Data storage is something that every business must consider, regardless of the size. Even the smallest of businesses generates a lot of data – data that must be stored for many years and have failsafe security.
Up until now there have been limited options for the small business owner: clumsy, space-greedy hard drives, the construction of an expensive, high-maintenance dedicated server room or cloud storage that relies on the quality of a third party’s security were the three equally unattractive options.
But now, the world of data storage is undergoing a monumental revolution.
Micro Data Centres: A novel storage solution for businesses of all sizes
Micro data centres are, as the name suggests, a compact place to store and manage data. Yet this simple label fails to truly communicate the enormous and fundamental improvement that it brings to the secure storage of the ever-increasing amount of data that every company generates. The many advantages they bring are being embraced in every industry. SMEs, in particular, have seized the multiple opportunities they offer. So, the question is…. Should your small business be doing the same?
The evidence for switching to a micro data centre is wholly compelling, offering wide-ranging benefits over more traditional data storage.
- Scalability: No need to invest a lot of money upfront to allow for growth. Buy what you need now, and easily upgrade when the time is right.
- Can be sited anywhere: Being the size of a fridge, the DC can be located anywhere you choose. Super quiet running, it could be next to your desk, in a meeting room, or by the coffee machine.
- Cost effective: From energy usage to infrastructure, a micro data centre offers a substantial reduction in data storage costs.
- Portable: Need to move offices? Simply bring your micro data centre/s with you – it’s as mobile as you need it to be.
- Environmentally sound: Extremely low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating, meaning a reduced carbon footprint and associated lower running costs.
- Ultra-secure: Both from a cyber and physical dimension.
- Fast delivery and easy setup: Short lead times and no need for a specialist set up. Management and maintenance are simple and inexpensive.
What is a Micro Data Centre
A micro data centre is a compact, mobile data centre architecture which is specifically designed for lower computer workloads, thereby reducing the costs of setting up and maintaining such a centre. A micro data centre can consist of fewer than four computers in a single rack, whereas a full-scale data centre can contain dozens of servers within a similar size. While the technology used for these smaller buildings is almost identical to those used in the larger buildings, it is important to recognize that there are some fundamental differences that are important to understand and consider when selecting such a facility. Here are some of the considerations:
The type of environment inside a micro data centre depends on the use of the building. If you are looking to reduce costs, you should avoid using indoor environments. These can include heating and air conditioning systems, which require special equipment, expensive and limited spaces, and complex internal wiring systems. Indoor environments also severely limit the types of applications you can use in such a centre.
When speaking of “edge computing”, it is synonymous with virtualization. Virtualization ensures that the resources utilised by one application do not conflict with those of another application. For example, with virtualization, the performance, storage, bandwidth, etc of a server are independent of that of a client. As a result, virtualization allows you to run multiple workloads on the same infrastructure without any negative impact on the performance of the other application. Typically, virtualized data centres are found in the data centre of an enterprise that has high-traffic applications.
Often the largest limitation of micro data centres lies in the physical infrastructure. For example, most physical data centres have a server room. While this serves well for everyday business needs, they are too large and costly for smaller offices. As a result, these offices use their own power and water sources. They are often unable to meet the demands of the larger data centre.
Cooling and Air Conditioning
The cooling requirements for a server room are enormous and require advanced planning. Micro data centre operators are unable to provide customized solutions because they lack the advanced technology needed to meet the needs of a large office. Moreover, the cost of running a server room alone is extremely high as compared to other cost effective solutions such as colocation services. In addition to this, operating costs of micro data centres are affected by the volume of power and air conditioning that they require.
A number of companies provide remote monitoring facilities for servers. However, there are some important considerations that make remote monitoring inefficient for a small office. Firstly, many of the monitoring devices require high-end security systems and many employees may not be trained for this. Secondly, most data centres are physically located far from the location of your company’s main facility and, in case of power supply issues or any safety risks, your employee might not be able to access the control panel. If you operate a small business and do not require advanced technology then micro data centre is an excellent choice for monitoring your servers.
Small businesses have historically been disadvantaged when it comes to data storage, security and choice of options. Now, the world’s smallest data centre not only levels the playing field, but it provides an actively better solution to the complex area of data storage.