Data Center Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing data centers and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

  • #

    64-bit processor (64-bit computing)

    A 64-bit processor refers to a microprocessor that can process data and instructions in chunks of 64 bits.

  • A

    abend (abnormal end)

    An abend (abnormal end) is an unexpected or abnormal termination of an application or operating system that results from a problem with the software.

  • access layer

    The access layer is where host computers and end users connect to the network.

  • ambient temperature

    Ambient temperature is the air temperature of any object or environment where equipment is stored.

  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

    ANSI (American National Standards Institute) is the primary organization for fostering the development of technology standards in the United States.

  • ARM server

    An advanced RISC machine (ARM) server is an enterprise-class computer server that employs a large array of ARM processors rather than a complement of x86-class processors.

  • ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers)

    ASHRAE was formed in 1959 by the merger of the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE), founded in 1894, and the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (ASRE), founded in 1904.

  • assembler

    An assembler is a program that takes basic computer instructions and converts them into a pattern of bits that the computer's processor can use to perform its basic operations.

  • automatic transfer switch (ATS)

    An automatic transfer switch (ATS) is a device that automatically transfers a power supply from its primary source to a backup source when it senses a failure or outage in the primary source.

  • B

    baffle (data center hot aisle containment)

    Baffle paneling covers unwanted space between racks, under the raised floor and above dropped ceilings in the data center, reducing energy consumption and power use.

  • bash (Bourne again shell)

    Bash (Bourne Again Shell) is the free and enhanced version of the Bourne shell distributed with Linux and GNU operating systems.

  • Basic Assembler Language (BAL)

    BAL (Basic Assembler Language) is a version of IBM's assembler language (sometimes called assembly language) for its System/360 and System/370 mainframe operating system.

  • batch

    In a computer, a batch job is a program that is assigned to the computer to run without further user interaction.

  • blade server

    A blade server, sometimes referred to as a high-density server, is a compact device containing a computer used to manage and distribute data in a collection of computers and systems, called a network.

  • Bloom Energy Server (Bloom box)

    A Bloom Box, officially known as an Bloom Energy Server, is a modular stack of solid oxide fuel cells that can produce electricity.

  • bogomips

    Bogomips is a measurement provided in the Linux operating system that indicates in a relative way how fast the computer processor runs.

  • boot loader (boot manager)

    A boot loader, also called a boot manager, is a small program that places the operating system (OS) of a computer into memory.

  • Bourne shell

    The Bourne shell is the original Unix shell -- command execution program, often called a command interpreter -- that was developed in 1979 at what at the time was Bell Labs.

  • brownfield (brownfield deployment, brownfield site)

    A brownfield deployment, in information technology, is the installation and configuration of new hardware or software that must coexist with legacy IT systems.

  • building management system

    Building management system (BMS) is a computer system that tracks power used by IT equipment and air conditioning systems in the data center.

  • C

    capacity on demand (COD)

    Capacity on demand (COD) is a purchasing option that allows companies to receive equipment with more computer processing, storage or other capacity than the company needs at the time of purchase, and have that extra capacity remain unused and unpaid for until the company actually requires it.

  • carbon usage effectiveness (CUE)

    Carbon usage effectiveness (CUE) is a metric developed by The Green Grid to help organizations measure the amount of carbon used -- or carbon footprint -- in the daily operations of their data centers.

  • Categories of twisted-pair cabling systems

    A twisted-pair cabling system is a cable consisting of one or several pairs of copper wires.

  • CICS (Customer Information Control System)

    CICS (Customer Information Control System) is middleware that sits between the z/OS IBM mainframe operating system and business applications.

  • Cisco HyperFlex

    HyperFlex systems combine software-defined storage and data services software with Cisco UCS (unified computing system), a converged infrastructure system that integrates computing, networking and storage resources to increase efficiency and enable centralized management.

  • CMDB (configuration management database)

    A configuration management database (CMDB) is a file -- usually, in the form of a standardized database -- that contains all relevant information about the hardware and software components used in an organization's IT (information technology) services and the relationships between those components.

  • colocation (colo)

    A colocation facility, or colo, is a data center facility in which a business can rent space for servers and other computing hardware.

  • compaction

    In a data center, compaction is the reduction or consolidation of hardware to make better use of physical floor space.

  • computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit

    A computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit is a device that monitors and maintains the temperature, air distribution and humidity in a data center, network or server room.

  • computer room air handler (CRAH)

    A computer room air handler (CRAH) is a device used frequently in data centers to deal with the heat produced by equipment.

  • computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)

    A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is software that helps operations and maintenance staff identify and track the status of maintenance tasks and availability of replacement parts.

  • continuous modeling (data center continuous modeling)

    Continuous modeling is an approach to data center management that supplements infrastructure management (DCIM) tools with engineering simulation tools such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD). 

  • converged data center

    A converged data center pre-integrates server, storage and networking hardware with management, hypervisor and operating system platforms, as well as applications and services.

  • converged infrastructure

    Converged infrastructure is an approach to data center management that packages compute, networking, servers, storage and virtualization tools on a prequalified turnkey appliance.

  • COTS, MOTS, GOTS, and NOTS

    COTS, MOTS, GOTS, and NOTS are abbreviations that describe pre-packaged software or hardware purchase alternatives.

  • cow power (biogas)

    Cow power is a term for the conversion of manure to usable energy. The energy produced can supplement the electric power offered by a utility or power a facility, such as a factory or a data center.

  • crontab

    crontab is a UNIX command that creates a table or list of commands, each of which is to be executed by the operating system at a specified time.

  • Cygwin

    Cygwin is a collection of open source tools that allows Unix or Linux applications to be compiled and run on a Microsoft Windows operating system (OS) from within a Linux-like interface.

  • D

    data center

    A data center -- also known as a datacenter or data centre -- is a facility composed of networked computers, storage systems and computing infrastructure that organizations use to organize, process, store and disseminate large amounts of data.

  • data center administrator (DCA)

    A data center administrator monitors systems, installs equipment and cabling, and participates in change processes and everyday procedures that support information technology.

  • data center as a service (DCaaS)

    A data center as a service (DCaaS) provider will supply turnkey physical data center facilities and computing infrastructure (e.g., servers, networking, storage, and so on) to clients in the form of a service.

  • data center bridging (DCB)

    DCB is a suite of IEEE standards designed to enable lossless transport over Ethernet and a converged network for all data center applications.

  • data center capacity planning

    Data center capacity planning ensures that an IT organization has enough facility space, power and computing resources to support average and peak workloads.

  • data center chiller

    A data center chiller is a cooling system used in a data center to remove heat from one element and deposit it into another element. Chillers are used by industrial facilities to cool the water used in their heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) units. (Continued...)

  • data center evaporative cooling (swamp cooling)

    Evaporative cooling, also known as swamp cooling, is a strategy for cooling air that takes advantage of the drop in temperature that occurs when water that's exposed to moving air begins to change to gas. You've probably experienced the effects of evaporative cooling if you've ever changed out of wet clothes because you felt chilled.

  • data center in a box

    A data center in a box, also called a containerized or modular data center,  is a self-contained computing facility that is manufactured in a factory and shipped to a location. 

  • Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE)

    Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE) is a metric used to determine the energy efficiency of a data center. The metric, which is expressed as a percentage, is calculated by dividing IT equipment power by total facility power.

  • data center infrastructure management (DCIM)

    Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) is the convergence of IT and building facilities functions within an organization.

  • data center management

    Data center management refers to the set of tasks and activities handled by an organization for the day-to-day requirements of operating a data center.

  • data center resiliency

    Resiliency is the ability of a server, network, storage system or an entire data center to recover quickly and continue operating even when there has been an equipment failure, power outage or other disruption.

  • data center services

    Data center services is a collective term for all the supporting components necessary to the proper operation of data center. This includes all the implementation, maintenance and operation of a data center.

  • data integrity

    Data integrity is the assurance that digital information is uncorrupted and can only be accessed or modified by those authorized to do so.

  • data warehouse appliance

    A data warehouse appliance is an all-in-one “black box” solution optimized for data warehousing.  The appliance consists of a server pre-built with operating system, storage, database management system (DBMS), and software. 

  • DataCore

    DataCore is a software-defined storage (SDS) company, as well as an early storage virtualization software vendor, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

  • Debian

    Debian is a popular and freely available computer operating system (OS) that uses a Unix-like kernel -- typically Linux -- alongside other program components, many of which come from GNU Project.

  • Dell EMC VxRail

    Dell EMC VxRail is a hyper-converged appliance.

  • DRBD (Distributed Replicated Block Device)

    DRBD (Distributed Replicated Block Device) is a Linux-based software component that facilitates the replacement of shared storage systems by networked mirroring. DRBD makes it possible to maintain consistency of data among multiple systems in a network. DRBD also ensures high availability (HA) for Linux applications... (Continued)

  • ducting (data center cooling)

    Ducting is the use of a metal or plastic pipe to carry air from one place to another.

  • E

    e-cycling

    E-cycling is the practice of reusing, or distributing for reuse, electronic equipment and components rather than discarding them at the end of their life cycle.

  • e-waste

    E-waste is any refuse created by discarded electronic devices and components as well as substances involved in their manufacture or use.

  • economizer

    An economizer is a mechanical device that reduces the amount of energy used to cool a data center or other buildings.

  • edge data center

    Edge data centers are small data centers that are located close to the edge of a network.

  • Electric plugs for each country

    Discover the electrical plugs, outlets and voltages used in different countries around the world.

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

    Following specific standards, EDI is a way for businesses to securely transfer important data, such as invoices and purchase orders, via the Internet.

  • Emergency Power Off (EPO) button

    The Emergency Power Off (EPO) button -- sometimes called an EPO switch -- is a large red device in data centers that kills power to a particular piece of equipment, or to an entire facility, in the event of an emergency.

  • Energy Star

    Energy Star is a government-backed labeling program that helps people and organizations save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by identifying factories, office equipment, home appliances and electronics that have superior energy efficiency. (Continued...)

  • epoch

    In a computing context, an epoch is the date and time relative to which a computer's clock and timestamp values are determined.

  • Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL)

    The Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) is a grade assigned to an IT product or system after completing a Common Criteria security evaluation.

  • What is edge computing? Everything you need to know

    Edge computing is a distributed information technology (IT) architecture in which client data is processed at the periphery of the network, as close to the originating source as possible.

  • F

    Fedora

    Fedora is a popular open source Linux-based operating system.

  • field-replaceable unit (FRU)

    In computer systems, a field-replaceable unit (FRU) is a circuit board or part that can be removed and replaced without having to send the entire product or system to a repair facility.

  • free cooling

    Free cooling is an approach to lowering the air temperature in a building or data center by using naturally cool air or water instead of mechanical refrigeration.

  • fuel cell

    A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that derives its energy from combustible substances such as hydrogen, methane, propane, methanol, diesel fuel or even gasoline... (Continued)

  • Fujitsu Ltd.

    Fujitsu Ltd. is a Japanese technology company that specializes in consumer and industrial electronics. Fujitsu’s products include servers, PCs, laptops, media centers, tablets, storage hardware, displays, air conditioning and heat pump units.

  • NetApp FlexPod

    NetApp FlexPod is a reference architecture for server, storage and networking components that are pretested and validated to work together as an integrated infrastructure stack.

  • G

    GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment)

    GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment, pronounced gah-NOHM) is a graphical user interface (GUI) and set of computer desktop applications for users of the Linux operating system.

  • GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or GPL)

    The GNU General Public License, often shortened to GNU GPL (or simply GPL), lists terms and conditions for the copying, modification and redistribution of open source software.

  • GNU/Linux

    GNU/Linux is a Unix-like operating system made up of different OS components and services that create the Linux OS.

  • green computing

    Green computing, also called green technology, is the environmentally responsible use of computers and related resources.

  • green data center

    A green data center is a repository for the storage, management and dissemination of data in which the mechanical, lighting, electrical and computer systems are designed to maximize energy efficiency and minimize environmental impact.

  • grid computing

    Grid computing is a system for connecting a large number of computer nodes into a distributed architecture that delivers the compute resources necessary to solve complex problems.

  • gzip (GNU zip)

    Gzip (GNU zip) is a free and open source algorithm for file compression. The software is overseen by the GNU project.... (Continued)

  • H

    hardware clustering

    Hardware clustering is a hardware-based method of turning multiple servers into a cluster (a group of servers that acts like a single system).

  • Heartbeat

    Heartbeat is a program that runs specialized scripts automatically whenever a system is initialized or rebooted. Originally designed for two-node Linux-based clusters, Heartbeat is extensible to larger configurations... (Continued)

  • high availability (HA)

    High availability (HA) is the ability of a system to operate continuously without failing for a designated period of time.

  • high-performance computing

    High-performance computing (HPC) is the practice of using parallel data processing to improve computing performance and perform complex calculations.

  • Hitachi Vantara (formerly Hitachi Data Systems or HDS)

    Hitachi Vantara is a data storage systems provider, previously known as Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

  • hot spot/cold spot

    A hot spot/cold spot is an undesirable, tightly focused local temperature variation, which often occurs when data center equipment is improperly cooled.

  • hot/cold aisle

    The hot and cold aisles in the data center are part of an energy-efficient layout for server racks and other computing equipment.

  • HPE OneView (formerly HP OneView)

    HPE OneView, formerly known as HP OneView, is a converged infrastructure management platform that provides a unified interface for the administration of software-defined systems in a data center.

  • Huawei Technologies

    Huawei is a Chinese information and communications technology (ICT) company that specializes in telecommunications equipment.

  • HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)

    HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

  • hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) clean agent

    Data centers and telecom rooms use hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) clean agent systems for fire protection to avoid damaging electrical and electronic equipment.

  • hyper-converged appliance

    A hyper-converged appliance is a hardware device that provides multiple data center management technologies within a single box.

  • hyper-converged network

    A hyper-converged network is a network that combines compute and storage network resources into a single preconfigured stack, server or brick with heavy use of virtualization. Typically, a hyper-converged network is built on server hardware that uses virtualized storage, unifying all hard disks or SSD’s into a single storage stack.

  • hyper-converged storage

    Hyper-converged storage is a software-defined approach to storage management that combines storage, compute, virtualization and sometimes networking technologies in one physical unit that is managed as a single system.

  • HyperGrid

    HyperGrid is a cloud computing provider that offers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and application management services. To support the DevOps movement which breaks down the silos between software development and operations teams, HyperGrid can provide support for application lifecycle management (ALM) as well as virtual machine (VM), bare metal and container deployments.

  • What is hyper-converged infrastructure? Guide to HCI

    Hyper-converged infrastructure is a software-centric architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage and virtualization resources in a single system that usually consists of x86 hardware.

  • I

    IBM IMS (Information Management System)

    IBM IMS (Information Management System) is a database and transaction management system that was first introduced by IBM in 1968.

  • IBM Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL)

    The Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) is a specialty engine processor on IBM System z mainframe servers that is dedicated to Linux workloads. Operational efforts, software costs, energy use and hardware footprint are reduced when Linux is deployed on IFL rather than general-purpose processors.

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