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What to Expect on Your Data Center Tour

Data centers are engines of connectivity, platforms for the infrastructure needed to store, compute and transfer vast amounts of data – which we experience as streamed content, texts, posts on social media, driving directions, shopping and, yes, even email.

If you are thinking about moving some of your infrastructure into colocation, a data center tour is a big part of making a decision on a provider. So, we thought we would give you a preview. Please join us on a “tour” through a data center and explore the inner workings and technologies that power our interconnected world.

The Entrance

A photograph of the secure entrance to a data center.

Chances are you’ve driven by a data center and never even noticed it. Typically, a data center is a building with a non-descript façade, although that is changing. Inside, an entirely different world exists. One that is carefully controlled. Organized. Regimented.

The entrance is the gateway to this world, where you’ll encounter physical security measures developed to ensure only authorized personnel are onsite. Access control measures such as biometric scanners, access card systems, mantrap entries, 24x7 surveillance cameras and monitoring complement the security professionals that safeguard the critical infrastructure inside.

Welcome to the the first stop in your tour, where you check in with security personnel and are issued a badge enabling access to the facility and your deployment.

The Power Room

A photograph of an uninterruptable power supply system in a data center.

Further into the facility, we find ourselves in the data center power room, where redundant power systems ensure the servers operate continuously even in the event of an outage. Failover systems such as backup generators and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units serve as the fail-safes to maintain service continuity and data integrity, ready to kick in when the main power source falters.

Internal data center power areas are where you will find banks of batteries, switches, uninterruptable power supplies, power distribution units and other electrical systems.




The Server Room

A photograph of a wall of computer servers in a data center.

The heart of the facility is the data center server room, which houses rows of server racks. Here, each rack is home to multiple servers and neatly organized to optimize space. Color-coded cables mount along the floor and ceiling to connect servers to the network and power sources to facilitate data transfer between different components.

High-speed fiber optic cables form a raceway through the facility, creating a robust network that connects servers to the internet. The carefully thought-out space and cable management design not only supports efficient management and maintenance of hardware, but also optimizes network performance and reduces latency.

Racks, cages and suites of servers are the heart of data centers, providing the data processing for uses cases ranging from artificial intelligence to over-the-top (OTT) video and collaboration solutions to cell phone telecommunications.

Cooling Systems

A photograph of cooling ducts and plenum in a data center.

Maintaining an optimal temperature is crucial to prevent overheating of the servers. Look for the precision cooling systems, overhead ducts, and floor vents that are strategically placed to create a carefully controlled climate across the facility - those areas are called plenums.

Advanced cooling technologies such as energy-efficient liquid cooling and hot/cold aisle containment keep temperatures consistent, so servers can operate at peak performance. The cooling systems are critical to keeping the data center environment controlled, helping to ensure servers are operating without interruption.



The Network Operations Center

A highlight in our visit is the network operations center (NOC), where technicians and administrators supervise and maintain the data center's overall health and performance. Workstations provide activity reports and dashboards of network status in real time, including information about server loads, traffic and security status. Operating around the clock, the NOC serves as the data center’s nerve center to quickly respond to business-critical tasks for troubleshooting, management, and performance of the network – an essential component for the data center’s reliability.

Beyond physical walls, data centers implement a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems and regular security audits create a “digital fortress” against cyber threats and potential breaches to sensitive data. 


A photograph of a break room or lounge in a data center.

Data center facilities are not just about the machines and servers they house. There too are perks for the clients as they work within the facilities. See the tech lounges with kitchens, complimentary Wi-Fi, conference rooms, office space, storage space, shipping/receiving capabilities with staging areas, even private parking. Clients can enjoy a welcoming, comfortable environment where they can plug in, power up and feel at home while they are on site.

The amenities matter! CoreSite data centers feature breakrooms where you can unwind, share a meal with colleagues or catch up on the game.

As our journey through the data center ends, consider the technology and inner workings that power the digital world. You’ve had just a small glimpse into the detailed planning, advanced technologies and stringent security measures that enable businesses to thrive in this interconnected era. Though non-descript on the outside, the detailed organization inside colocation data centers is a sight to be seen.

Take a Tour!

Curious about what goes on inside a data center? When you are ready, request a tour of a CoreSite data center. We’d welcome the opportunity to learn about your company and show off one of our facilities, such as VA3, seen with the headline of this post.


The CoreSite Team
Combining expertise, research and thought leadership to inform and advance hybrid IT.