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I know this is a site for professionals, but please bear with me.

I have seen server rooms, and they have racks and racks of servers, routers, and switches. I want to know, what is the purpose of all these? Where does the data go once it enters the server room?

Most of all, what resources are there for me to learn this?

Sorry, I know this is a "noob" question, but I am very fascinated by this sort of stuff

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closed as not a real question by Jimmy Shelter, John Gardeniers, Zypher, Jeff Atwood Feb 8 '10 at 8:53

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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6 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It really depends on what server room you're looking at. A co-location facility's server room would likely consist of servers from many different companies. The data may simple go in and out to the internet. The server room could have systems that replicate data to another site in the event of a disaster. The server room could utilize SANs (storage area networks) and NAS (Network attached storage) and data could be shuttled between those systems. A VERY common setup is to have multiple web and/or database servers talk to SAN devices for storage and communicate the data as needed to and from the data center upon request of the clients which could be employees or customers.

Resources such as classes, books, and online sources can help. If you're serious about learning you can look into setting up small networks with Linux and/or purchase a TechNet Plus Subscription to get access to Microsoft technologies (for testing and learning purposes) and you can setup Microsoft based systems.

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Thanks everybody for the quick responses, and thanks especially to you for penning up such a lengthy response! I've heard terms such as "DCHP server", "DNS server", etc. thrown around. What do these mean? My question is, what is the setup in the average server room? –  Robert Feb 8 '10 at 1:04
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@Robert - That's really too much to ask here. You're better off taking some classes on the subject, doing some online training, or research yourself. DNS and DHCP are fundamental concepts. –  MDMarra Feb 8 '10 at 1:39
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Turn back now! Run away before it's too late!

Seriously though, best bet is to look at some WikiPedia articles for now, try to get an overview, and ask specific questions on anything you don't really understand. Maybe try an evening course or get stuck into your local library too.

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Google and Wikipedia are your firends !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Server_farm

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_center

Read this wikipedia entry. It should answer most of your questions. Different servers do many many different tasks. Is there something particular that you are interested in? If so, I will be more than happy to attempt to answer your question.

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Check out some of the "server+" study materials available at your local bookstore (or online). The material covered in these books is aimed at passing the server+ exam, but the material is exactly related to your question. You will learn about racks, rack mounted servers, rack units, common network topography, data center commonalities, etc.

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For the most part, if you know how two computers communicate on a network, you can extend that to three computers, then to an arbitrary large number. So start with the basics, and learn how your computer talks to other computers. Ask yourself, what happens when I open a browser and navigate to serverfault.com? How does my computer find serverfault.com, what does it do to talk to the web server once it finds it, and so on.

Once you start getting a handle on this, you can look at a server room as just a collection of similar computers that have their own physical space and logical (network) space on the internet. Internet, after all, originally meant "collection of networks."

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