How to Speak Like a Data Center Geek

How to Speak Like a Data Center Geek

Jim Poole
How to Speak Like a Data Center Geek

Everyone knows that the language used in the IT industry can be, well, peculiar. We like to use acronyms, preferably if we can pronounce those capital letters as a word (i.e: NOC). We like to turn nouns into verbs (i.e: “I’ll FTP you that file”). And we especially like using obscure technical terms that others don’t understand.

In an effort to inject some simplicity into our complicated industry, Interconnections is kicking off its “How to Speak Like a Data Center Geek” blog series – one of many short articles explaining data center acronyms and terminology and what they really mean. This first installation starts with some very basic vocabulary covering physical features of multi-tenant (i.e., shared) data centers. Read on for the lowdown and start weaving these terms into everyday data center conversations:


Colo – (noun, but also verb) rhymes with solo and is short for colocation. It describes a practice in which many different companies or “tenants” share a data center building for economic efficiencies, as well as to digitally interconnect with other companies within the same facility or campus. In Equinix data centers, space is partitioned and leased to tenants in flexible increments such as by the cabinet, cage or suite (see definitions below). Unfortunately for grammarians, colo is now a verb, too: “We’re going to colo in Amsterdam to cut down our application response time in Europe.” As Equinix may have had a hand in turning this noun into a verb, our apologies to the purists.


Cabinet – (noun) a closed structure that houses servers typically made of metal with rails, grounding studs, interior shelving, etc. They look nothing like the Akurum cabinets you’d get at IKEA, and they cost a lot more, too.


Cage – (noun) an enclosure that subdivides colocation space within a data center using mesh walls, a door, security panels, etc. Much like at the zoo, data center cages provide full visibility into what’s inside, but from a safe distance.


Mantrap – (noun) physical security feature located at the entry point of a secure facility designed to, as the name says, trap a person. Typically mantraps require a security scan to enter a small vestibule. Once inside, a person cannot leave unless he/she passes a second security scan. Many dog parks, aviaries and other animal enclosures are built with a two-stage entry system similar to mantraps.


Suite – (noun) hard-walled rooms for colo customers requiring more data center space. Intended to bridge the gap between wholesale and retail colocation, suites offer more square footage than cages, as well as dedicated security features such as biometric hand readers at the suite door and camera coverage of the suite entrance. If Jay-Z needed colocation space, no doubt he’d lease an Equinix suite.

That’s a wrap for our debut “Geek” post, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t add that data center geeks have a thing for interconnection, since it’s essential for the enterprise to compete. Download Equinix’s IOA Playbook, which describes an interconnection-first architecture that securely connects people, locations, clouds and data.

And check out every post in the “Speak Like a Data Center Geek” series. (Please note: We welcome binge readers):

Part 1: Introduction (see post above)

Part 2: Power I

Part 3: Connections I

Part 4: Cloud

Part 5: Buildings

Part 6: The stuff we sell

Part 7: Security and reliability

Part 8: Connections II

Part 9: Sustainability

Part 10: Networks

Part 11: Power II

Part 12: Internet of Things

Part 13: Big Data

Part 14: Virtualization

Part 15: Virtual Reality

Part 16: Software Containers

Part 17: Artificial Intelligence

Avatar photo
Jim Poole Former Vice President, Business Development
Subscribe to the Equinix Blog