Managing a server can be an expensive task, since it's far more than just turning on a computer. All of the supporting systems such as cooling, network management and electrical safeguards can add significant amounts of money to your electrical bill, Internet service and even your water bill. Before planning a server in your own building, consider a few of the costs and keep colocation in mind.
What Is Colocation?
Although servers perform many complex tasks, they are simply powerful computers with specific components. Many business leaders and would-be technicians consider building their own server within their own area. It's possible to do, but you'll need to maintain every aspect of the operation, ranging from software and network management to physical maintenance such as cleaning, hardware replacements and environment control.
Colocation takes a lot of the burden off your hands by putting the server in an already established data center or by leasing existing computing power. This means that you can either build your own custom machine and ship it to the data center to be colocated with other devices, or use a virtual machine that represents the amount of resources you're willing to purchase.
Most modern colocation is performed via virtualization. In essence, the server or system that you're leasing isn't an individual system at all. By creating a large, powerful system of servers and network resources, engineers have developed a way to make an application that pretends to be a computer. Outside of understanding the technical aspects, you won't be able to tell the different between a physical computer or an allocated set of resources that open up when you double click a virtual machine.
How Is The Electrical Bill Affected?
The most basic burden on the electrical bill is the power needed to run the server. Unfortunately, there's a lot more involved.
Servers are high performance systems that can generate a lot of heat because of the processor and other similar components. A processor is able to burn itself out if certain cooling mechanisms are in place, and even with those mechanisms in place, the room temperature can still rise considerably.
Modern processors don't have the danger of fires--at least not on a regular basis. The system will begin to slow down to reduce the number of processes and heat, then eventually shut down if necessary to protect itself. To combat this, server systems need an air conditioning system that is dedicated to the computer. This means either cooling down the entire building or having a separate air conditioning unit just for the server area.
What Does Water Have To Do With Anything?
An alternative to air conditioning is water cooling. Water cooling works by placing a heat-transferring plate over the processor, which is fitted with a series of pipes or tubing for coolant. The coolant is a mixture of water and a certain chemical mixture depending on the brand.
For large server systems, you may end up just using a water chiller system to transfer heat. Cold water moves across the plate, absorbs heat, then continues down the pipes as warmer water. The water then enters the chiller system and becomes cool again. Water isn't constantly running, but does add a bit to the utility bill.
To avoid these costs, contact a colocation professional like Isomedia, Inc to begin planning a server installation or to lease resources.