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6 Interesting Facts about Data Centers

Mar 19th, 2015

Unless you need to use one for your own server, the chances are good that you’ve never given a thought to data centers. Truthfully however, if you’ve ever sent an email or gone online, you’ve used a data center, even if you didn’t know it. Data centers are large groups of computer servers that are used by organizations and businesses for the purpose of processing or distributing large amounts of data, or for remote storage. In addition to their practical purposes, data centers can be fascinating, as shown by the following six interesting facts about them.

1.) There are approximately 3 million data centers in the United States alone.
It’s easy to think of data centers as remote buildings somewhere far away from people, or anything really. If this was the case there would only be hundreds, maybe even a few thousand, data centers. In reality, there are approximately 3 million data centers in the United States – that’s 1 for every 100 people – and they’re just about everywhere.

2.) The energy use consumed by data centers is exponential.
With all those servers, wires, coolers, and other equipment, it’s easy to see that the amount of energy used by one data center alone would be significant. In 2013, those 3 million data centers in the U.S. used approximately 100 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which was 2 per cent of all electricity use within the country.

3.) Every kilowatt saved in a data center can potentially save 2 kilowatts in powering the same data center.
While data centers do consume a huge amount of power, there are also many ways these centers can save energy. Data center owners and operators know this so they employ many energy-saving practices including hot and cold aisle isolation, managing airflow, and raising the temperature within the recommended range.

4.) On a larger scale, data centers can improve overall energy efficiency
Imagine how much power you can save in your own home just by turning lights off, using energy-efficient appliances, and running your air conditioning and furnace as little as possible. When data centers employ energy-efficient practices, those energy savings are present on a much larger scale. If all data centers in the United States could cut their energy use by 20 per cent, the country could save more than 20 billion kilowatts within the next 5 years. That’s about $2 billion saved.

5.) About 10 per cent of the United States’ federal government’s electricity comes from data centers.
This one really speaks for itself. It’s a statistic that comes from the Department of Energy and it shows just how reliant everyone is on data centers; and once again, how much energy they use.

6.) Data centers upgrade their IT equipment every 3 to 5 years.
The equipment in a data center is everything, especially all that IT equipment that includes servers and other hardware. It has to be the most up-to-date because the clients of the data center are relying on optimum performance from it literally every second of every day. Data center owners and operators have to make sure that their equipment is the best so they can provide their clients with the best. Upgrading IT equipment this often also means that the new equipment will be more energy-efficient than the older equipment it’s replacing.

Data centers are everywhere and while you’re likely already using one (even if you don’t know it) you might have to store your own data there one day soon. When you do, you’ll likely find that they’re not only more common than you think, but also much more interesting.