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A data center is a facility used for housing a large amount of electronic equipment, typically computers and communications equipment. As the name implies, a data center is usually maintained by an organization for the purpose of handling the data necessary for its operations. A bank for example may have a data center, where all its customers' account information is maintained and transactions involving these data are carried out. Practically every company that is mid-sized or larger has some kind of data center with the larger companies often having dozens of data centers. Most large cities have many purpose-built data center buildings in secure locations close to telecommunications services. Most colocation centers and Internet peering points are located in these kinds of facilities.
As data is a crucial aspect of most organizational operations, organizations tend to be very protective of their data. A data center must therefore keep high standards for assuring the integrity and functionality of its hosted computer environment. This is depicted in its physical and logical layout. The standard TIA-942 describes optimum Data Center design.
A data center can occupy one room of a building, one or more floors, or an entire building. Most of the equipment is often in the form of servers racked up into 19 inch rack cabinets, which are usually placed in single rows forming corridors between them. This allows people access to the front and rear of each cabinet. Servers differ greatly in size from 1U servers to huge storage silos which occupy many tiles on the floor. Some equipment such as mainframe computers and storage devices are often as big as the racks themselves, and are placed alongside them.
1U represents one rack unit of space. A Rack Unit is 1.75 inches in height (44.49 mm). The sizes are believed to have been derived from telecommunication equipment used in the second world war.