People talk about the internet being in the “cloud”, but the data infrastructure needed to house the servers that process internet data are very much on the ground. Though data centres house advanced technology, they rely on traditional concrete flooring.
Between 2010 and 2018, a million data servers were added to the internet. Every year, 11 zettabytes of data flow through internet servers. A zettabyte is a billion trillion bytes – a number written as one followed by 21 zeros. This huge volume means many extra data centres are being built to accommodate the vast flow of information through the internet.
There are many benefits to using concrete flooring in data centres. They allow the use of heavy servers. Some data centres have wires under raised floors, but the trend now is to use solid concrete flooring with all the power lines above the server racks. Though this may look cluttered, it makes overhead wiring easier to access than below-floor power lines. Some data centres have ceiling grids to support the cables.
Data centres generate considerable heat, with aisles between server racks sometimes reaching temperatures of 100°F. Air-cooled chiller systems evacuate the heat away from the concrete flooring and reduce the temperature to about 72°F, which is more tolerable for data centre workers.
Data centres need a floor that is not damaged by moisture, is capable of supporting heavy machinery and resists impacts. Concrete is a low-maintenance material and is durable. These properties also make concrete flooring ideal for most commercial buildings.