A common question among computer users is: where is the internet located? If email is not saved on user computers and the “cloud computing” industry is growing in its ability to provide offsite storage and security for user data, then where are the servers located?
The answer is that many “server farms,” or large warehouses containing storage hardware for computer users, are located in rural areas or outside of smaller towns. Land is cheaper there, and more acreage is available for building gigantic warehouses to store the amount of servers needed to process what is called “mega data” for large corporations and government agencies across America.
Server farms are a multi-billion dollar industry in America, racking up almost $15 billion in sales each year and employing approximately 10,000 people. Although there are only about 300 companies who manufacture computer servers across America, the industry continues to respond to urgent business demand and is continuing to grow.
Server hardware is measured in racks: 19 rack panels are 19 inches wide, and can hold up to a few hundred servers in either a warehouse or smaller venue. 19 rack panels and network switches are the most common pieces of hardware needed to hold servers: server farms are much larger than a football field and need sturdy equipment to keep hardware secure.
A server rack cabinet containing hundreds of servers needs to be kept at a certain temperature for optimal server functioning and cannot get warmer than about 80 degrees. As data centers grow in number and size, they are using more energy, much of which is used for large-scale air conditioning systems to keep computer systems from overheating. Again, there is a need for large tracts of land and a “mega-sized” server rack cooling system.
Racks and enclosures for servers are essential both to protect the equipment and to enable easy access in case of malfunction, security breach, or power outage. A good server enclosure will often come with a fan. All “mega data” sized computer racks are made for industrial use but are also available for the home user in a modified version.
Overall, server farms — hosting thousands of computer servers — stand poised to take over the rural American landscape, one mammoth air-conditioned facility at a time.