Welcome to the latest installment of the How to Speak Like a Data Center Geek series, Equinix’s guide to helping you fit into the wonderful world of data centers, or at least grok the terminology a little better. If you haven’t caught up on the previous installments, start here and work your way forward. This installment looks at data center categories.
Retail data centers, or multi-tenant data centers, house many companies simultaneously. Companies lease space for IT equipment in flexible increments: by the rack or partial rack/cabinet, usually. Since retail data centers house a large number of companies, network, cloud and IT service providers are drawn to offering their services through these facilities. As a result, retail data centers usually offer many options for network and cloud service connections. Because many companies share the same colocation area, retail data centers usually must take special precautions for physical security. For example, they may video-record entry points to shared cages or restrict access via mantraps and biometric sensors.
Wholesale data center are similar to their retail cousins, but require bigger commitments. That’s right: to get with a wholesale data center, you’ve got to put a ring on it … or at least commit to enough space to draw 300 kilowatts of power or more. While power densities vary, you can think of 300+ kW of space as more than 2,000 square feet. Imagine your typical suburban ranch home crammed full of server racks and cooling equipment—that’s the starting point for leased space in most wholesale data centers. More expensive? Sure, but you also typically get more physical control over how your space is designed and laid out than in a retail data center.
Shell data center: No, the Shell Oil Corporation is not diversifying into the data center space (as far as we know). A shell data center is simply a building that has the bare bones necessary for data center development: it’s been pre-qualified for power and telecom access, regardless of any further development, and can be used as a data center. Think of it as a starter mix for a data center: add equipment and clients, mix well and serve. Such buildings can go either the single-tenant property route or become a retail colocation facility.
Carrier-neutral colocation: This is a multitenant, turnkey data center that plays well with others. Carrier-neutral colocation facilities don’t affiliate with a single network service provider, preferring to bring as many providers as possible under one big tent.
Network service provider (NSP) colocation: Just the opposite of the previous term, an NSP colocation facility hews closely to a single network service provider. NSP colocation facilities are still multitenant, turnkey data centers, but one NSP calls the shots.
Now that you know the basic categorizations of data centers, guess which one applies to Equinix? (It’s a trick question. Two categories apply.)
While you ponder that, we’ll wrap things up. 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 6: The stuff we sell (see post above)