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Image Source – Redd Angelo

Everyone wants to know that their data is secure and safely stored, but many people don’t think about the infrastructures that have been built, not just around their towns but also globally, to support the internet to keep it and all its myriad of applications running. A good data centre should blend into it’s surroundings, like the recommendations of IT journalist Manek Dubash, and be subject to vigorous security but what role do they actually fulfil?

Lets think about an email scenario for a moment:

Client A is sitting in his ivory tower with his nice shiny new laptop, he opens up Windows, logs in and clicks on the Outlook icon. Outlook starts and his email is sitting there in front of him. He then presses “new” and the new mail window comes up. He types his mail to Client B sitting in Australia presses send and his email disappears into his sent items.

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Image Source – Farrel Nobel

What infrastructures are in place for this simple email transfer to take place?

We are going to make a few infrastructure assumptions but they’re not unreasonable…

Client A has a broadband line – let’s assume it’s a standard fayre DSL line – and when he presses send, his email is sent to his router and then onto the internet .

Every facility is different, so there’s no off-the-shelf answer as to what exactly happens next. That said, you’re likely to find that most datacentre networks arrive at common solutions to common problems and so look fairly similar. The Register provides a deeper look into what a datacentre network looks like.

Most people assume it’s magic from here on but in reality that data is first transformed into network data packets and then flows into the service provider’s network. This infrastructure (normally) starts at each local exchange and ends up in a datacentre somewhere in the UK. This data centre has power, cooling and internet connectivity of its own in order to connect it to the internet.

Once we leave the confines of this datacentre, the data is probably transferred to another datacentre which has connectivity outside the UK. All of these datacentres are connected by blasting lasers down optical fibre running at speeds of up to 40 gigabits per second (that’s the equivalent of moving approximately one blu ray every second).

Once our data packets are received by this second data centre they are then forwarded out of the UK onto what we call transit networks which run massive networks worldwide. A transit network is a network that can provide end to end connectivity without paying third parties. There aren’t many of these in the world, and they are rarely household names, people like Cogent, Level3, NTT Communications and Tinet for example.

Once these networks have our data, they can pop out into local datacentres for example in Australia, where the reverse of the above happens – into several datacentres to be routed into an exchange and then into an office building where the Client B is awaiting his email.

… and thanks to datacentres this happens in less than a minute…

Without this, we’d be still back in the 1970’s and you write a letter to your colleague in Australia. He’d receive it the following week, you’d have to wait another week for a reply… or just use the phone.

The importance of datacentres?

Yes, they’re blooming important. Without them we wouldn’t have email, websites, social networking, online video or the capability to chat with Grandma on Skype from another country. It’s difficult to really comprehend how much money is spent globally making sure that these infrastructures are kept up to date and running, powered and cooled correctly – take a look at the stats for one of the datacentres which Veber uses at Telehouse London if you’re so inclined – but the reality is that most people don’t care either . As tech people, we think that’s a shame, as some of the technology employed to make these things work is pretty darn cool. Lasers people… lasers…

At Veber, we understand absolutely understand the importance of data centres, so we use a shared, top tier London data centre infrastructure to offer Colocation Services that create a bespoke solutions for your business.

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