Data Centers: Metrics & Standards

Instructor: David Gloag
Capturing and processing information is extremely important these days. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the data center, some metrics, and why standards should be considered.

Keeping Track of Information

Information affects us in many significant ways. Weather information helps us decide what to wear for the day, business information directs our efforts which helps us earn a living, and payroll information ensures that besides us, all interested parties get their legislated share. As you have probably realized, the amount of information quickly adds up. So how do we stay on top of it? And if and when we do, how do we ensure it's handled in a logical and consistent fashion? One tool used by businesses and governments alike is the data center. And to keep track of it all, a set of metrics, and appropriate standards.

What Is a Data Center?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but a data center is simply a building. In particular, it is a building that encloses a significant amount of computer hardware. The amount and types vary, but the bulk of it falls into four basic categories:

  • Processing - this is the brains of the data center, or the Central Processing Unit (CPU). It can be a single processor, as is the case of a mainframe, or literally thousands of processors connected together in a high-speed fashion. Whichever is used, it constitutes the computing capability for the organization.
  • Storage - varies greatly from data center to data center, but consists of hard drives (normal storage), solid state drives (high-speed storage), and tape drives (backup storage). It is static in nature, meaning that it retains its contents even when power is removed.
  • Communications - typically consists of telephone line communications (modems), dedicated telephone line communications (datasets), traditional networking, and high-speed networking (fiber optics or similar). This is how information gets in and out of the data center.
  • Infrastructure Software - this is the software that runs the infrastructure for the data center. It consists of things like management tools for the hardware, database management systems, email systems, customer relationship management software, and so forth. Anything involved with the business as a whole, or that requires centralized management.
  • Application Software - these are the programs that sit on top of the infrastructure, and which. Employees typically use them on a day-to-day basis. Examples include email clients like Outlook and Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, PowerPoint. immediately come to mind.

How Do Metrics Fit into a Data Center's Picture?

Metrics provide an overview, or snapshot, of the data center as a whole, and give some insight into its daily operations. Metrics collected throughout the day, on various key operations, can provide a clue as to the data center's effectiveness. Metrics vary depending on the needs of the business, but there are a few that are tracked by almost every data center. They are:

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