Hyperscale vs Enterprise Data Centers: A Lesson in Big Data

data centers

On average, hyperscale data centers consume the same amount of electricity as a small town. On the contrary, enterprise data centers consume twice as much electrical energy. 

But here’s the plot twist: hyperscale data centers occupy greater physical and digital space compared to enterprise data centers. Now, what’s that supposed to mean?

Which of the two is more efficient? Which one’s better? That’s what we’re going to figure out in this guide. Let’s get started! 

What Is A Data Center?

For understanding the performance of each type of data center, it is essential for you to familiarize yourself with the basic framework of a data center. Data centers are basically physical spaces that house the IT equipment and operations of an organization.

A data center is typically a room or a wide space with servers. The servers hold information and enable the transfer of this information to internal or external authorized sources. 

Generally, the cost of a data center lies between $600 – $1100 per square foot. You need a budget of at least $10 million for a basic private data center. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what’s involved in the total cost. 

Note that the prime factor affecting the cost is the type of data center. And that’s because the type determines its potential and overall performance. 

There are five major types of data centers. These include:

  • Hyperscale
  • Enterprise
  • Colocation
  • Wholesale colocation 
  • Telecom

Below we’ll explore the most popular types — hyperscale and enterprise data centers. If you want to familiarize yourself with the other three, you can read this.

Understanding Hyperscale Data Centers

Your phone runs out of storage space after you have a few thousand pictures in it. But your Facebook account has been holding all of your data since 2010 and is working perfectly fine even as you upload newer pictures today. 

Why does Facebook seem to have endless cloud storage for every single user? How can it still keep on adding new users with new needs to its database?

That’s because the company has got several hyperscale data centers (HDCs). As a general rule, an HDC stretches over 10,000 square feet or more and houses at least 5000 servers. These data centers house computing technology that syncs with the latest. And they’re scalable in terms of physical size, digital capacity, and output. 

It’s true that hyperscale data centers consume massive amounts of power to operate. But these centers enable big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to extend their existing and new services to the growing world. 

Pros of Hyperscale Data Centers

  • Even Distribution of Workload: Since HDCs comprise rows and rows of digitally scalable servers, the load is divided evenly amongst them. This prevents servers from overheating or burning out.
  • Optimized Airflow: HDCs are constructed such that the airflow within the facility is good enough to cool the heating servers. This reduces electricity costs for cooling the machinery.
  • Low Maintenance Cost: Most processes within HDCs are automated, meaning the facility requires negligible IT staff. Companies have to invest only in security staff for the most part.

Cons of Hyperscale Data Centers

  • Not suitable for small-sized companies with no bandwidth of their own.

At the end of 2021, the world had about 728 hyperscale data centers. By 2026, we expect the count to reach up to 1200. It is important to note that 40 percent of these data centers are in the United States. You can learn more about hyperscalers with Macquarie Data Centers.

Understanding Enterprise Data Centers

Technically, enterprise data centers are smaller versions of hyperscale data centers. However, they have certain physical and digital limitations, and you cannot scale them up continuously.  

They are best suited for private data storage and networking needs of a mid-sized company or institute, such as that of an international university. There are further sub-types of enterprise data centers, which include:

  • Colocation
  • Hybrid
  • Edge

These centers are usually on-premises, but can be off-premises too.

For IT operations, enterprise data centers have computer hardware for processing data, storage devices and software technologies to hold data, and a network of cables, routers, and firewalls to transmit data. 

For physical maintenance, these facilities require thorough cooling and ventilation systems, security staff, and uninterrupted power sources.

Pros of Enterprise Data Centers

  • Better Monitoring: Unlike hyperscale facilities, enterprise data centers allow for one-to-one monitoring of each piece of equipment’s performance. This means the data center company can make timely upgrades and prevent machinery loss.
  • Complete Control: These centers give the owning and operating company control of their data, data center, and safety.
  • Increased Security: Enterprise data centers are better for companies that deal with confidential or sensitive information. That’s because no one except a few authorized personnel can access or interact with the stored data. 
  • Personalized Systems: Enterprise data centers do not have a commercial framework, meaning they can be specific to a company’s policies, vision, and mission. This makes it possible to create and maintain a unique system.

Cons of Enterprise Data Centers

  • Expensive: The initial cost of building a basic enterprise data center is $10 million. Once built, maintenance costs add up to it. Plus, enterprise data centers require a greater number of tech staff for proper operation and maintenance vs hyperscale centers.
  • Relatively Inefficient PUE: Compared to hyperscale data centers, enterprise data centers have a poor resources-to-performance ratio. The setup consumes a lot of resources, but the output is minimal.
  • Risky: Private or smaller systems are prone to cyber-attacks and damages due to human negligence or error.

Currently, there are over 8000 enterprise data centers in the world. Majority of these data centers are in the USA, followed by Germany, the UK, and China.

So, Which One Is Better?

As reviewed above, both types of data centers have their pros and cons. However, if we talk about big data, companies like Facebook and Google seem to prefer hyperscale data centers over enterprise centers. 

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