power outage is imminent.

Are data centers common for hosting?

Yes, data centers are incredibly popular in the managed application hosting world. More likely than not, large chunks of your data – from pictures to accounting files – is (or has been) safely kept in a secure data center. So, whether you’re deciding where to house your company’s sensitive data or uploading a batch of cat pictures to social media, understand that you’re probably sending your information out to one of these data centers.

At Summit Hosting, we keep all of our hardware, including dedicated servers and firewalls, within secure data centers in the US and Canada. Why? Because it allows you to safely access your hosted Sage and QuickBooks data from wherever, whenever and not have to worry about the security of keeping your hardware on-premises. If you’re interested in learning more about cloud hosting and to see if Sage or QuickBooks hosting is right for your business, give our team a call: 888-244-6559.