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The cloud resides in a data center on Earth

The cloud resides in a data center on Earth

Do we need data centers when we have the cloud? The report "Energy Use in Data Centers and Digital System", written by us at RISE data center ICE, was recently released for the Swedish Energy Agency. Here we figure out how and where the data actually "lives"!

I always argue that data centers are an important part of our digital world. They are responsible for hosting the public and private digital services we rely on every day. I hear from time to time "why do we need data centers, when we have the cloud?", but surprisingly, the cloud resides in a physical data center on our planet Earth.

However, data centers come in many different shapes and sizes, and I can understand that keeping track of all the different categories and characteristics is a challenge.

Classification of data centers

In the EU taxonomy, the two terms edge and cloud are introduced. Cloud data centers are large central data centers located far from end users that host many public digital services such as Facebook, Twitter and Spotify, as well as digital services for private companies or agencies such as SAP and CRM.

Edge data centers, on the other hand, are smaller data centers that are located on company property and in their own networks (internal organizations for data processing) or in public communication networks, for example in the radio access networks, then called access edge, or in city networks, also called metro edge because they usually found in larger cities.

Data centers can also be characterized by size, with small data centers with a power rating of less than 300 kW usually located in-house or at the edge of the network. Medium-sized data centers have a capacity of 0.3–1 MW and are usually located near connection points for the Internet or centrally in telecom networks. Large data centers have a capacity of 1–10 MW and are larger so-called colocation data centers or smaller cloud data centers, while hyper large data centers have a capacity of over 10 MW and are data centers for large global companies.

The company Radar has written a report on data centers and classified data centers into internal data centers, service provider/integrator data centers, commercial data centers and hyperscale data centers.

There are also additional ways to classify data centers, for example by areas of use. Cloud data centers are used for storage and processing with low latency requirements and can be far away from users. Edge data centers are used for control loops, object detection, etc. and these applications require low latency and proximity to users.

At RISE, we have created a table that combines the EU's taxonomy and categories with Radar's definitions. We have also provided examples of data center operators for each category.

I hope it can help to increase understanding.

RISE will be happy to help you

We at ICE data center are happy to help you if more questions about data centers and energy use come up—please get in touch if you have any questions!

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