A data center is the physical space (or spaces) in which a company houses and operates its IT hardware infrastructure.
Data center management activities span both the optimization of the physical space and the conditions within that physical space as well as the optimization of equipment housed within the data center. The term “data center” is often used today to distinguish between an organization’s on-premise IT infrastructure and that which it acquires through the cloud.
While data centers are said to house “on-premise” IT, many businesses lease space within a commercial data center or centers. Commercial data centers often provide the backbone infrastructure for customers who bring in their own hardware, but more extensive leasing arrangements are also possible. Another common data center practice is to co-locate all mission-critical apps and data in two geographically disparate locations, providing resiliency against disasters that could bring business operations down.
Whether it is truly located on premises or leased, a data center must be a separate space with a specialized environment designed for computers. It requires adequate dedicated electrical supply and cooling, which is backed up by a secondary power source. It should have access control features, allowing entry only to authorized personnel and provide forced entry protection. Most data centers use a modular design so that hardware and cabling can be swapped out easily, and it should be designed to make such maintenance simple to perform.