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A data centre is a physical structure, or dedicated space within a physical structure, or a group of buildings used to house computer systems and associated components. The roots of data centres can be traced back to the huge computer rooms of the 1940s, as typified by ENIAC. These early computer systems were complex to operate and maintain, while requiring a special environment to operate. 

Data centres for cloud computing are called cloud data centres. With the emergence of cloud computing, data centres now have to meet certain standards if they are to ensure security of user data being stored. The increase in the uptake of cloud computing has led businesses and organizations into scrutinizing data centres to a higher degree in the area such as security, availability, environmental impact and adherence to standards. Highlighted below are some of the requirements and design trade-offs for a data centre to achieve cloud computing capability.

High Performance and Energy Efficiency

A data centre capable of being a cloud data centre must be well optimized to enhance performance and energy efficiency. For this level of efficiency to be achieved, high speed computing systems and servers are to be deployed across the data centre.

Data Security

For a data centre to achieve cloud computing capability, it has to offer a very secure environment that minimizes the chances of a security breach. A data centre must maintain very high security standards to ensure that data integrity is upheld.

Age of Data Centre

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the average age of a data centre is nine years old. Another research company, Gartner declares that all data centres older than seven years are obsolete. When a data centre becomes obsolete, all of its computing equipment and servers ought to be replaced. This reduces the chances of failure of any of the computing equipment and prevents a mass loss in data. It is estimated that there will be about 163 zettabytes of data by 2025, therefore data centres must be modernized to meet this requirement.

Staff Training and Education

Every data centre is operated by trained human personnel. Steps must be taken to ensure that these individuals are constantly educated on the new trends in cloud computing. This is the only way to ensure that the data centres are being operated on the best industry standards possible.

Some expected trade-offs in data centre design

Environmental control: Temperature and humidity of data centres are controlled by Air conditioning and indirect cooling from natural air.

Electrical Power: There must be presence of backup power which should ideally consist of one or more uninterruptible power supplies, battery banks and generators.

Low-voltage cable routing: The data centres may adopt one of the following options; data cabling routed through overhead cable trays, raised floor cabling or an anti-static tile for flooring surface.

Fire protection: A cloud data centre must feature a fire protection system. This fire protection system must have smoke detectors installed to provide early warnings of a fire at its incipient stage.

Physical Security: Physical access must be restricted in a cloud data centre. A layered security consisting of fencing, bollards and mantraps is required. There should be a video surveillance and permanent security guards to ensure maximum security within the data centre.

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