More and more, colocation and cloud services providers are seeking Uptime Institute Tier Certification. Why?
Long the de facto global standard for determining levels of data center uptime availability, Uptime Institute’s Tier Classification and Certification has long stood the test of time, and has not been seriously challenged. The Institute lays claim to 637 certifications of data centers in 70 countries.
A panel of owners and operators of Tier III and Tier IV certified data centers, as well as expert data center technologists will convene at the DCD as-a-Service conference and exposition, October 27-28, at the Hilton Chicago to consider these questions: is Tier Certification now obsolete? If not, why not? What motivates a colo owner to acquire both the now-required certification of both design documents and the constructed facility?
SUPERNAP’S Tier IV data center
The Switch SUPERNAP 8 MOD1 colo data center in Las Vegas, Nevada carries a Tier IV Certification with a Gold stamp in operational sustainability. This makes it only one of four facilities in the world, the first such in the US colocation market, and the first in the world to be network carrier neutral, to achieve the highest possible rating.
This prompted pioneering data center design legend Peter Gross, now Bloom Energy’s chief of critical environment technology, to comment, “I have seen countless data centers around the globe, and nothing comes close to (this). This achievement of Tier IV Gold from Uptime is incredibly well-deserved and thoroughly earned.”
The statement then begs the question: Why? Panelist Mark Thiele, executive vice president for data center technology at Switch will be on hand tell why the company saw it as a winning competitive differentiator that uniquely satisfied customer requirements.
Much more common are an increasing number of colo owners who design and build their facilities to a Tier III Certification standard. Significant among them are CenturyLink, ViaWest, Digital Realty, Vantage, Compass, Telx, Telus, Rogers, and Bell Canada.
Compass CEO Chris Crosby, also a panelist, explains what’s behind his decision to standardize on Tier III: “Despite all the talk about technologies (like) DCIM and Software Defined Data Centers, I think basic blocking and tackling will continue to drive the thought processes of most enterprise users (of colo facilities). This means that issues like certifications will become increasingly important to their final decisions. Many data center providers have historically played fast and loose with their claims of Tier III certification. While their designs may have been certified, the facility they actually built aren’t, and customers with mission-critical applications are beginning to demand that the facility they took space in, needs also to be constructed-certified by Uptime to ensure that they are getting what they actually paid for.”
However, for a number of years, there’s been a low-level of chatter in the data center industry that maybe the Tier Classification system is either obsolete or not longer sufficient, as it only takes into account the physical facilities infrastructure – the mechanical and electrical systems. “We hear about adopting some kind uptime standard based on the needs of the application or the workload – one that embraces the IT stack as well as the facilities stack,” says DCD executive vice president Bruce Taylor, and chair of the as-a-Service Conference.
“In the era of virtualization, software-defined data centers and cloud, are we approaching the time when physical facilities failure no longer matters? I can hear the gasps now, but is that where we’re headed? We likely will want at least well-operated Tier II-level of availability for the physical facilities that support where IT gear is installed, but as we continue to abstract into the realm of the software-defined, will the cost (and rigor) of Tier III or Tier IV continue to be necessary.”
To consider these questions, Thiele and Crosby will be joined by well-know industry expert Mark Monroe, Energetic Consulting, as moderator, and former Uptime Institute executive Rick Schuknecht, now a principal of Blackdog Critical Facilities Solutions.
If you are in Chicago on 27/28th October why not join the debate. A number of complimentary passes are available. Contact Giovanni Zappulo for more information.